The content of this blog reflects my personal experiences and opinions during my veterinary school education. It does not reflect the experiences or opinions of my classmates, colleagues, or the UC Davis School of Veterinary medicine. If you wish to contact me via email: hamaleo11@gmail.com

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Welcome to Spring Quarter

It's the beginning of Spring quarter! Days are longer, class hours slightly shorter, and best of all, we have several Fridays off! 
I've started my first week off in the wildlife/companion animal nursing rotation in the hospital (also known as CAPE). They basically see anything that is not a dog, cat, horse, llama, alpaca, or food animal. I got to give several injections SubQ to a hawk, which was really cool. He seemed to be doing well and will probably be released into the wild soon. I never thought I would do much with birds, but maybe someday I can help injured wildlife (only when I know how to properly restrain them) without injuring them...which is easy to do! Or injure myself for that matter...

Since I started training for my new job this week, I've been at work a lot outside of class. I'm here at 9am in the morning and I head home around midnight. Keep in mind that this is not going to be my regular schedule (I think I wouldn't be able to keep that up), but I will be working 25% of the time. I sleep about 7 hours then wake up and study/prepare for the day in the morning. So far the green tea has been working very well, but many say I will soon be addicted to coffee. :)
Here is what our schedule looks like this quarter:

My goals this quarter are to have fun, enjoy my courses, and get better grades. I have several obstacles in the way of these goals, however, I feel if I try hard I can overcome them. 

I've recently started training as an Equine Intensive Care Unit Technician. Soon I will be a Equine ICU technician in the hospital. I am very excited to start such a great job where I will get valuable experiences taking care of critical care patients. I feel as though giving up some of my spare time will be well worth getting hands on experience in the equine hospital. 

I just have to keep up on my grades and studying since they are vital to my education. I hope to find a happy medium between balancing school (usually from 9-5 each day), work a couple times a week, usually 6-8 hour shifts, and studying outside of class, and oh yeah...fitting in some time to spend with my family and boyfriend. *Sigh....you gotta love veterinary school combined with an over-achiever personality. I almost went one year without a paid job, however, I happened to find myself in one. I am very grateful for the opportunity and hope to gain valuable skills for my future career as a veterinarian. I think the best part will be not only helping the hospital's equine and camelid patients, but learning what a good technician can contribute to my career as a vet. Many vets are only as good as their technicians because they rely on them for their bread and butter...to draw blood, run blood work, execute a advised medical treatment plan and notify the veterinarian when it might need to be changed accordingly. A vet is lost without their technicians when case load becomes high, they need to be able to trust their techs to help them get through the tough times. 

I am very excited for some of my courses this quarter, especially parasitology and immunology. My immunology course is taught by my mentor, Dr. Laurel Gershwin, a very well know and respected immunologist and wonderful professor. 
I expect great things of myself this quarter and it is already flying by, less exams, less finals, but a whole lot of interesting material to cover! 

I shouldn't forget to mention another personal goal of mine is to become one of the head coordinators for the Mercer clinic when our class takes the reins this May. I really have some great ideas to make Mercer run smoother and provide high quality veterinary care to the pets belonging to the homeless. I also plan to continue volunteering at the occasional spay/neuter feral cat clinics, hopefully setting myself up to help to be a volunteer coordinator at the Sacramento clinic during my third year. 
Also, I learned that research shows that meditation provides you with many health and wellness benefits, so I hope to continue my meditation practices and improve my well-being.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Veterinarian Fired After She Finds Neglected Horses

I was shocked when I read this article in the NY Times. An Equine Veterinarian, Dr. Stacey Huntington was fired after discovering and documenting neglected horses. She was originally hired by Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and the Mellon Estate Trustees to examine the quality of care and life of the foundation's retired thoroughbred horses. Her evaluations were intended to help improve the TRF's management and health of their horses. However, what she found was poor management and many underweight horses. She did not report anything to the media, but made her reports and submitted them to the Foundation immediately following her visit to the farms. Somehow the news of the neglected thoroughbreds made it to the news and they fired Dr. Huntington.

