When did you decide to pursue veterinary medicine?
On my kindergarten "About Me" project, I said that I wanted to be a veterinarian. However, I didn't actually decide on that path until later in high school. I remember thinking that being a veterinarian would be too fun, and I needed a serious career. My dad took me to an information session and tour at the vet school at Cornell so I could learn more about becoming a vet. I found that being a vet was just as serious as any other job, and I decided to give it a try. However, I knew that life happens and people change, so I chose a college that had a wide variety of majors in case I found something else later on that brought me more enjoyment.
What did you do to prepare for veterinary school?
First, I got a job as a kennel assistant at a veterinary hospital. This was a really important step for me because I needed to know if I actually liked working in veterinary practice, since becoming a vet is a huge life commitment. I love animals and I love science, but there are so many careers involving those besides veterinary medicine. As a kennel assistant, I started out cleaning cages, but eventually learned how to give medications, restrain patients, and things like that. Having that experience was really important because it helped me get other jobs once I was in college that helped me prepare for vet school.
What advice to you have for high school students who are interested in becoming a vet?
Spend time with different types of veterinarians and ask them about their experiences. Just listening can help you realize which parts of veterinary medicine you love, which ones you don't, or that you want to work with animals in a different way completely.
Since my state doesn't have a vet school, my high school mentor told me that I would never make it if I stayed in state instead of going to a university that has a vet college. Well, I went to my state school anyway, and I got to exactly where I wanted to be. You should pick a college that feels right to you, because that is where you're going to be happiest, learn the most, and excel. Plus, because I stayed in-state for undergrad, I saved a ton of money that I'm using for my vet school tuition.