University helps students follow veterinarian dreams

Cassie Sullivan and Cassie Sullivan

Growing up, some kids dream about becoming veterinarians, but only a few make it through the ‘competitive’ field.

Emily Warner, the president of the Pre-Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA), always dreamed of being a veterinarian and is working her way through the University’s pre-veterinary program in order to go into a veterinarian program after receiving her biology degree.

“It was always what I wanted to do; I never wanted to do anything else. My interests never wandered, never varied,” Warner said. “It’s something I was born with.”

In order to become a pre-vet student, students have to earn their bachelor’s degree in biology, but have an interest or passion in going into veterinary, medical or dental programs. Once in the graduate program, universities only accept students who have a high enough grade point average and have had hands on experience with animals.

“I usually have 20 new pre-vets per year. We have 20 freshmen who are pre-vets. When I look at the sophomores, I have 10 sophomores … Most people who start out as freshmen ultimately chose a different path,” said Ray Larsen, an advisor in the biology department. “I think we help them realize that a 3.2 grade point is a great grade point, but it will not get you into vet school.”

To become a pre-veterinary major in the College of Arts and Sciences students need to tell the college they want to be a pre-vet major.

While some of the programs within the University have prerequisites for students to declare their actual track, the biology program treats all students the same and doesn’t have students take certain classes toward becoming a pre-vet major or a pre-dental major, Larsen said.

Students within the biology program all take the same courses, such as general biology, along with genetics. Biology majors also have to take Calculus 1310. Other courses include chemistry and psychology. Students going into the pre-vet program need to be comfortable with biology and have a good background in physical science and mathematics, Larsen said.

Other classes biology students have to take include a year of physics, a year of organic chemistry and biology-chemistry, along with physical science being suggested.

By having students take these courses, the program is offering them the chance to build a solid foundation, Larsen said.

Another way for students to gain the hands on experience they need is to join PVMA.

“The school offers us classes and that’s as far as that goes. A few years ago, pre-vet students started this club so we could go get experience, because to apply to vet school, you need more than grades,” Kayla Tubbs, the vice president of PVMA, said. “You need hands on experience with a vet, you need hands on experience with just volunteering and it all comes into one.”

Students involved in PVMA get hands on experience by going to Willow Wood Farm, a farm owned by an advisor in the program, where students are able to volunteer for three to four hours a week. Students work with a wide range of animals while also learning about nitration, reproduction and raising animals.

“It’s a huge learning experience … being out there,” Tubbs said.