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How I Became a Veterinarian - Part 2

Updated: Apr 19

I left off with 2008 - wow! That's 12 years ago?? Hey-zus! Anyway, in the spring of 2008 I took the leap and left the GV Zoo headed towards Calgary. I was determined to establish residency in Alberta. I didn't have any family or friends in Calgary, but I connected with the owner of the Calgary Aradia Fitness studio. I did a quick transition from working in the Vancouver and Cloverdale Aradia locations to working at the Calgary locations. Soon after my arrival in Calgary, I saw a job posting for a relief keeper at the Calgary Zoo (I think at the time they called them Zoo Labourers because they were employed with the City of Calgary and unionized). The gentlemen that interviewed me in Calgary said they were waiting for me - I suspect that word from GV Zoo traveled to them that I would be in the city, and perhaps looking for a new job. Between my part-time work as an instructor at Aradia Fitness and working summer hours as a zoo labourer I got by, so that by the time I was ready to go back to school I was settled into this new city. I made some friends in Calgary, while I don't chat with them often, I would consider them life-long friends. Both from Aradia and from the Calgary Zoo.

In 2009, I started full-time schooling at the University of Calgary. I took courses towards a degree in Zoology, because I didn't want the school work to be going towards nothing. After my first midterm in Biochemistry I had a meltdown. It was a mini panic attack. Imagine blasting through a midterm exam that has two instructors, two booklets in 90 minutes. Each instructor wrote enough questions for that alone! I vaguely recall the count down when we had 15 minutes left. I hadn’t even started the next booklet! Yikes! So I flipped to questions I knew I could answer right away, tried to calm my brain from freaking out during the exam. The instructor called the clock. I look around, no one had left early, the guy in front of me hadn’t even started the second booklet. This was awful! How was I supposed to boost my grades for vet school when I couldn’t even complete a biochem midterm?! When I got outside that cold fall night I just bawled. I was so upset. I felt like I knew the material, but didn’t have time to finish! I immediately emailed the course coordinator in a panic. She was lovely. She said if I could wait until they had graded the exams and then meet with me afterwards. I ended up with an 86% on an exam I didn’t finish writing. That’s probably a problem in many classes where there are multiple instructors. Then, they are forced to bump the curve up a notch because they can’t have everyone fail.

From Sept 2009 to April 2012 I was in Calgary completing another Bachelor of Science degree. I knew I was missing a prerequisite for the UCVM (Calgary vet school) which was an English class. I also knew that I needed a full course load of a minimum of 8 courses for the school year. This was all by the guidance of the UCVM admissions office. I couldn’t get into an English class that fit with the rest of my schedule until January. So I took 3 courses in the fall and 5 in the winter semester. Turns out that 3+5 is not the same as 4+4 (who knew?!) and my application got tossed aside. I was so frustrated that this small detail prevented me from getting an interview. I cried, again:

But WCVM was willing to give me a chance! I got a second round interview for spring of 2010, my first vet school interview! Unfortunately I was so nervous with the interview and felt ill-prepared for it, I definitely cried during the interview. Well, the outcome is simple if you know basic arithmetic, knowing I graduated in 2016 from a four-year program.

Anyway, I was determined, persistent and a bit crazy. I did some more volunteer work at a small animal clinic, as well as a hunter/jumper stable. I tried to contact some folks with cattle to get that experience, but no one replied.

I fixed up my full time schooling to four classes per semester, and in 2011 I interviewed at BOTH schools. My mom was visiting during the week I had my UCVM interview. At the advice of the WCVM interviewers, who suggested I go for a run before to get out my energy so I wouldn’t be so nervous, I prepared myself by going to a yoga class the night before and got up early to get my sweat on by dancing around the living room. I felt much more relaxed going into the UCVM interview than my interview the previous year. So for any of you with up-coming vet school interviews, I would highly recommend to sweat it out before you go in!

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