Getting into veterinarian school is no easy task.
Last year, 1,178 students competed for 131 seats in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
This summer, 10 students increased their chances of taking one of those seats.
The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine‘s Summer Enrichment Program gave 10 undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in the field of veterinary medicine. The program targeted students who have overcome particular challenges in order to receive a higher education, such as learning English as a second language or financial hardships.
“We are committed to increasing diversity to reflect the communities the profession serves,” said Yasmin Williams, director of admissions, in a press release. “This program is a vehicle that will also allow students from disadvantaged backgrounds to better prepare themselves for the rigors of the profession before they apply.“
The Summer Enrichment Program started in 1987, and nearly half of the program’s participants have gone on to enter a doctor of veterinary medicine program.
The participants receive free instruction. Room and board is not covered, but students do receive a small stipend to help pay for these expenses.
This year, the program began July 7 and ended Aug. 8. John Wesson, a third-year veterinary student, coordinates the clinic sessions and activities.
For five weeks, students received hands-on experience in the veterinary world. From 8 a.m. until noon, these students attended different clinics in which they get to experience the inner workings of veterinary medicine. From 2 until 3 p.m., students attended lectures that cover topics including from radiology, neurology, cardiology, dermatology, behavior and dentistry.
Katherine Bellew, one of the participants in the Summer Enrichment Program enjoyed the hands-on experience that she received.
“This is a good place to feel what vet school is about; a lot of things are spur of the moment,” Bellew said. “It’s like you get to see the backstage of veterinary medicine.“
Monica Bacina, a recent graduate of UC Davis, said she felt that the experience of the Summer Enrichment Program would help her decide what field of veterinary medicine she would go into.
“This program gave you a good general idea of what you want to do,” Bacina said. “[Knowing what you want to do] helps because you have to write a personal story and you have to do interviews [for vet school].“
In addition to the clinics, lessons and the occasional field trip, the Summer Enrichment Program provided students with tutorials on interviewing, essay writing and studying skills. Wesson and 10 teaching assistants helped the students with their lessons.
Aisha Young, a third-year at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, described the challenges that the students face when applying to veterinary school, such as the GRE.
“Wesson has been running them through the Graduate Record Examination – it’s like the graduate SAT,” Young said. “There is a 45-minute issue essay and a 30-minute essay in which you have to break down someone’s argument. Wesson’s helping [the students in the program] with their writing skills.“
At the end of their program, the students had to go through an interview process where Williams critiqued them.
Hai Nguyen, a junior at UC Davis, said the program was worth every sacrifice.
“We start at 8 a.m. and sometimes we don’t leave until 5 p.m., but we get a lot of animal experience,” Nguyen said. “It really gives you an advantage when applying for vet school.“
Wesson said his favorite part of the program was being able to work with the students.
“There weren’t programs like this at any of the schools I’ve attended,” Wesson said. “No, not even close.… The students‘ enthusiasm made it incredibly rewarding. They gave us all a boost.“
At the end of the day the students were giving Bessy, a UC Davis veterinarian’s dog, a neurology exam. They sat together laughing and joking with each other. All of the students agreed that the Summer Enrichment Program brought them together.
“We’re friends,” they all said in agreement.
“No, we’re like family,” said Nguyen.
MEGAN ELLIS can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.