Monica, Class of 2022
When did you decide to pursue veterinary medicine?
I decided to pursue veterinary medicine when I was only about two years old. Even though I most likely did not know what that meant, I knew I wanted to be an ‘animal doctor.’ The true passion behind becoming a vet did not come to fruition until I was a few years older. A baby bird fell out a tree in my backyard and unfortunately passed away due to its injuries. I remember being upset for days because I did not know what I could have done to help the injured animal. In that moment, I knew wanting to be a vet was more than just loving animals- I wanted to have a direct hand in their health and wellbeing. A career in veterinary medicine seemed to be my calling, and as a current student at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, there has never been a doubt in my mind that this is what I was meant to be doing.
What did you do to prepare for veterinary school?
In my undergraduate education, I majored in biology, with minors in chemistry and microbiology. Not only did I need to complete my prerequisite courses for veterinary school, but also had a passion for sciences that was unparalleled to any other subject. During college, I shadowed two different small animal vets, gaining around 2,000 hours of shadowing experience. Additionally, I was an intern at the Staten Island Zoo, where I gained valuable knowledge in the care of exotic animals.
Finally, I worked on two research projects during my undergraduate career. One project was working in tandem with Billion Oyster Project, an organization that works out of Governors Island, NY. My main research during undergrad, which eventually was published in a scientific journal, focused on studying the behavior of Common Tern Chicks that lived in Barnegat Bay, Long Beach Island, NJ. On top of this, I worked two part-time jobs that were not animal related, and was heavily involved with extracurricular activities on campus. I was the vice-president of my Biology Honor Society, the secretary of my chemistry honor society, and a member of several other clubs.
What advice do you have for high school or college students who are interested in becoming a veterinarian?
My advice to you is to get experience as early as you can to understand if becoming a veterinarian is right for you. While extremely rewarding, this path is long and challenging. When I was gaining my shadowing experience, I became even more passionate about the career, and that solidified that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. Getting experience early on, as well as a wide variety of experiences, will allow you to see what the career of veterinary medicine can offer you. Everyone enters this field for a different reason, so it is important to find yours!