I found this post from Dr. Huntington herself on a website in response to criticism by other veterinarians:
"#14 about 5 days ago by Stacey huntington
It is amazing to read comments from a respected e-veterinarian who has no problem questioning my ethics and yet has very little grasp of the facts. I was hired by both the TRF and the Mellon estate trustees. I have examined 857 horses on 19 facilities. My findings in each evaluation were given to the herd manager of TRF immediately after each facility was evaluated. The herd manager facilitated the urgent care problems. I have not given joe drape any of my pictures, evaluations, or specific findings. Dr. Hogan, you need to get the facts and not allow yourself to be used in this way."

I believe Dr. Huntington only had the horses in mind when she completed her evaluations of the thoroughbreds at the farms owned and operated by the foundation. I believe she did not deserve to be fired at all, let alone but her reputation as an equine veterinarian on the line. As a veterinary student, I feel I must look ahead into the future and seriously consider all job offers and what problems may arise with them if I found evidence that made my employers look bad. I think Dr. Huntington was only trying to help and the foundation took her findings all out of hand and fired her for unknown reasons not pertinent to treating the affected horses quickly and efficiently.

In most recent news, it seems that the TRF is planning on continuing their evaluations. 

Spring Break and SAVMA Symposium

 This year, the SAVMA Symposium was held at UC Davis, SVM. Although it was over my spring break and I wasn't too excited about sitting in our lecture halls to hear symposium lectures, it was a wonderful experience. UC Davis will not host the symposium for a great number of years as the host college rotates yearly. The people who planned the symposium did a wonderful job and worked really hard to put on such a great event. Mother nature did not participate in symposium festivities although she was made herself present. I think everyone who came to the "California Dreamin" Symposium expected sunny California weather, however, it was raining almost the entire time! Not only raining, but windy and just typical CA weather that often comes and goes during the winter/early spring. 

I enjoyed meeting students from all over the country and globe. We had many international students come from Holland, Turkey, England, Ireland, Spain, Serbia, Australia, and many other countries. I even had the opportunity to host an international student from Turkey. He was in his first year of veterinary school (which is 6 years total in Turkey) because it includes your undergraduate education as well as the professional veterinary education.

I was lucky enough to be selected for a wet lab: equine lameness and nerve blocks. It was a wonderful experience and I got to administer two nerve blocks. I think my favorite part was the review of the distal equine limb anatomy. And to top the experience off, our group's horse was very sweet and willing to let us learn on him. He was also a great candidate for the wet lab since he had a bilateral forelimb lameness. 
The evening events were a lot of fun and were very impressively put on. The first night was supposed to be kickball at Raley Field (the Sacramento River Cat's baseball stadium), however, the weather didn't play nice, so they still had us go to the stadium for ball park grub and beer tasting. We also danced the night away to a live band called Bog Spavin. The second evening event was 80's night at Freeborn Hall followed by a bar crawl. The third evening event was wine, appetizers, art, and dessert at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. 

Although my spring break really feels like it never happened, I did really enjoy the symposium and all the memories that will stay with me forever. All the wonderful people I met will always remain close and I wish them all success in their veterinary education and profession. There will never be another chance during my time in veterinary school that the symposium will be held and hosted by UC Davis.

Monday, March 28, 2011

everything I Need to Know About Life, I Learned From A Horse...

I'm retiring one of my favorite shirts of all time, my 4-H horse t-shirt. I love it a lot, but it has holes, stains, and is pretty much never worn anymore, so I think it is time to let it go. I thought I would share with the world my experiences in 4-H and share the message from my t-shirt. 4-H is a wonderful program for children of any ages and there are so many different types of projects, I was involved in horse (obviously), shooting sports, and scrap booking clubs. I had wonderful learning experiences and met children with similar interests as mine. 4-H also has leadership opportunities which look really good when applying to college as well as leadership conferences. I highly suggest 4-H for any child, they will find some type of project they are interested in, and if they don't, the 4-H organization can help them start their own.

Don't be just one o the herd, to be heard * If you need to get somewhere, hoof it * Don't let others corral you * Munch hay while the sun shines * He who lives with a herd... learns to watch his step * You've got horse sense - Use It! * Who needs electricity when you've got natural gas? * New shoes are an absolute necessity every six weeks * Never run when you can walk and never walk when you can stand still * Ignore cues. They are just a prompt to do more work * Everyone loves a good, wet, slobbery kiss * In times of crisis, take a poop * A swift kick in the butt will get anyone's attention * Horse sense is usually found in people with a stable mind.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lady GaGa: An important message for everyone

Last night, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Lady GaGa concert in Sacramento with my mom and sister. Now before anyone goes off on how crazy and weird Lady GaGa is, think about how much she has achieved in her life. How much she has contributed to the pop culture music scene. 

