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Obligated Gift Giving

an op-ed piece that comes at just the right time with holidays around the corner.  At what point do gifts become less meaningful and more of a formality?

I have sat on several boards and a common theme I hear is how much we should give our speakers or faculty that helped during a wet lab. Is this present only in my school? No. I have meet other students during symposiums and conventions and know that speaker gifts are common. We ask these DVMs and other speakers if they would like to volunteer their time to progress our knowledge. Most if not all gladly say yes for the philanthropic aspect, these people enjoy helping future colleagues. Many are even repeat speakers and I highly doubt they return for the gifts, and if so are these the type of speakers we want?

Some students even base the size of their gifts on the size of a speaker, especially those that were flown in or paid to speak. What I don’t understand is how some student organizations can afford to compensate a speaker more by adding a gift. Just because these speakers were paid, are well-known, or flown in, do they deserve something more than those speakers who are local or were not compensated? 

Sometimes I feel gift giving is a way to cop-out on writing an actual thank you. A thank you note should not be written in advance, but after the event. How can you truly thank someone before the deed has been accomplished? I think a thank you note should include a learning or enjoyable aspect taken from the event.

What I fear is that this will become a cycle, where students expect to give gifts and speakers expect to receive them. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate these speakers, enjoy learning from them, and do believe they should receive the utmost gratitude, appreciation and thanks. Am I saying not to give any gifts? No, but don’t worry about it being too little or not enough.

It is just my opinion, but thank all your speakers equally, give feedback, and don’t worry about the size of gifts.

Thank You,

MarkBen Paulino
Michigan State University 


The Road to Vet Med

"Experiences" Submission by Kailey Beckman - Western U

When most people are asked when they decided they wanted to become a vet they will all reply with a similar response: since I could walk. Well this is fairly true for me. An event that happened to me at the age of 8 has made me want to pursue a career in veterinary healthcare ever since. When I was 8 we adopted an amazing dog. This dog came with fleas and ticks so we got him treated and we thought all was well. Unfortunately we were very wrong about this. Our dog started to become very ill; he started to get very thin, had a hard time moving, started to lose his eyesight, and wandered around aimlessly. It was obvious that our dog was in pain but we couldn’t tell where or why. We took him to the veterinarian and after many tests, he was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Sadly our dog passed away a couple years later. After this event I knew I wanted to help animals but I hadn’t concretely decided on veterinary medicine. A few years passed and I turned 18 and I started to become sick. Like my dog, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I had so much pain and felt incredibly sick; I knew it had to be the same as my poor dog. However I had one advantage, I could speak. I could tell a doctor where I had pain and how I felt. Like most dogs, my dog didn’t have this advantage so my veterinarian had to try his best. This is when it truly hit me that I wanted a career in healthcare as a veterinarian. I wanted to provide a voice to animals who did not have one and be able to diagnose and treat animals who could not explicitly tell me where they were in pain. I believe that going through the same experience as my dog has made it clear to me that I will always try my hardest to cure an animal and I will never give up trying to treat an animal even if I have hit a bump in the road. I want to pursue a career in healthcare because I know that nobody should go through that pain and everything should be done in order to help somebody or an animal through it.


Cosplay...part 3!

If there's anything I've learned from being the new Editor-elect of TVG, it's that our fellow vet students love cosplay!  Here's another INCREDIBLE submission by Jilian Athey of Texas A&M!  Congratulations on your Life as a Vet Student Award!!!

   I make and compete costumes, so this is my most elaborate, intricate, and well done set thus far! I am the pink-haired girl, and with this set we managed to take home Second Place in the Intermediate division. It encompassed prop-making (yes I made all of the fake guns, the gauntlets, the armor, goggles, and jewelry), sewing, wiring LEDs, wig styling and make-up, and a million other things. It took me a little less than a year to finish making all of the components, but I had a blast doing it!

