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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Jersey City, NJ
Veterinary Medicine: Small Animal Practice
Summer College 2011
Hey! I'm Ashley, a junior at McNair Academic High School in Jersey City, New Jersey, 15 minutes from NYC. Some interests are tennis, fashion, film, rock concerts, participating in NYC flash mobs, and most importantly, animals! Tennis has been a love of mine for years, since I am void of aptitude in other sports. My love for fashion is fulfilled by participating in runway shows for upcoming designers. My life has been spent around dogs, hamsters, iguanas, birds, fish, and cats. I live with my blind cat and pit bull who get along very well despite popular belief! The cat was rescued 9 years ago and had recovered remarkable from a neurological condition that almost caused total paralysis; an inspirational event which encouraged me to pursue veterinary medicine. I have been a vegetarian and member of PETA for over a year. I'm excited about attending the Small Animal Practice program at Summer College to meet new people and expand my intellect. Upon completion of the program, I aspire to advocate and care for animals with needs. I am looking forward to exploring Cornell's beautiful campus and being around all the animals (and people of course!).

My last final exam was today and it is time to prepare for my departure to Ithaca on Friday. I have not even opened a suitcase or thought about packing until now, because exam preparation had taken away all of my energy. One of my greatest concerns and fears is forgetting my computer charger and tennis racquet. It is such a relief to complete an immensely stressful junior year. Traveling to Cornell will be the perfect way to get away from the hectic demands of residing in a big city.

My feelings about the veterinary program's potential consists of pure exhilaration, but at the same time is accompanied by anxiety. I am joyful for this opportunity to experience true college life instead of just taking AP classes. The freedom to be away from parents will be awesome, however, those continuous reminders about procrastination will be missed. Looking forward to the four hour drive to Ithaca for the Cornell experience!

Quite a bit of movement and events have transpired over the course of this past week resulting in a blurred memory of check-in day. The amount of cultural diversity on this campus is beautiful (my roommate is from London!). It is an incredible experience being at a venue where the cultural diversity and varied programs work so well. Being exposed to such diversity will make Summer College a memory of a lifetime. Besides diversity in culture there is a diverse food selection in the cafeteria to satisfy any palate. It's hard not to pack on a few pounds from consumption of ice cream at the social, snacks at the campus food shop, and the items delivered by off-campus vendors. I have traveled to the local area to shop (URBAN OUTFITTERS!) and to catch a movie (Transformers 3). A lot of time has been spent at the bowling alley, conveniently located on campus within walking distance from the dorm. Walks around the campus and moments seated on grass lead to observations of animals such as rabbits and chipmunks.

My veterinary medicine class covers a myriad amount of material, including lectures on anatomy, bones/muscles of live animals, dissections, and evaluation of common ailments. The anatomy lectures are far more stimulating than regular school science courses on account of Cornell professors providing more depth of content. Dissection of cat, dog, dolphin, chicken, and various birds has been intriguing and a reminder that bodies are machines that require good care. Humans and animals share common ailments requiring similar treatments and rehabilitations. Daily, I look forward to lectures and to the friendly demeanors of the professors and veterinary aides who make the experience conducive for learning.

Seated on grass chatting with friends and observing a divine sunset, I began to reflect upon the summer college experience. Words fail to describe the wonderful encounters, activities, and intriguing veterinarian program. The long strolls made through the university campus, trying not to get lost, and trips to the mall were adventurous. Making a purchase for a bus pass was an excellent investment to shorten the distance between my dormitory and the Veterinary school. The bus pass has proven to be especially helpful to get around to the Commons and Collegetown without having to walk the far distances. Not to sound lazy, but I had to save my energy for playing Frisbee, since that actually seems to be a big deal around here.

Veterinarian medicine has been the most interesting science studied during my entire education. A load of material has been learned over these past few weeks. The professors provide instruction with emphasis on pertinent material void of fluff. The professors and teaching assistants keep the students entertained with continuous jokes and additional images to lecture presentations. The labs following lunch daily are delightful desserts because of being able to study and label hearts and lungs of a dog or cat. The pet emergency and vaccination lectures were quite informative. Several guest speakers involved with veterinary medicine visited and provided enlightening lectures on interesting topics like developmental defects, ophthalmology, and shelter medicine. Did you know that animals can be born with a developmental defect resulting in one eye? My Cornell binder literally does not have enough space to hold all the volumes of information from the lecture PowerPoints. The content in the binder and the tour of Cornell's veterinary hospital have made me aware of the numerous areas of specialties that can be pursued to contribute to the betterment of animal health, e.g. ophthalmology or shelter medicine. There is so much more to veterinary medicine than the stereotypical small animal doctor career.

The dorm lounge will be missed as the spot where frantic preparations were made for quizzes. This program will forever be deemed as a very enlightening, memorable experience and I am dreading the idea of going home!

The last Summer College week was totally awesome! Additional trips were made to Collegetown to eat food not served on campus and gulp down bubble tea. The wonderful strolls on campus are memorable for the mix of colonial and contemporary architecture. The Uris Library has stunning scenic views and volumes of books/materials to entice anyone's reading desires. The fresh air and open terrain will be missed along with the random water gun fights. The difficulty saying good bye to my friends led to prolonged delay. It was great being around so many brilliant students at Summer College as demonstrated by the constant musical instrument noises heard around, the high sat scores uttered in a no-big-deal manner, and the enjoyable acts at the talent show. In class, people seemed so thoughtful, full of interesting ideas and questions about the material which gave rise to new thoughts in my own mind.

The last week of veterinary class involved a cornucopia of material ranging from pet first aid and radiological reviews to the evaluation of actual gastrointestinal systems. The students were split into groups to review a case study and figure out a plan for treatment of a particular disease state. For two days, the professors and teaching assistants all brought their dogs for us to examine, which was very exciting. The dogs were cute, friendly, and fully compliant to the handlings, especially Dr. Hermanson's little one. Besides moments of play, heart sounds were auscultated, capillary refill checked, restraining techniques performed, and more. CPR was learned via a realistic stuffed toy. All of this newly attained knowledge will be so useful for the care of my own domestic cat and eighty-pound Pitbull. The veterinary school library was cozy and resourceful for doing my paper on feline leukemia virus. Finding books written by Cornell graduates made the experience seem so surreal.

This has been the longest period of time I have spent away from home. I enjoyed the independence and having to do laundry, keep up with valuables, and time management without the regulation of an adult. I learned numerous things about myself and others. Life cannot be learned from textbooks but through myriad experiences such as Cornell Summer College. Departure from hometowns to make contact with such academically talented and kind-hearted individuals during the three-week veterinary program will never be forgotten. Now, I am ecstatic about the start of senior year with an improved sense of self.

Honestly, prior to attending this program, I was somewhat indecisive about pursuing veterinary medicine as a career. I am now thinking about studying animal science and biology in college. Cornell University will definitely be the number one choice for my college admission. I fell in love with everything this school has to offer. Cornell literally felt like home with its constant flow of great energy and knowledge. I would be remiss not to mention the terrific roommate who made my stay pleasurable. There is not a single regret in my mind about choosing Summer College at Cornell. The memories will be cherished for a lifetime.