Last night at her concert (which was an outstanding performance), she left the crowd feeling free by telling everyone to just be who they are because "they were born that way." She also told the audience to NEVER let anyone lead you to believe you can't do something you dream of, don't ever give up on your talents, or let anyone talk down your accomplishments. Stand tall and be proud for what you believe in. I think everyone should embrace her words of wisdom. 

"Lady Gaga is on top of the world right now with the help of her catchy tunes and outrageous ensembles, but she claims she's just a normal girl. We're not so sure we'd go that far, but we like her point: Everyone can do great things if they work at it."

If you want to learn more about Lady GaGa, please visit her wiki page

Pre-Veterinary Advising: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

 Let's face it, if you are planning on pursing a career as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, you need some sort of advising. You may think you can do it on your own, but I'm telling you from experience it is best to seek someone who is experienced with the admissions requirements and process. Most schools offer free advising services of various different types. There is academic advising, pre-graduate school advising, pre-professional (like pre-vet) school advising, peer advising, career advising, etc. At least at Davis there are so many different types of counselors to choose from. It can often be overwhelming for undergrads trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. In my opinion, you should visit all the counselors available to you. The more information and knowledge you can get regarding your potential career choices the better. The more connections and job fairs you attend, the better chance you will succeed in your future. 

You can Google all you want, but that doesn't make up for being able to speak to a real person about the admissions process. Of course, using Google as a resource helps to get a head start, but you should really discuss your academic plans with an academic adviser. I have found some very resourceful information on most veterinary school websites. They are often really open to conversing with you and usually list if they have any specific prerequisite requirements. If you plan on pursuing any professional or graduate school, planning ahead is essential. You need to get the right experiences as an undergraduate AND keep your grades up. Most importantly, you need to make sure you are taking the right prerequisite courses. 

I also suggest if you are interested in VetMed, start your educational/advising plans early. Starting in middle school is not too early, starting after a second career is also not too late, but obviously you have to work harder to catch up.

Take what academic advisers say with a grain of salt. If your gut feeling is you don't believe something they tell you, please double check their statements or comments with someone else. In the past, I have been "advised" to take courses I do not need, I have been told to repeat courses I did not need to repeat. Counselors may know a lot about advising, but they do NOT know everything. They only meet you for a brief moment and are asked to give you advice that will greatly affect your future and educational experience. I was once told by an academic counselor that if I didn't apply to multiple veterinary schools then I obviously did not want to be a veterinarian that badly. I'm sure if you have ever read my blog that you know that this is NOT true, but that was what I was told when I applied to ONLY UC Davis for the second time. They were sure wrong weren't they? And looking back on it, I remember that counselor made me cry because I was so uncertain about my future and if I could really get into vet school or not (which is something I TRULY wanted). So please, take what they say with a grain of salt, use them as a valuable resource, but be sure to check your resources to make sure they are presenting accurate and up to date information.

Here is some really great advice on becoming a veterinarian from a well respected vet that has established his own blog: http://avetsguidetolife.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Welcome class of 2015!!!

The Class of 2014 UCD SVM

Just under a year ago, we took our oath at our white coat ceremony after completing our orientation to veterinary school. The beginning of our veterinary medicine education and the start of a career for the rest of our lives. 

I cannot believe it has been a whole year since I received my letter informing me that I had been accepted to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine! I remember there was lots of celebrating involved and I still couldn't believe it had actually happened. Well let me tell you, It HAS HAPPENED! You have been accepted to one of the greatest vet schools in the US, congrats on getting into UC Davis! 

If you guys have any questions, especially only ones current veterinary students can answer, I'm all ears: feel free to comment on my blog, facebook me, or email me. Heck if you even want someone to show you around Davis, let me know :) and WELCOME!
White Coat Ceremony: Reading our oath
My first real white coat! With the UCD logo! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lampang/Southeast Asia Native Pony Preservation Project

I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a lecture about the Lampang Native Pony Preservation Project given by Dr. Siraya Chunekamrai DVM, PhD from Thailand (and Cornell) and Dr. Carla L. Carleton from Michigan State University.
Ever since I attended the lecture Equitarian aid in third world countries my first quarter of veterinary school, I have been inspired to do something about the world's horses that are still used for the livelihood of many societies. These women and many others who have participated in their research and education implementation in foreign countries are so very inspiring for me to keep pursuing my dream of becoming a vet.   

