Claudia, Class of 2023
When did you decide to pursue veterinary medicine?
I decided when I was 12 that I wanted to be a veterinarian. At the time, I had never actually owned any pets, much less met a veterinarian. But I really loved animals, so I spent much of my time binging Animal Planet to fufill that facsination. I especially loved the show Emergency Vets and watching how they worked to “solve” cases. I had always loved puzzles and learning how things worked so naturally I was hooked. The diagnostic, deductive side of veterinary medicine initially fostered my interest in the field, but it wasn’t until I started shadowing/working in clinics that I realized the impact veterinarians had. I found a love in working for these animals and their owners and genuinely having a positive effect on their lives.
What did you do to prepare for veterinary school?
Being a first generation American, there was a lot I didn’t know about the college process from the get-go. I lucked out in that I mostly tried to focus on studying hard and keeping my grades up. It got me into Cornell for undergrad, a school with an amazing Animal Science Program and financial aid initiatives that allowed me to graduate without undergrad debt. Still on the academic side, I struggled and did not always achieve the grades I thought I needed for vet school. I didn’t let it discourage me and continued to do my best in addition to being heavily involved in extracurriculars (i.e. band). I spent my breaks shadowing at clinics and volunteering at shelters. I ended up taking a gap year in order to gain more veterinary experience, where I was able to work full-time as a veterinary assistant and intern at an equine specialty clinic in NH.
What advice do you have for high school or college students who are interested in becoming a veterinarian?
Focus on yourself and your own journey. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. When I realized, I would have to take a gap year to have any chance of getting into vet school, I felt like a failure. All of my other peers had been able to go straight in, so why had I not been able to? In the end, that gap year allowed me to grow in ways I really needed, both personally and professionally. I realized that we are all different and can succeed in our own time. So don’t waste your energy elsewhere!
Why did you choose Cornell and what do you enjoy most about the veterinary program?
Having gone to Cornell for undergrad and being originally from NY, staying in Ithaca at my in-state school was a no brainer. Even so, learning more about their curriculum, the use of PBL and the amazing faculty who are truly invested in our success made the decision even easier.