I came from a small island that had dealt with pet overpopulation for years. In my neighborhood, there were always many stray animals on the streets, especially cats running around. At a short age, I started to help to take care of my family’s cats named Michelle and her five kittens. So, I grew up with many cats and by the age of 13, I had 11 cats! I still can remember all of their names! I can say that I loved caring for those cats so much that I became a little vet nurse without even realizing it. My dad was the person who taught me how to handle them, clean their injuries and bandage them. Indeed, I believe I developed a special connection with cats and a keen interest in understanding their body language and behavior.
When I was a teenager, my sister and I started to feed and take care of injured stray cats. After finishing feeding these cats, we used to go to sleep feeling good, glad that even if we could not give these cats a home or a better life; we were at least providing them with some food. Later on, we found adoptive homes for the younger cats. Little by little all these experiences fostered a genuine passion for animals and their health in me.
But when I realized I truly wanted to go to vet school? Well…in my last summer of high school, I participated in a free event called Castraton that took place at the San Francisco De Asis Vet Hospital and it provided low-cost spay and neuter services. As a volunteer, I was assigned to rescue stray cats and dogs that were in my neighborhood to take them to that event. I took most of them but I left one cat who I couldn’t catch. He was a polydactyl cat with sarcoptic mange…I tried a couple of times until I left my fears behind and I used a towel to grab him and put him into a kennel without hesitating. He scratched my left hand and bit my annular finger a little bit. But by next day, this cat and the rest of the stray animals were spayed and neutered. I observed and was even able to assist in surgeries. I felt amazing…like a fish in the sea! This experience was my first shadowing experience in veterinary surgery. And it made me realize that I wanted to work with animals no matter if they were aggressive strays or friendly pets. That day, I told to my parents that I was sure that I wanted to go to vet school and I began to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor of animals!