Something that I have learned through my time with my classmates is that everyone has had a different journey getting to vet school. We all have different reasons for wanting to become a veterinarian and many people have had different timing in their lives for beginning vet school. This is the commencement of a series to tell those different stories of students in my class and talk about their own journey for becoming a vet student.
This is the story of second-year student, Gabi. Like many of us, she was first interested in veterinary medicine around the young age of 5 or 6. I asked Gabi a few questions to learn more about her journey to vet school.
MY: What is your background in vet med?
GW: In 6th grade, I asked my local small animal vet to watch surgeries. I observed until I was able to work there and continued to work there throughout high school. I graduated from Central College in Biology with a minor in art. During my undergraduate education I completed research on the Northern Long Eared bat and range of White Nose Syndrome in Iowa. I learned a lot about the native bats in our state. In Costa Rica, I was able to continue my studies on bats and tropical ecosystems. I also did some prairie research that would relate to agriculture and large animal medicine which led me to pursue an undergraduate internship with a local large animal vet, and this is where my passion currently lies.
MY: What are your main reasons for wanting to engage in vet med?
GW: The human-animal bond has been a cornerstone in my life and I can’t imagine not working with animals every day. I also have a passion for helping people, an interest in medicine and problem solving, so it seemed like the perfect fit. Veterinary medicine is a very dynamic field and I wanted a career where every day was going to be different or where I could have an opportunity to serve in different roles throughout the field. What keeps me going is my drive to help people benefit from their relationship with animals by serving their animal’s health whether on the farm or in their home.
MY: Tell me about your journey to vet school.
GW: My journey to getting into Iowa State College of Veterinary Medicine really began back in high school. I was able to get a really good, hands-on look at the profession and developed myself to become a well-rounded candidate when I applied in 2016. Focusing on areas outside of veterinary medicine was important too, like cross country and track, art, sustainability and volunteering at my church and learning really good life lessons and communication skills that would benefit me in my veterinary career. I applied only to Iowa State because my chances of getting into an out-of-state school were slim, and Iowa State was also the best choice financially since I am a resident and it’s one of the top veterinary schools in the country.
To be honest, I was really scared when I applied. I wondered if I was going to be good enough to get in. I didn’t feel very confident and I almost scared myself out of pursuing veterinary medicine entirely and almost considered applying for physical therapy school instead. I had good grades, but I wasn’t a 4.0 student and didn’t graduate with honors and had passing GRE scores. I red shirted in undergrad for cross country and track so I took 12 credits almost every semester. This was daunting since in most vet schools you can accumulate more than 20 credits in one semester.
I was so excited I made the first cut and I was going to interview, but then I got really nervous again that my dream career was going to come down to one conversation. The few nights before the interview I Googled probably every single potential question they could ask me and thought of answers. Most of the questions I had Googled were asked in the interview with some exceptions. I tried to overcome my nerves and be as true to myself as I could be when I answered.
Looking back I’m just really thankful for the journey that I experienced while getting into vet school. I don’t think I would be there without the fear of potential failure fueling me to keep working harder academically, pushing the boundaries for personal growth and all of the incredible opportunities I was able to be apart of in my pursuit of my life long goal to become a veterinarian.