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Wednesday
Oct082014

A Cripple, a Burst, and a Newborn Love

Sally Moseley, St. Matthew's Veterinary School

Experiences, Winner

 

     Many of us can probably say that our love of animals began the first time we saw a dog, the first time we held a kitten, the first time we rode a horse.  Some fond, early memory—or group of memories—often represents our journeys to becoming veterinarians.  Also interesting with perhaps an even greater variety are the stories of our love of medicine.

Every time we prepare for interviews, someone knowingly informs us that we cannot just say we want to become veterinarians because we want to help animals.  A medical student cannot say he wants to become a doctor because he wants to help people.  Many vocations are conducive to help people, animals, or even both.  Something about medicine is particularly alluring for all of us to rack up debt while spending years in school.

Benjamin Bunny was the first vehicle that drove my love for medicine.  Prior to first grade, this was the equivalent of showing me a shiny trinket that I could have easily discarded without a thought.  Many such shiny things turned up around this time and in the next couple of years.  And many times I found my shiny thing was merely a paper clip, and it, though useful, was not the exciting thing I once thought it was.  However, in this particular case, instead of discovering a paper clip I discovered a diamond.

Benjamin Bunny died the summer before I entered first grade.

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Tuesday
Oct072014

My Life as a Penguin Trainer

Eric Littman, Tufts University

Life as a Vet Student, Honorable Mention     

 

     The sound of blood pounding in your ears. The blood-curdling scream of a two-foot tall dinosaur descendent echoes off of the fiberglass exhibit walls as you are charged by a being with no fear whatsoever. You stand resolute, knowing that if you flinch or attempt to escape, the little menace’s aggressive behavior will have been reinforced. Beak sinks into flesh. Flippers strike your shins with impunity. Pain. The tantrum slows and finally ends. He walks away acting like he has won, but you know the truth: his aggressive behavior did not pay off – his true goal – to make you leave his territory – has failed. You are a Penguin Trainer!

 

People who haven’t worked with penguins may look at this description and be utterly confused. Penguins are adorable cuddly creatures that sing, dance, surf, drink coke and slide on their bellies! Though I’ve never seen a penguin ask a polar bear for a bottle of soda, they can still be adorable and cuddly, but that takes time and hard work. Many people think of animal training as “Sit. Good boy. Here’s a treat.” And though that is one aspect of animal training, it doesn’t cover the animals that may not eat more than two to three pieces of food per day. Much of penguin training actually consists of reading behavior and knowing when to stay put, and knowing when to distance yourself. Offering treats (in this case fish) can be effective, but they make for short training sessions. Progress with penguin training is not measured in hours or days, it is hard-won in weeks, months and sometimes even years of relationship building.

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Sunday
Oct052014

My Unusual Resume

Sarah Blau, NC State

Life as a Vet Student, Honorable Mention

 

“You haven’t worked in a clinic! What did you do before now?” a classmate asked me during our first month of our first year of veterinary school. I mumbled my way through an answer that skimmed the surface. You see, it’s rare to find a veterinary student today with such a hole in their resume as mine. My lack of clinical background makes me quite anxious these days and a bit embarrassed. So, I’ve decided to write about it.

 Let me introduce myself: I’ve been a science writer, a firefighter, a trail-builder, and a horse wrangler. Before all that, I was a physics student at a small liberal arts college without a clue as to where my life would take me. In just under four years, if all goes according to plan, I will be a veterinarian. And when I stop to think about it, I wouldn’t trade my past experiences for anything.

 As a science writer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Research and Development, I learned to translate complex research, weighed down by scientific-jargon, into fascinating stories that non-scientists could understand. You know how there are electronic devices that you can speak into in one language, and they translate to another language? That’s what I did at EPA—I translated science to English. Now, as a veterinary student, I realize how necessary it will be to use this skill to communicate the goals and methods of veterinary medicine to a non-veterinary audience. Without the appropriate “plain language,” how can our non-veterinary colleagues and clients understand and appreciate what we do?

 As a volunteer firefighter with the New Castle County Emergency Services Corps, I learned to confront emergency situations with a sense of calm and control. As a person of authority, you can become a solid foundation amid the chaos of an emergency. Hey, I’ll probably be doing that as a veterinarian too—providing a calm foundation during animal patient emergencies. My firefighting experience should be a big plus.

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Saturday
Oct042014

Handmade "Valka Haddock" Costume

Walker Roberts, University of Florida

Creative Corner, Winner

 

I have made everything you see in the pictures from the cloth to the armor to the props. I also modeled the costume myself during the costume competitions and photo shoots. This particular piece was based off Valka Haddock from How To Train Your Dragon 2 and was made with a mixture of microsuede, foam (insulation, expanding,  and craft), and various paints over the course of a month. This costume won first place in the Western Division Craftsmanship Competition at Colossalcon 2014.

Friday
Oct032014

Life Lessons from a Spider Monkey

Kate Connell, UPenn

Foot In Mouth Disease, Winner

I’m sure that by this point in your life you’ve been told that our primate relatives down the phylogenetic tree are pretty damn smart. They use tools, work together to work out puzzles, and have demonstrated the ability to innovate. I’ll bet you can also figure out that smart animals in captivity are a pain in the ass to keep captive. They reckon that if you’re dumb enough to try to keep them in a cage (even if your intentions are noble, as mine were while I was working at a wildlife rehabilitation center), they will try to make your life a living hell.

            So let me set the scene for you: this is ARCAS, a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center buried in the steamy jungle of Guatemala. Most animals are brought in by the police in efforts to quell the illegal pet trade. The air is full of mosquitos, biting yellow flies, and the incessant screeching of scarlet macaws and roars of howler monkeys. You sleep in a screened in guest house, enjoy a drizzle of cold water for your afternoon shower, and eat a diet based around rice, beans, and tortillas. The other volunteers range from backpacking Europeans and vacationing Israelis to high school dropouts and PhD candidates. The permanent staff members are sturdy Guatemalan men who are quick to joke and constantly impress volunteers with their ability to lift really, really heavy stuff. Everyone is working their butt off from dawn until past the heat of the day to keep cages clean and feed the three hundred plus animals in the facility.

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