Serviam: I will serve. I know this saying quite well. After all it is the mission statement of the high school I went to. For several years I said these words, but it took far past graduation for its true meaning to resonate with me. I have always had a weak spot for the animal “underdog”. When my childhood vet’s office took in a litter of abandoned kittens, I chose to adopt the runt because I was afraid no one else would want her. While working with a cat rescue, I took in the senior cat with health issues after he had been “returned” by a previous adopter. When adding a dog to the family, I chose the abused senior golden retriever because I didn’t want her to live her entire life not knowing what love and kindness were. I chose the shut down 6 year old Great Pyrenees because I never wanted him to associate a human hand with pain and suffering ever again.
My personal beliefs and choices are reflected in my professional life goals. I want to serve the forgotten, the poor, the sick, the undesirable- the “underdog”. I have focused on shelter medicine because I believe all animals regardless of circumstance deserves access to quality care. I help run a low-cost healthy pet clinic because I believe the human-animal bond experience should not be accessible to only the financially secure. It is not a coincidence that I wrote,” I want to use my background in politics/international relations and mix it with veterinary medicine to create a hybrid niche where I am able to deliver exceptional veterinary care to areas and populations that for various reasons (cultural, political, economic, geographic) would not otherwise be served,” in my post-bac application that began this crazy journey 6 years ago. My heart knew then what my brain is working towards now.
This is why an opportunity to serve with Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS) is so important to me. RAVS combines community service and veterinary education to deliver free veterinary services to underserved rural communities where poverty and geographic isolation make regular veterinary care inaccessible. The RAVS program treats more than 7,000 animals every year in remote and under-served communities where there is no other veterinary care. You can watch a brief video of the impact RAVS has on these isolated communities here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCPT7j0rcVY&feature=youtu.be The trip that I have been selected to go on is to the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona. On this trip, we will be establishing a MASH-style veterinary field clinic in the heart of some of the reservation’s most remote communities to help those without access to care. We will be providing four days of small animal spay/neuter and one day of wellness and sick animal care. I’ll gain hands-on experience in everything from diagnosing illnesses to performing surgery. While information learned in the classroom is important, it is the out of classroom experiences that will transform me into a “real” veterinarian.
Soon, I’ll put on a pair of scrubs and head to a place I’ve never been before. I’ll be joining a team of veterinary students and professional volunteers to provide care for the animals in this remote community. I know this will be one the most challenging weeks of my life, with long hours, little sleep, and uncertainties about basic things like showers. I am okay with this and even look forward to the challenge because today with a better understanding of who I am and the reality of the world around me I am choosing to reaffirm my commitment to Serviam.
My fundraising effort is to help defray the costs of running the San Carlos clinic, which provides the services so desperately needed in this underserved community. So if you can, please consider donating to this cause. No amount is too small.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
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