I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Targeting Excellence sponsors, board of directors, state committee members, and all others involved with this scholarship. As I make preparations for my first year in veterinary school this upcoming fall, I am already very aware of the looming student debt that lies ahead; scholarships such as this one greatly alleviate the financial insecurity common to all veterinary students, and for that I am very thankful.
Prior to entering my undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I had virtually no experience with food animals of any kind; however, after beginning work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Poultry Research Laboratory under Dr. Mark Cook and Maria Arendt, DVM, I quickly gained a passion for poultry. After working as an undergraduate research assistant for three academic years, I have gained extensive knowledge concerning poultry nutrition, immunology, and husbandry. Their unique reproductive tracts, different than any of the ruminants or monogastric animals that we study in our reproductive physiology classes in the Animal Sciences major at the University, especially intrigue me, and I have spent long periods of time examining the various involved tissues and organs while dissecting birds in a poultry class in which I am currently enrolled.
Given my recent discovery of my avid interest in chickens, I am now faced with a difficult decision as I enter veterinary school this fall. Four years ago, I would have declared without hesitation that I intended to become a small animal veterinarian, dealing exclusively with domestic dogs and cats. Now, however, I am torn between three possible career choices. Although the thought of becoming a small animal veterinarian and working in a private clinic still appeals to me, I am likewise attracted to the idea of specializing in poultry and seeking employment either in a poultry research laboratory, such as the one in which I am currently involved, to continue developing vaccinations and growth enhancers for broilers and layers or in the larger poultry industry as a private veterinarian working hand in hand with large-scale poultry operations such as Tyson or Pilgrim’s. As I prepare to enter my first year of veterinary school in the fall, I aim to keep an open mind and to take a variety of electives, including both small animal-focused and poultry-focused options, so that I can thoughtfully decide which career path best suits me.