The presentation focused on the research completed on the ponies heritage and knowledge of diseases they had been exposed to. The population of ponies near Lampang is unique in that over 200 ponies had not been vaccinated for anything (except two ponies for tetanus toxin), however disease prevalence was very low. 

Most of the difficulty Lampang and other third world countries are facing is the lack of balanced nutritional and veterinary prevention programs for their horses/ponies. Dr. Chunekamrai mentioned that many of the horses diet's were low in Calcium which can lead to many health problems and orthopedic injuries resulting from weak bones. 

The reason for incorrect feeding practices is not because the people of Lampang are cruel, it is because they are uneducated on basic horse care. The Lampang Pony Welfare organization seeks to provide people with education on proper horse care and management. They want to produce good farriers that can provide these beasts of burden with proper hoof care, they want to teach people that the horses now need a Calcium supplement since they are no longer able to graze on local pasture (and absorb vitamin D) since the city has grown and expanded. I think their most important mission is to teach the children of the community how to properly care for their animals to ensure them, a long, healthy life so that the pony can continue to provide for it's family by working.

On Lampang's Pony Welfare Organization website, I found the following synopsis on their DNA project: "Initial interest was raised by our team members because of the unique appearance of many of the northern Thai ponies appeared similar to other ancient horse breeds. From 2003-2007 hair and blood samples were collected for study. The results of a subset of the samples from the ponies of northern Thailand and a small number from Cambodian village ponies were presented in February 2009 in Bangkok. Thai native ponies share many characteristics of domestic horses, the mean number of alleles present per locus was found to be substantially different from domestic horse breeds. The diversity of their genotype exceeds that of all other domestic breeds thus far studied by the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of California, Davis. The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory responsible for this analysis is the most technologically advanced and carries the largest equine genetic database in the world."

This bit of information shows that in fact, Lampang ponies represent an ancient horse heritage that has been mostly preserved from many modern horse breeds. They are sturdy, sure-footed, even-tempered, and are hardy enough to handle extreme temperatures and work environments. If only we can teach the people of Lampang that they have something precious that they need to preserve. 

Tourism in the area of Lampang has pushed the people to want larger ponies, however, their ponies are perfectly suitable to their jobs and economy. When tourists see little ponies pulling such large carts, they are more hesitant to want to ride on them, which is a detriment to many Lampang's citizen's income. People may view it as cruel, but these little ponies are just right for the job. It is sad that tourists are putting so much pressure on the people to cross their ponies with Arabians and Thoroughbreds that turn out to be less than ideal for pulling carts that are not properly fitted for them in extreme weather conditions. Crossing these hearty ponies also weakens their heritage as much as their function. 

 I am again awed at the wonderful work this organization has done and continues to do. I also learned that there is a World Equine Veterinary Association which is of great interest to me. I am glad that the world can come together on such issues such as veterinary care of the horse. Sharing knowledge and education is the way of our future. 

To learn more, and see how you can help, please follow these links:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Closing Budget Gaps: The Veterinary Education Crisis

In the most current Dean's update from Dr. Bennie Osburn (the current Dean of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine), he wrote that “it appears that over the last 2-years, the U.S. veterinary schools will have collectively lost more than $125 million in state funding.” 

This statement is not a shock to me, but is of a major concern. With the increased need for veterinarians, we need to keep our veterinary schools full and up to par with the highest education standards possible. If there is not money for veterinary schools, it will be unlikely that the schools will be able to produce skilled, competent veterinarians with such diminished resources. 

In an article that appeared in DVM 360, it was mentioned that “UC-Davis relies on state funding for about one third of its budget and has endured $5 million in cuts over the last three years. The university is planning a tuition increase of about 12 percent — from $27,045 to $30,246 — for the 2010-2011 school year.” 
These tuition hikes greatly affect my classmates and I. Many wonder if veterinary education will hit a tipping point. "Several U.S. veterinary colleges have met initial budget cuts in part by generating more revenue through higher tuition and increased enrollment.However, these institutions are likely approaching a critical threshold on tuition costs, as evidenced by median educational debt of $130,000 reported for 2010 graduates, an increase of 4 percent over 2009. High student debt load is not surprising, given that mean annual tuition for students at U.S. veterinary schools during the 2010-2011 academic year is $40,017 for full-time, out-of-state students and $22,348 for in-state students."

