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Will Underwood

Will Underwood
Knoxville, TN United States
Stuff About Me:

So here's my story...
My whole entire life, I've had basically two interests: animals and art. One of those, animals, was my absolute passion. When I was a little kid I used to introduce myself to people like this: "Hi, I'm Will. Do you have any pets?" What a little weirdo.

I worked in three different pet stores to fuel my interest and in school I did anything possible to relate studies to animals. Art class was all about painting and drawing animals. Biology gave me opportunities to write research papers on the medicinal possibilities of poison dart frog toxins as a new morphine. Blah, blah, blah, you get it, I was absolutely nuts about learning anything and everything about any type of animal.

I did really well in high-school (3.5 GPA) and hardly ever cracked a book. That was my first problem, because when I got to college I didn't know how to study. My biggest problem, however, was that I wasn't sure I wanted to be a veterinarian and that I HATED math. Since pre-vet students had to take a bunch of math, I wasn't too pumped about that. I also wasn't too pumped about the idea of looking at dogs and cats all day. Looking at fido's ear infections or giving kitty vaccines 24-7 didn't sound like the most exciting prospect, especially with SO many other interesting species out there.

So when you mix uncertainty with confidence problems and add in a dash of poor work ethic, what do you get? Academic Probation! That's right, my first semester at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville I made the "opposite of Dean's list." What was I going to do? Obviously since I was on academic probation I didn't have what it took to be a vet (seriously, that's how dramatic and stupid you are when you're 18). So I floundered around without direction and long story short, I ended up pursuing an art career at Western Kentucky University after a brief semester at Columbia State Community College.

So I ended up studying photojournalism at WKU, which I was pretty good at but wasn't very passionate about. Oddly enough, I also found ways to relate my studies there to animals, like doing a photo story about Project Noah Inc., which is a small sanctuary in Russellville, KY for lions, tigers, servals and reptiles (you'd think I'd have realized how dumb I was being). In 2005 I got my BA with a concentration in visual studies from WKU.

Pretty soon I was working for a small design firm in my hometown of Franklin, TN. Since the firm was pretty small, I got to be lead artist, designer, pre-press manager, photographer, R&D, all sorts of new stuff. So I had a lot of new things to learn and a lot of responsibility and that was cool. I definitely learned how to work hard and manage my time. But every day I felt less challenged by my work; even worse, I felt selfish about it. I was sitting behind a computer screen all day with no real interaction or connection with anyone...I was just collecting a paycheck. My heart and soul yearned to take part in something bigger than myself and to impact the lives of others. I knew something greater lay in store for me and that I was squandering my real gifts in a career that was never truly designed for me.

Blessings are often disguised, and the housing market crash of 2008 was no exception. Economic instability forced my firm to close its doors and I found myself without a full-time job. I went back to free-lancing (which paid really well) but I still wasn't happy about what I was doing. Ultimately this situation forced me to reevaluate my life and redefine what type of person I wanted to be. I knew that I could no longer continue to pursue a career that didn't make me happy. After much deliberation, prayer, and counsel from friends and family, I decided to pursue my true calling of a career in veterinary medicine.

Immediately, I enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University, got a job at a local veterinary clinic called the Animal Health Center and began my uphill climb of becoming a Veterinarian. 

I took classes in biology, physics, chemistry, statistics, organic chemistry, microbiology, genetics, etc. Guess what? They ALL require math! You can't avoid it, you have to deal with it. But I decided that I was going to buckle down and work. I was going to do whatever I needed to do to be a vet.

I don't consider myself a smart person, but I AM a hard worker. I had to be. When you suck at something the only way to get better is to work harder at it, and that's what I did. In all of these nonsense science courses my worst grade was a B. WHAT!



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