Written by senior infielder Ashley LaPenta
Besides family tradition and my passion for softball, you would have to dig a little deeper to find out the main reason I chose the University of Connecticut for school is my love for animals! UConn has an excellent Animal Science program that prepares undergraduate students for just about any field of work involving animals that you can imagine, including veterinary medicine. Ever since I can remember, I thought animals of all shapes and sizes were the most fascinating creatures. I knew then that my dream job would involve working with animals and being able to provide assistance for those in need. Now, as a senior, I am one step closer to my dream. I have officially applied to a variety of Veterinary schools, which was a daunting process. Each application requires specific materials, taking a test, and a written statement; some even had additional supplemental portions. It was a very stressful experience applying, but one that I knew would get me one step closer to my dreams.
I started working in a veterinary clinic back home the summer after my freshman year; instantly I fell in love! I learned valuable skills set that I would not have learned in a classroom. I’ve been there for 3 years now working as a veterinary technician. However, working there also made me realize that I have so much more to learn. The Doctors that I work with are exceptional. They are so quick and confident when diagnosing a problem and speaking with clients. I aspire to be like them but I used to feel that I would never be able to be as confident or efficient as they are. What I now realize, is it takes time to acquire the knowledge and experience, time that I hadn’t accounted for initially. The most difficult struggle I knew I would need to overcome is ending the life of an animal, regardless of the reasons. How was I going to become a veterinarian if this was such an emotional struggle for me? Needless to say I had a lot to consider about becoming a vet and at this point I slightly panicked. Just kidding, I extremely panicked! I hadn’t known of any other option other than Vet school and I already committed myself to 2 years of undergraduate work towards it. I didn’t know what I was going to do, and so I decided I would see what else was out there and take one day at a time.
Thankfully, by the time the summer before my senior year had come around I had discovered the world of animal rehabilitation! This is essentially physical therapy for animals. It involves stability balls, hydrotherapy baths, laser therapy machines, and so much more. This world was meant for me. Being an athlete, I know a lot about keeping my body healthy and it’s not just humans that need help with this, animals do too. This revelation was amazing! It just seemed like a perfect fit for me, almost like combining two of my favorite things. I now know that I will be trained and prepared after vet school to be just as confident and efficient as the vets I work for now.
Until recently, going to vet school was just something I talked about, now it’s becoming a reality. For me the fall consisted of the usual, school, softball, and social life accompanied by seven veterinary school applications all due by October 2nd! The pool of vet schools is minimal; there are only 28 schools in 26 states in America. That doesn’t leave many options, unlike medical schools. When October 2nd rolled around I knew the process was now out of my hands. This started the waiting game.
Unlike getting accepted into college, veterinary school admission, is not just about what you look like on paper. Each school requires an in person interview. I was surprised and ecstatic to hear back from Iowa State via email that I was being offered an interview on November 11th! I was filled with emotions! I was excited and nervous all at the same time. Immediately, I got on the phone and called my mom to start working out the details of flights and travel plans. The first interview is always the hardest but I will take away valuable skills that will help me with other interviews that I will get in the future. I’m so grateful for what softball has taught me and for the opportunity to excel in academics at UConn. I’ll put both to good use in the next chapter of my life and I could not be more thrilled to see how it all turns out. Who knows where I’ll end up next year, but I will definitely keep you all posted on the road to my future!
That’s all for now!
Ashley LaPenta # 19