Hometown: DMV (D.C., Maryland & Northern Virginia area)
Name of Undergraduate Institution: University of Miami
Major(s)/Minor(s) in College: Marine Science and Biology Major, Psychology Minor
Name of Veterinary School: Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine
Favorite Quote: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Contact Information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where are you currently at in your career path and why did you decide to pursue this career path?
I am in the first semester of my third year of veterinary school at Auburn University. I decided to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine due to my love for animals and science. I’ve always known that I wanted to work with animals, but I didn’t discover my interest in medicine until I made it to my final semester of undergrad. I discovered how rewarding it is to be able to care for animals that are not able to help themselves. I attended a symposium about a year ago and one of the speakers said that, “our quality of care is their quality of life.” That quote really stuck with me and motivated me to continue on this path to become the best veterinarian that I can be.
If you could go back and have a chat with you naïve college freshman self, what would you tell her?
You may have your mind set on what you want to do, but that can always change. If you allow yourself to experience different things, then you are able to decide if you are on the right path and pursuing something that you are truly passionate about. You will spend a huge amount of time in whatever career field you choose, so you want to make sure that it is something you are passionate enough about that you’ll never become bored along the way.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a similar path as yours?
Work hard. Don’t spend time stressing about things that won’t have a major impact on your future. Focus on achieving your goals. Get good grades. Get veterinary experience early, even if it means just becoming a volunteer, receptionist, or an assistant. Develop good study habits. Find a mentor to help you develop a plan to achieve your goals and stick to that plan.
Did you take some time off before veterinary school? If so, what did you do during that time?
I took a year off from school after I graduated from the University of Miami. I had recently decided that I wanted to apply to veterinary school, but I didn’t think that I had the necessary experience in order to be accepted. I gained experience in 3 three different veterinary clinics as both a technician and a client services representative. Since I am a Gates Millennium Scholar, I decided to also pursue a master’s degree in Marine Biology during that time. I ended up getting accepted into veterinary school before completing my masters, but it was definitely worth my time.
What extra-curricular activities are you involved in at your school?
I am really interested in aquatic medicine, so I am the vice-president of my school’s chapter of the World Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Association (WAVMA). This organization is helping me prepare to become a certified aquatic veterinarian by the time I graduate with my DVM. I am treasurer of Omega Tau Sigma Zeta veterinary fraternity and a member of various professional organizations. Also, I am President of Veterinary Students as One and Culture and Ethnicity (VOICE). This organization is very important to me because I helped start Auburn’s VOICE chapter, which helps advocate for more minority involvement and overall acceptance of others no matter race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or religion.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of veterinary school? The easiest part?
The most challenging part of veterinary school is retaining the vast amount of information I have been presented with over such a short amount of time. I average between 20-22 credit hours per semester. The typical veterinary schedule is crammed with 6-8 hours of classes, followed by countless hours of studying. Each week, I have 1 or 2 exams as well as quizzes and assignments. People often underestimate how demanding the veterinary curriculum actually is. I have to learn about multiple different species, including humans at times. The easiest part of veterinary school is participating in labs that actually allow me to practice and apply everything I have learned in the classroom. These labs are the most rewarding and serve as a reminder as to why I have devoted my life to pursuing a career in veterinary medicine.
What do you do to get through the stressful nature of veterinary school?
Studying takes up the majority of my time, but it is extremely important to have outlets when school becomes too stressful. I try to make time to work out regularly, take my dog to the park every week, and hang out family and friends. Adult color books are really helpful to relieve stress. I try to get out of Auburn as much as possible. It is really nice to get a change of scenery sometimes.
Who are some of your favorite musicians? Favorite books? Shows? Movies?
I am a huge fan of hip-hop. Some of my favorite artists include Kendrick Lamar, Big K.R.I.T, Joe Budden, Joey Bada$$, J. Cole, Eminem, and Rapsody. My favorite book is Their Eyes Were Watching God and my favorite poet is Maya Angelou. Some shows I am hooked on are Grey’s Anatomy, Queen Sugar, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones.
If anyone has any questions for me or is interested in pursuing a veterinary degree, please feel free to contact me!
Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us your experiences and wisdom Erika, you are very much appreciated! Your career path is a unique one that I feel is important to enlighten others about, so I'm really glad you were willing to allow us to peek into your world of medicine! Best of luck to you as you continue your training!
Posted on November 1st, 2017