‘Like another Family’: Vet student Amy Hansen, Auburn Steeplechaser
After competing for the University Kentucky for three years, Amy Hansen joined Auburn’s track team in 2018 while studying in Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Amy Hansen traces her desire to become a veterinarian to her favorite childhood TV show.
“I have grown up loving Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. He was my idol growing up, and I’ve always grown up in a family with animals,” said Hansen, who recently completed her first year of studies at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “Always been around them. Ever since I was little, [I’d] strap on my boots and my khaki pants and go marching out into the woods.”
Amy’s love of athletics, specifically running, equaled her love of animals.
In high school in northern Kentucky, she began competing in steeplechase, a distance race in which runners must clear hurdles and water jumps, an event Hansen continued while studying animal sciences at the University of Kentucky.
“Not many people ran it and it was an up-and-coming event,” she said. “It’s getting better and better every year. That was a chance to me to step in and really be able to contribute coming in as a freshman.”
During the 3,000-meter (1.86 miles) race, the five barriers, including the water pit, keep Hansen focused during her 7.5 laps around the track.
“To me, it breaks up the oval,” she said. “I applaud those who run the 5K and 10K and not get dizzy and distracted. Running the steeplechase, it keeps you really into the run, and keeps you interested every time.”
After graduating from Kentucky in 2017, Hansen enrolled in Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine With one season of outdoor eligibility remaining, she joined Auburn’s track and field team.
“It’s been the smoothest transition I could have ever asked for,” she said. “It’s been incredible to be a part of the team. Every single person has been so welcoming and so nice. It feels like another family. It’s nice to have something separate other than school all the time.
“I knew that this was going to be so busy, and it would have been hard to just cut and dry end it, and I wanted to make sure I could incorporate both of the things I love, and try to make it happen.”
Being in classes from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. each day makes training a challenge, especially for someone who runs 40-45 miles per week.
“I wake up at 5 every day, and I start my runs normally at 6 in the morning,” she said. “If it’s a double day, I’ll run after school, or I’ll squeeze something in at lunch or on the weekends. Coach [David Barnett] has been really great with trying to work out in the mornings.”
‘I fell in love with it’
Since 1951, students from Kentucky have paid in-state tuition at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, with Kentucky’s Council on Post-Secondary Education paying the difference through a contract with the Southern Regional Education Board.
The partnership, which effectively makes Auburn the state school for the Commonwealth’s aspiring veterinarians, steered Hansen to the Plains. “I didn’t come down and visit here until the interview,” she said. “I met with the coaches and I met all the faculty here, and I fell in love with it.”
Growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee, before moving to Kentucky at age 14, Amy cheered for her hometown Volunteers before trading orange for Wildcat blue.
“Ever since I was there, yes, [I] bleed blue through and through,” she said. “Now I have to shout, `War Eagle!’ I’m going to have a Crayola box of colors by the time I’m done.”
On pace to graduate in 2021, Hansen says running inspired her interest in orthopedics and rehabilitation in veterinary medicine.
With gratitude to Barnett, head track coach Ralph Spry and College of Veterinary Medicine associate dean Dr. Dan Givens for easing her transition to Auburn, Hansen completed her track career in the SEC Championships.
“It has been an incredible honor to race in an Auburn uniform and be a part of such a well-respected program,” she said. “I absolutely need to thank everyone who has played such a pivotal role
in helping me get to where I am today—Dr. Givens, Coach Barnett, Coach Spry and my amazing friends and family who have always believed in me.
“I am very sad that this is my last season competing as a collegiate student-athlete; however, it has been an incredible honor to race in an Auburn uniform and be a part of such a well-respected program.”
While she won’t be competing anymore, Amy will still be running, often with her “best four-legged running buddy,” Murphy.
“Running is more than just a hobby; it’s a part of who I am,” she said. “It has taught me self-discipline, determination and comradery. It has rooted lifelong friends.”
Wildcat. Tiger. Steeplechaser. In three years, Amy Hansen will be able to add another title. Veterinarian.
“I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian, so it’s amazing that this can actually come true,” she said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Written by Jeff Shearer, a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com.