The road to veterinary school is, by nature, dauntless and difficult.
While many students are fortunate to gain entrance on their first attempt, some students face additional obstacles they must overcome in order to pursue their dream of becoming a veterinarian.
Alicia Robinson, from Wills Point, Texas, applied three times before being accepted to the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM).
“It was really hard,” Robinson said. “There were a lot of times I thought about applying to nursing school, because that seemed like the easier thing to do. I told myself I was going to give myself four tries, and if it didn’t happen after the fourth time, it was probably time to do something else.”
In the years between her undergraduate degree at A&M and acceptance into veterinary school, Robinson earned a master’s degree in biomedical sciences at A&M. She also used the time to focus on herself and her family, which was important along her path to eventual admission.
“I had a lot of support from my husband and family. They kept telling me not to give up, but it was definitely hard; every rejection letter stung,” Robinson said, noting that her loved ones helped her overcome the disappointment.
“But I learned to lean on the support of others,” she said. “There are going to be times when you feel like you can’t do it, you’re not smart enough, but just lean on those who love you and support you no matter what and just keep going.”
Since entering the CVM, Robinson has continued to demonstrate her tenacity, serving two years as the CVM’s Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) delegate, liaising between the college and the association, serving on the board of directors for conferences, and being involved with legislative advocacy.
Despite the perseverance required for Robinson’s admission, she strongly believes that her hard work paid off. After all, in May 2020, she will earn her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree and, hopefully, find a job working in rural mixed animal medicine.
“At the end of the day, I’m getting to do what I want to do, so yeah, it was definitely worth it, all those struggles,” she said. “I actually have my acceptance letter framed in my office so I can look at it every time I study.”
Elizabeth Martin, from Allen, Texas, has also carried on through her fair share of setbacks.
In the summer after her freshman year, she was in a medically induced coma for five weeks because of a severe case of pneumonia. She had to withdraw from classes the fall semester of her sophomore year to go through physical rehabilitation and then reapply to her undergraduate program at A&M.
Though her illness disrupted her plans, Martin believes her experiences have ultimately made her into a stronger person and have set her up to be a better veterinarian.
“It has given me the ability to empathize more with the patients and the owners in what they have experienced,” she said. “I have seen how a medical emergency has impacted my family’s life, as well as my own.”
At the time of Martin’s induced coma, doctors did not know whether she would even be able to walk again. Even though recovery has been extensive for Martin and her family, she has not let this impact her veterinary education or her future in veterinary medicine.
“I awoke with chronic nerve damage, so I continue to wear an ankle brace on a daily basis. This has made it a challenge to juggle chronic pain while being a veterinary student, but has made me even more determined to be successful.
Martin refuses to let anything slow her down. She served as president of the Heifer International Chapter at the CVM for two years, raising $16,000 for the non-profit organization in January 2018. Martin also served as an Internal Medicine Club veterinary lab coordinator last year.
After veterinary school, Martin plans to pursue her interest in small animal cardiology and hopes to end up at a specialty clinic in Texas. Specializing in cardiology requires Martin to commit to a one-year internship and three-year residency in the field, an experience she says she looks forward to completing.
She is also passionate about health and wellness. Martin teaches spin classes at A&M’s Recreation Center. She asserts that although it may seem difficult for students to fit fitness into their schedules, it is beneficial in the long-run, boosting focus, energy, and mood.
“I think it is important to continue to take care of yourself while in veterinary school,” she said. “A lot of times people think there is not enough time, but do not realize how beneficial health and fitness are to daily life.”
She thinks that her past illness has changed her mindset on how she spends her time and where she places value in her life, as well as motivated her to chase her ambitions in pursuing a cardiology specialty with more vigor than ever.
“I know after I woke up, I realized that time is precious,” Martin said. “I do not ever know how long I have; therefore, I try to make the most of every situation and plan to live like this the rest of my life.”
Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2020 edition of CVM Today.
Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of Communications, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; email@example.com; 979-862-4216