So, my costuming hobby, more commonly known as "cosplaying," has taught me a bunch of practical (and maybe not-so practical skills). I've gotten skilled enough at sewing to actually make wearable garments; I've learned a ton about construction, tool types, drill bits, and all that jazz; I've perfected the basics of hair and make-up; I've taught myself how to wire LEDs; and finally, I've learned a bunch of sculpting, forming, priming, and all around crafting techniques. I really enjoy doing this because it combines your stereotypical art class with creativity, foresight, and planning to execute a successful costume. I think this hobby is so addicting because, you go to a Comic-convention dressed as Batman and you get treated like a celebrity for a day! People stop to ask for your photo, others will ask for hugs, and kids will even stare in wonder as they walk by. But, don't get me wrong. I don't do it for the attention, I do it because I love crafting, I love challenges, and I love being able to dress up and "be" a character for a day. It's like Halloween! 
I've attached some progress shots and then the final product of a costume based off of a character, Rengar, from the popular computer game, League of Legends. He is actually a lion, so it was fun to try and figure out how to maintain the feline elements without having a mascot suit. I managed to make heel-less cat feet, gloves, a tail, cat ears, and to top it all off I even had fake teeth! In retrospect, it was definitely NOT the most comfortable thing to wear, but people loved it! 



From Forging Horseshoes to Knives

In her spare time, Alaine Kringen from Iowa State is taking forging lessons and learning to make some pretty neat stuff.  Below is a sampling of photos from two knives she made and inserted into deer antlers for handles!  Congratulations on your Life as a Vet Student Award!


An Indian Summer

submitted by Mackenzie Wilder, University of Missouri 

I am bumping along, in a minuscule green rickshaw down the dusty roads of Faridabad, India. Our driver manages, without signaling, to cross the crowded road containing unclothed children, wandering cows, and honking motorcycles.  Without taking my eyes from the road I can still view extreme poverty. Flies buzz around a diseased dog’s head, cows lie in the street ruminating on old trash, and monkeys jump violently between roofs to steal food.  Dogs travel in packs along the streets, fighting to survive alongside the locals. Rabies is an ever present fear.  By living one month in India, it became apparent to me that veterinarians are a necessity not only to the health and welfare of the animals, but also to the health of the community.

I lived, breathed, and dreamed India during the summer of 2010 when I volunteered through International Volunteer Headquarters as a medical student. Not surprisingly, everyone assumed that I was a pre-med major. After introductions, the owner and founder of Zenith (human) hospital was shocked when I said that my passion was working with animals in the medical field. “Can you seriously hold animals to the same medical standards as people? Why would you want to do that with your life?” Mr. Sharma exclaimed. At that exact moment I thought of at least ten reasons for my preference and I knew he would never understand a single one.  I realized that although the title veterinarian meant absolute nothing to him it meant everything to me; my past, present, future, everything for which I had worked and studied.  I came to the conclusion that there was no need to forcefully defend myself and prove to Mr. Sharma that veterinarians were comparable to physicians.  With my passion shining through, I simply told him that animals were an important aspect of my life. These creatures have taught me immeasurable lessons, from loyalty, patience, friendship, and love to pain and suffering. They have made me into the person I am today and I will do anything for them in return, whether that be through health procedures or companionship. He smiled.

In India, I was amazed to see the difference in animal culture. The vast majority of dogs lived on the street. They had terrible skin problems, and were inflicted with wounds and tumors no veterinarian would ever treat.  In fact, no animal would ever receive treatment because veterinarians basically do not exist in Faridabad, India. One animal in particular still resonates a strong memory.  My significant other and I were traveling to Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal, and we had decided to stop at a sidewalk food merchant due to the tantalizing smells wafting from across the street. As we are crossing the chaotic street, the food merchant is literally kicking a dog out of his corner of the sidewalk. Not only did the loud Hindi catch my attention, but the appearance of the dog made me double take. This dog (comparable in stature to a Labrador) was at least a body conditioning score of 3/9 and his lobulated, ulcerated testicles were dragging the dusty ground leaving a trail of blood behind him. I wish I could have helped him and many others in his condition; it was that exact moment that led me to become passionate about surgery and preventative care within small animal companion animals.

Through this hands- on experience I have learned many things, but most of all I have learned how to adapt into a different culture and mindset.  Overall, it took me two full weeks to understand how people interacted, ate, traveled, and lived life from day to day. Although exhausting at times, my stay in India also helped me realize the impact that a veterinarian can have on society.


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