Deciding on career path can be one of the most daunting decisions you must overcome as young adult. The choice to pursue either college or university education at barely 17 or 18 years of age does not permit for much time (if any) to experience the working world, and only adds to the pressure of making such a crucial decision; one that society believes will affect the rest of your life.
It wasn’t until just recently that I now understand why I often heard people, peers, friends, and family members tell me how lucky I am that I just “knew” what I wanted to be in life. And for me the answer was simple: I wanted to become a veterinarian. (Might I point out that this is much easier said than done – but I’ll get to that later.)
Sure, as young kids we all aspire to be great figures of authority within society -firefighters, policemen, doctors - or perhaps we dream to grow up just like our parents, becoming teachers, engineers, or architects. But how many of us are actually lucky enough to get there? Along the way we all get side-tracked, life intervenes, we discover new avenues, and before you know it we’re off down a path our 5 year-old brains didn’t even know existed.
My love for animals fueled my passion to pursue veterinary medicine. From my earliest childhood memories I knew that I wanted to help the creatures of this earth, great and small, and that becoming a veterinarian was the path I was destined to follow. I knew it would be tough, and I heard countless people tell me how extremely difficult it would be to get accepted – boy were they right.
In my last year of high school I elected to do a co-op placement (in a veterinary clinic of course) in order to finally get my feet wet within the profession. I had no idea what to expect, and honestly was quite nervous to see how it would compare with the visions in my head. As fate would have it (and I still think of it that way) I was chosen to do my placement at the Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic. It consisted of 3 hours in the morning, Monday – Friday, for about 5 months. But that ended far too quickly for my liking.
And so I headed off to UOIT where I completed a bachelor’s degree in biological science, and during my summers off I came back here to volunteer whenever I could. By this time I had done enough research to know (and scare myself) about what it would take to get accepted into the Ontario Veterinary College – where there are only 100 seats per year for Ontario residents…yikes. Being one of the top veterinary schools in the world, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. Most accepted applicants have thousands upon thousands of hours of veterinary and animal experience, in addition to academic averages in the 85-95% range. If this wasn’t hard enough, well-rounded applicants typically have thousands of extracurricular hours as well. It seemed like a near impossible feat.
So I buried my head in the textbooks, and spent as much time as I could volunteering. It was another truly fateful day when I received a phone call from none other than the Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic offering me a position as a Veterinary Assistant. I was absolutely ecstatic that such an opportunity had arisen, and could not be happier to join such a fantastic team of individuals, committed to the welfare and care of animals. It was enlightening to see all the time and hard work I had invested start to pay off.
As you are reading this, I have been working here for just over a year, and have loved every second of it. Thanks to the Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic, and their unwavering belief and support, I was on my way to gaining the experience that would make me a competitive applicant.
After taking several months to prepare my application, I was selected as one of the top 200 applicants chosen to undergo the grueling interview process. Drawing on my experiences here at the clinic helped in more ways than I can explain, and I can happily tell you that less than two weeks ago I received my acceptance into the Ontario Veterinary College, Class of 2020 – the single greatest moment of my life. My dream of becoming a veterinarian is now closer than ever.
I often look back to that moment in high school, when I was selected by the Bowmanville Veterinary Clinic to complete my co-op placement. At the time I did not fully appreciate the significance of that event, but now I cannot help but notice how important a role it played. Without their support, I would not be where I am today.
The most important thing I learned through this journey (which is far from over) is to follow your dreams, believe in yourself, and don’t give up. Turn your dreams into reality, and live the life you always imagined.
Stephanie Spencer, OVC 2020