Eleni, Class of 2024
When did you decide to pursue veterinary medicine?
When I was a very young girl I discovered my passion for veterinary medicine; I used to bandage up all of my stuffed animals with my grandfather as my assistant! For Christmas when I was 5, I got a lab coat with “Dr. Eleni” on the front to wear while I played doctor. It seriously has been my entire life that I have wanted to become a veterinarian! I started seriously pursuing veterinary medicine as a career in high school, when I started shadowing my dog’s veterinarian and joined a local “Veterinary Explorers” program to learn about the different career paths within veterinary medicine. With this program, I attended lectures given by all kinds of different veterinarians and took field trips with the program to various veterinary clinics, zoos, and even Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine! Once I started truly exposing myself to the field, I knew it was the career I had to pursue.
What did you do to prepare for veterinary school?
To prepare for veterinary school, I tried to get as much experience as I could in the field to show I was passionate and serious about it as a career on my application. Experiences I had before applying to veterinary school included riding with a large animal veterinarian for 3 summers and becoming her assistant on ambulatory calls to see dairy and beef cattle, goats, sheep, and the occasional camelid; an internship with a working sled dog clinic in Vermont; a job cleaning stalls and turning out horses at an equestrian facility for a few years; getting heavily involved at the student-run dairy at the University of Vermont; and working as a veterinary assistant at a small animal clinic. I also spent a lot of time studying and improving my academic performance; this included re-taking a few prerequisite classes to improve my grades in those classes. I also got a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology before veterinary school; this allowed me to continue to improve academically and opened up a world of opportunity for me to explore as career options in public health once I finish veterinary school!
What advice do you have for high school or college students who are interested in becoming a veterinarian?
My advice is to not give up if this is truly your dream! I am a two-time applicant to veterinary school; the first time I applied I didn’t get any acceptances and I won’t lie, it was heartbreaking and almost made me give up. However, I am so glad I didn’t as I am now pursuing my career goals at my dream school! Whether you have never applied and it is going to be your first time or you have applied multiple times, I encourage pre-vet students to utilize the admissions staff at their veterinary colleges of interest and learn specifically what those veterinary colleges look for on their applications and how to improve their applications if they are re-applying. I got great advice from multiple veterinary school admissions counselors that allowed me to have a very successful second round of applications. It took a ton of work to get in, including re-taking multiple prerequisites and getting more veterinary-related experience, but it was so worth it!
Why did you choose Cornell and what do you enjoy most about the veterinary program?
I chose Cornell for multiple reasons. First, I am a New York State resident so being close to my family in Buffalo and the tuition were huge draws for me. Second, Cornell has a very strong food animal medicine/dairy medicine curriculum. This is what I am interested in, which was a big reason for me to attend veterinary school here at Cornell. I spend a ton of time working at the Cornell Teaching Dairy Barn and learning from Dr. Blake and the dairy cows and I absolutely love it! Third, I LOVE the problem-based learning curriculum! Getting taught to think like a clinician and work with your classmates to figure out a case the very first week of classes is rewarding, exciting, and the right amount of challenging. I am absolutely amazed as to how much I learned in such a short amount of time and I am truly loving being a veterinary student here!