Second-Year Students Reflect; Remind Themselves ‘Why We Are Here’

How difficult is the veterinary medical curriculum? It only takes a short conversation with a current student at the Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine, to find out.

Second-year students at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine came together with an idea to remind themselves why they are preparing to live a career in veterinary medicine and not focus on the stress of classes and finals, which they finished last week.

The 120-member class created a “Why We Are Here” board to remind them of their ultimate goal. The completed project is 223 pictures put into a collage surrounding a vital centerpiece: their class picture.

“Veterinary medicine is an incredibly challenging experience that has the ultimate reward at the end: to become the best veterinarians we can be,” said Brandon Weyhing, a second-year student from Louisville, Ky., who came up with the idea of the board with a group of students. “Every day is an opportunity for us to get closer to that reward through our hard work in the classroom or clinics.

“We were warned that this semester would be difficult, and those expectations did not disappoint. Long days and endless studying peppered with difficult exams simply deflated the morale of the class.”

Weyhing said the idea of a visual board was born out of a “time of stress and exhaustion, wanting to create something tangible … [and] the support was astounding. Everyone wanted to pursue a project like this because we all understood how important it would be for us every day.”

The students tell their story best, and the College of Veterinary Medicine proudly shares:

Kyra Elsasser, Chesapeake, Va.
“Lane reminds me that I am here because I want to contribute to the health of animals in my community and in doing so, contribute to the strengthening of the human-animal bond in my clients, which will infinitely enhance their lives.”

Jennifer Glass, Lakeland, Fla.
“When our class decided to make a collage of our pets, my immediate thought was to send in a picture of my newly adopted pup, Maggie (pictured on the left). However, I could not leave out the first pet that was truly my own, my miniature dachshund, Bentley (pictured on the right). Following my first semester of veterinary school, I adopted Bentley from a family that could no longer keep him. Our love for each other was instantaneous. Unfortunately, Bentley escaped from our backyard and was run over. Losing Bentley has encouraged me so that one day I can help my clients through their own times of grief.

Will Nunnelley, Anniston, Ala.
“Meet Rupert! This lovable tripod is “Why I’m Here.” I first met Rupert at Animal Medical Center in Anniston during the summer of 2014 between my junior and senior years of undergrad. At the time, I was debating whether veterinary medicine was the profession for me. I began working at Animal Medical Center that summer, and the first day of working the kennels I went in to a run to feed this pup and quickly realized there was something different. Rupert had been hit by a car several months before, and, after a series of unfortunate events, had to have his front right leg amputated. He had been recovering and boarding at the clinic for the several months before I arrived, and he was just getting well enough to be adopted. He had my heart from day one.

“This picture is Rupert after being home with me for a few weeks and it’s a constant reminder of ‘why I’m here’ because it reminds me of how vets go beyond for an abandoned animal that has now brought so much joy to my life.”

Krista Wood, Austin, Texas
“This is a picture of my first rescue horse, Handsome. When I got him he was approximately 20 years old, about 500 pounds underweight, sun bleached yellow, and missing close to two thirds of his tail; so obviously he was a really good looking horse hence the name.

I wasn’t sure I could rehab [him], but in spite of how impossible his situation seemed, I still wanted to try. After months of hard work … I actually pulled it off. Handsome gained all the weight he needed, he learned to trust me, and he became a once-in-a-lifetime horse.

I keep his picture by my desk to remind myself that some of the best things in life come to you when you leave your comfort zone. Vet school is definitely something outside of my comfort zone and at times it feels impossible but I know that I’ll look back in a few years and be willing to do it all over again. Just like I’d be willing to take home a certain skinny sun-bleached horse again.”

Madie Pelletier, Hopkinsville, Ky.
I can vividly remember in elementary school a time when an organization came to talk to students about where our food comes from. I was excited because not only do I love food, I knew it would involve animals and I had probably written in my fuzzy blue diary earlier that week that I wanted to be a veterinarian. When the speaker asked where hamburgers come from and a boy said, ‘from the grocery’, she informed him that the correct answer is from a cow and he was visibly shocked. Little me was internally shocked, not because I didn’t know where hamburgers came from but because not everyone was aware. It was that moment I realized the need to educate people who weren’t as fortunate as I was to be involved in agriculture. Not only do I want to be a vet because I love animals or because I declared it in my diary all those years ago, but also because of the awareness that I can spread through public education. I am pushed every day to be the best veterinary student by the hard work, love, and passion farmers put into their animals. I am driven to be a trusted veterinarian so the community I service will believe in the goodness of the honest American farmer.”

Savannah Meade, Betsy Layne, Kentucky
“The picture I chose to share is one of my favorite Holstein dairy cows from the University of Kentucky Coldstream Dairy. It is this cow, and her herdmates, who inspired me to pursue a career in food animal medicine. My interactions with producers and their animals has given me a passion for agriculture and food safety.  In the future, I want to help strengthen the bond between farm and consumer. Whether it be milk, meat or eggs I want consumers to feel comfortable with their food choices and for the animals to be comfortable throughout their lives. The many hours of studying during veterinary school are easier when I remind myself why I am here.”

Lindsey Brown, Orange Beach, Ala.
“My passion started 20 years ago in the break room of my Dad’s practice. Who needed daycare when you had endless vet wrap, syringes, and stuffed animals to ‘treat’. I grew up working in his practice and learned that veterinary medicine is such a rewarding career to pursue. The opportunities are endless and the Auburn College of Veterinary Medicine does a great job of making these opportunities available. It is a dream come true to be a part of the CVM community and make the dream of that three-year-old little girl a reality. War Eagle!”