It is difficult for me to understand why people still think that taking their pets to the veterinarian is too expensive, with such extensive loan debt upon graduation from veterinary school, many new grads are struggling to find a job even though the need for veterinarians is high. I do understand that the general public is under a lot of pressure to meet the basic care needs of their pets due to such an unfortunate economy, but they need to understand where veterinarians are coming from. We would love to offer reduced services for those in need, but our own lives would be greatly affected by this and we would be unable to keep the clinics open and stocked with necessary drugs, staff, and tools for quality veterinary medicine. 

I really wonder how far the schools will have to go as far as accepting budget cuts and managing them effectively. How bad will the states let the veterinary schools get before they decide to raise taxes on the richer sector of our country and re-allocate this upside down pyramid of an economy.

As state buget cuts continue with no sight in end, I think our states and our country need to consider the importance of higher educational needs for the future of our country, it's citizens, our animals and the world.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Finals Weariness

I'm sure everyone in my class is feeling it, the pressure of having 6 finals this quarter! I wish I could say I was as bright-eyed as the above cat, but I'm more like the cats below. 

 That's right, I'm exhausted! I did manage to squeeze in a ride on Tina today, I think that is all I can do to keep my sanity. And thank heavens that the last final is tomorrow and will be over around 11am. Then I'm heading off for a weekend of backpacking in Point Reyes National Seashore. Being a veterinary student is not easy sometimes, but is fun most of the time when there is not pressure from exams. I feel like I did well on all my finals though and passed all my classes this quarter (at least I think)! Yay for vet school!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

UC Davis #2 Veterinary School

It's official, I had to make this special post during the middle of studying for finals just because I am so excited! UC Davis was awarded second place (under Cornell University) as the "Best Graduate School in Veterinary Medicine." Click on the link to see the article

If only anatomy was this easy!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Round 2: Applying to Veterinary School the second or multiple times

"I applied to Davis this year but didn't get in. I was expecting it though,  I'm pretty sure it was because I have so little experience but I have to wait to schedule a phone interview in April to figure out. Did you do the phone interview after your first application? Any suggestions on questions to ask?" 

This is a great question I recently received from a UC Davis SVM applicant, talk about perseverance, this person is all over it! Way ahead of the game by thinking about these things early. 

Personally, when I applied to Davis the first time, I didn't expect to be admitted, but I did hope to learn a lot from the application process and I sure did! 

I have to say, I am not one of the ones that actually did a phone interview to find out why I had not received admission, but this is NOT advisable. Looking back, I honestly do regret not having done a phone or in person interview with the admissions committee to find out what I could improve, but I was a little scared to have someone point out my "faults" (If you could even call them that...). I guess I felt I knew what I had to do to improve and didn't want it driven into the ground. 

I realize now, that it was NOT the best decision I have ever made, and I think I could have probably been a stronger, more competitive applicant had I chosen to reflect on my "faults" and sought out specific places my application needed improvement. That is the whole basis of the veterinary profession, to learn from your mistakes and be a better person/veterinarian because of it. No one is perfect, so we might as well get comfortable with that fact and do our best to get close to it.  

In response to the question, what can you ask the admissions committee (whom are very friendly people at least at UCD I must add) is that ask them anything you would ask someone you consider to be your mentor. First of all, make sure you care about what you are asking, if you don't at least pretend to care. They don't want to waste their time talking to you if you don't really care what they have to say. I think it is important to keep in mind how many applicants they talk to every year including those that are selected for interviews and those who are not. To be quite frank, to them, you are just another applicant, when you call to find out why you were denied an interview, I believe it is also part of your application process (although I doubt they write anything down, they may remember talking to you next year when they select the new interviewees). I'm just saying it is important to act professional at all times when applying to such a competitive program, I wouldn't let my guard down.

When assessing what went well and what could be improved in your application, I would begin with a "self reflection." Look over your application and pretend you are the admissions committee, what really stands out that convinces them you are the right person for their veterinary school? What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses. 

