When did you decide to pursue veterinary medicine?
I knew I wanted to be a vet as soon as I was old enough to be able to answer the question of what I wanted to be--which is a pretty common theme for vet students. Since I knew I had this drive in me to become a veterinarian, I always had that goal in mind and was able to shape my education around that.
What did you do to prepare for veterinary school?
To prepare for applying to vet school, I took advanced science courses in high school with AP credit so I could hopefully get credit to opt me out of basic courses in undergrad. I also took classes that I thought were interesting and fun to help keep me engaged and happy so later on I could tackle all the homework and studying with a fresh mind.
I selected an undergraduate university with a wonderful, challenging biology program and amazing professors whom I could look up to and respect. Again, I took full opportunity of challenging courses but also opened my mind and delved into writing and literature as well as music.
While in high school I participated in many extracurricular activities and was also very active in 4-H animal programs as well as local horseback riding clubs. In undergrad I worked several jobs at a few horse stables working as a stable hand doing chores and handling horses. I also worked as a technician assistant at a great veterinary hospital all throughout my undergrad career which provided a great deal of experience.
I really recommend getting out and offering to work with animals in any way possible. Even if it means shadowing or cleaning stalls/kennels, you can learn so much observing, and perhaps if you work hard enough, you can be trusted to help with other more involved aspects.
What advice to you have for high school students who are interested in becoming a vet?
Challenge yourself and work really hard, but don't get so wrapped up in grades and school that you forget to enjoy working with the animals who inspired your career choice in the first place.
Make time every day to do something you love, even if just for an hour, because you will come to depend on that activity or thing that brings you happiness and recharges you later on when things get even more stressful (yes it will get more stressful). For me, that was riding my horse and going to work with animals every day, but it could whatever you want!
Connect with teachers, as they can be lifelong friends and help you later on down the road, and don't forget to have fun with your friends and enjoy life while it's simple. If you want it bad enough, you'll get there!