When I did this for example, I was almost rolling on the floor laughing when I re-read my personal statement that I had submitted with my first application, it was pretty bad. It was a good start, but definitely lacked individuality. I also realized what little experience I really had in vetmed and knew I was already improving those experiences by getting involved at the veterinary school in research and internship positions. Another weakness I had was the GRE, my scores were not great. My strengths were that I was determined and worked hard to do better my second go around. I also had a lot of experience working with horses and I knew that veterinary medicine was my passion. 

After the "self-assessment", I would recommend discussing your application with your mentor, close friend, or family member (or all of the above). Just having an outside opinion comment on your thoughts about your strengths and weaknesses will really help identify things you might have missed or overlooked. 

The second personal statement I wrote, I had to work very hard to articulate what I felt in a 1500 word essay. I had to convince the committee that they wanted to interview ME. It was about a three month process and I really got tired of reading about myself! In the end, I think it turned out fine though and I did land myself an interview.  

I don't think you need to wait to April to figure out a game plan for next year's application (which I already know you will start EARLY). I don't think it would hurt to make a plan now and then discuss your plan with the admissions committee in April. You can always edit the plan later and go from their if they give you additional advice. 

The best advice I can give personally is it really is sometimes about WHO you know and WHAT you have done. Who wrote your letters of recommendation? were they good letters? were those people dependable and influential in their field? That was one of my biggest improvements, I had done research with a UCD SVM faculty member who is a highly respected professor/veterinarian/researcher and just a wonderful person who wrote my third letter of recommendation. Among the other two letters, one was from the same person who had written my first letter and the other from a horse trainer I had know and worked for for almost 8 years. 

Don't underestimate your experiences, don't sugar coat them or exaggerate them. If you really haven't gotten the experience to confirm you want to and can be a vet, I think you shouldn't apply to veterinary school. These pre-vet experiences are vital to your success in veterinary school and in the profession.

Lastly, I encourage you to look at the link below to maybe answer some of your questions. These are common questions asked by applicants every year. Make sure you try not to ask these questions when you have your phone appointment with the admissions committee, unless you need more details. Again, remember how many people they have to talk to. 

And even after that, don't give up on your dreams! You can improve, just have perseverance!  

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cow Power!

Yep, it's time to palpate the RUMEN! As a vet student, you need to know what you're dealing with and thanks to the lovely fistitulated cows that make their home at UCD, we get this great opportunity! 
 And here is the money shot, I was eventually shoulder length in Rumen! 
 Above: The layers of the rumen
Above: This is a collection of metal collected on a magnet placed in a cow's reticulum. Why put a magnet in there? Cows often consume hardware which could potentially penetrate the diaphragm and possibly the pericardium or even heart. Magnets trap metal objects the cow may happen to digest and prevent them from harming the cow. The magnets are administered orally, that is unless you are a fistitulated cow! You can pull the magnet in and out through the fistitula!

 Above: a shot into the fistitula of the cow. Really cool! A lot of rumen contents has already been removed, but will be returned to the cow after everyone has had a chance to palpate.

 What makes up a rumen?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Scholarships: My Road to Vet School

At the CA state Fair Scholarship Gala with "Poppy" the bear

I have had a lot of people ask me about Scholarships. Money is a growing concern for everyone receiving a higher education these days. Let's face it, our economy is not doing well. I wanted to share my personal experience of paying my way through school by obtaining over $15,000 in scholarships. I also worked during my undergraduate education which you can see from my experiences

My parents did put aside some money for me to attend college, as they started saving when I was just a baby, they purchased bonds in hopes to make money off them later when I was all grown up and ready for college. I was also left some money from my Great Grandmother when she passed. She lived a long happy life and I am so lucky to have met her, whenever she visited she always gave us cookies and milk. She lived on the small island of Alameda, CA (near the bay area). 

Anyways, I haven't touched any of that money yet thanks to the generous amount of scholarships I have received over the years. I don't know the best way to help you find the scholarships that are right for you, but I can give you some tips on how to start looking. 

I would begin by doing your best to apply for scholarships in high school because this is when they are most available. I received $5,000 after graduating from high school just from applying for scholarships offered through my high school by the local community. I won a scholarship from the FFA program, and from the local community organizations. I decided to go to community college instead of a university or state school to begin with so I could save money and stay close to home. I think this was the best idea I ever had although I did miss out on the dorm living, I still don't think I missed much, plus tuition was $26/unit and I averaged about 16 units a semester, so all in all tuition was under $900/year plus the cost of books/parking pass, etc. I also applied for scholarships every year of college, averaging about 2-3 scholarships ranging from $500-$1,000 each per year. I searched the internet high and low for scholarships relating to my career field as well as applying for scholarships through my community college. I also joined Fastweb, which gives you a list of questions regarding your religion, race, age, career interest, etc. and matches you will scholarships you are eligible for. I also highly recommend applying for FAFSA (federal and state financial aid). It never hurts to apply and you might get money from them! I did when I started my first year at UC Davis. Also, see if scholarships are offered by your parent's work. I know some companies offer scholarships specifically for dependents of their employees. Also the military takes great care of their soldiers and their dependents. My Step-father served in Vietnam and I get benefits for being one of his dependents. I only found this out in the middle of last year, so I have only received benefits since then. So exploring those options early if they pertain to you is a great idea. I encourage you to go talk to your school's financial aid office and ask them for help, that is what we pay them for anyways! Also, don't forget to get scholarship applications in by their due dates and most importantly don't forget to include all the application materials. I have heard this is the most common reason for people not winning scholarship monies they applied for because they forgot one little part of the application. So don't let that be you! I got a phone call once when I accidentally sent an unofficial transcript with one of my scholarship applications and was told that unfortunately my application would not be in consideration for their scholarship award. I was crushed because I had applied and received this scholarship before and couldn't believe I had overlooked such a minor detail. So check and double check your application packet before you submit it. 

Google has been one of my favorite search engines when looking for scholarships, I often use key words with "scholarship" such as "equine" or "veterinary" or "transfer" to locate scholarships that are right for me. Often, scholarships are not advertised or right in front of you, and often must be sought out. 

On another note about your scholarship application packet, only include what they ask you for, they don't want a bunch of extra paper included that they have to sort through to get the information they asked for. If they ask for a resume, keep it to one page in length and really only include what is relevant to that scholarship application. Also, never use staples with your scholarship application packed, I have found that many committees prefer paper clips over staples, because it enables them to easily view your application, but also to take a page out of your application and pass it around to other committee members. The only thing I would recommend including unless they say not to include it is a photo of you. This is a really big push for them to award you the scholarship, because they actually see you and I don't know if it's proven, but I believe it may help over applications without photos. If you are going to include a photo, it must be professional or close to it, for example, I included a photo from my senior portraits in high school, one with me and my Arabian horse, "Cal" at the time. Another thing you can include unless the application states "only" is extra letters of recommendation. The more people that recommend you for the scholarship, the better and keep in mind they must be GOOD letters of recommendation from someone that really knows you. Most scholarship applications ask for 2-3 letters of recommendation, but sometimes I have included 4 outstanding letters. I honestly don't know if this really helps, but I'm sure it won't hurt. 

Just make sure your application is the best you can do, you don't have to use fancy paper, but make sure the printer made the text clear, that everything is spell-checked, in order, etc. The better you can present your application, the better chance you have of getting yourself elected, they usually don't get to meet you although some scholarships have interviews, your application may be the deciding factor in awarding you the scholarship. It is very similar to applying for a job, you want to be the desired, respectable, and knowledgeable candidate. 

Start Saving for college EARLY!!! It is worth the investment.

Scholarships I have received: 
California State Fair Scholarship (two times)
West Coast Equine Foundation Dick Randall Memorial Scholarship (three times)
Arabian Horse Foundation Scholarship
CCPOA (California Correctional Peace Officers Association) scholarship (two times)
Placer/Nevada County Cattlewoman's Scholarship (two times)
FFA High School Scholarship
Perry/Stella Tracy Memorial Scholarship (three or four times)
Cameron Park Rotary Club Community Scholarship
UC Davis Transfer Student Scholarship (covered my first year of tuition at UCD)
The Rourke Family Foundation Scholarship 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Neurology on the Brain

Yes, it's a brain cake! We made this cake for our neurology professor to celebrate our last lecture as well as his up-coming birthday. The cake itself is chocolate with cream cheese frosting, but the brain is made from pure marsh mellows and powdered sugar. We even made it anatomically correct by using our knowledge from neuro class. It was super fun, and one bite of the brain is enough to send one's body into a diabetic state. Probably enough to kill a diabetic! It's almost an entire bag of powdered sugar and a whole bag of marsh mellows. I don't think the pictures do it justice! Yay for fun in vetmed!