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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Austin, TX
Veterinary Medicine: Equine Practice
Summer College 2014
Hello! My name is Gracen. I'm from the outdoorsy, music-loving city of Austin, Texas and attend Veritas Academy. This summer, I will volunteer with a Hippotherapy organization for special-needs children. I look forward to building relationships with the clients and the horses that help them. I have been training in classical ballet since I was three years old, and also enjoy singing in choir, riding horses, swimming, reading and writing.

I began to foster a new attention towards the field of veterinary medicine at the start of high school. I currently work at an animal hospital that treats dogs and cats, and I am delighted to broaden my knowledge at CUSC through the Equine Practice course. I can't wait to spend three enlightening weeks on Cornell's beautiful campus this summer learning about another facet of the career I hope to pursue and making new friends.


I'm actually here! After weeks of anticipation, I have finally found myself strolling down Cornell's lovely campus, taking intriguing classes, meeting people from all around the world and pretending that I'm a college student. My first week in Ithaca has somehow managed to exceed my wildest expectations. The blanket of snow that met me last winter when I stepped onto campus for a college visit has been replaced by luscious, green hills and cool, forested treks to class in the mornings. After being introduced to a plethora of new faces at the ice cream social on check-in day, I quickly found a home by settling into the horse-loving niche that my classmates and professors provided on the first day of classes.

Lectures in the Vet School have proven enriching and multi-faceted. Our coursework covers a wide variety of aspects of equine medicine, and each is unique and fascinating. Towards the beginning of the week we learned the anatomical and directional terms of the equine skeletal system, gastro-intestinal tract and hoof makeup, which carried us through nutrition and parasitology and enabled us to administer a full physical exam in our lab groups on Friday.

My classmates come from varying backgrounds and disciplines of equestrian sport and experience and their unique insights have cultivated an environment defined by an eagerness to discover and learn. Our lunch hours are spent picnicking on the green lawns outside of Trillium dining hall, laughing and telling stories and rarely remembering that we're still high school students who won't continue studying horses in the fall. After lab in the afternoons, my time is spent in one of the lovely libraries on campus or in the cozy hominess of my dorm room for a few hours of reviewing notes, studying and reading. We don't have daily assignments, and are responsible for managing our time in order to prepare for weekly Friday exams and a group project that will be due in the middle of the third week.

This weekend provided an opportunity to explore campus. Our informal, self-guided walking tour, trip to the infamous Collegetown Bagels, manicures in downtown Ithaca, sermon at the beautiful Sage Chapel and climb up 161 steps to hear the chimes concert and watch the sunset at McGraw Tower completed a fantastic week. I am looking forward to delving deeper into my studies and Cornell experiences next week.


As much as I've tried, I've found that it is impossible to fit all of the wonderful things I could be doing here into each day. The second week passed quickly, and as the end of the program draws nearer, I am attempting to extend and make the most out of every moment. From walking to breakfast in the morning to learning new things, participating in labs and going on excursions, each activity remains a unique adventure.

Classes this week began with an introduction to the mechanism of vaccines and the processes of wound and fracture first aid. We learned several bandaging techniques before moving on to lameness exams and the influence of farriery on performance and well being. Ophthalmology provided a new view on acute ocular diseases and diagnoses while an introduction to the intricacies and treatment involved in dentistry, colic and respiratory diseases broadened my layman's limited knowledge. My favorite adventure of the week was observing the treadmill demonstration to review the anatomy and common abnormalities of the upper respiratory tract.

Encouraged by the beautiful weather, I spent the weekend outdoors. In the breezeway of the Ithaca Farmer's Market, my friends and I perused the booths of local farmers, artists and food connoisseurs, coming away with blueberries, lemonade, and fresh flowers for our dorms.

As I research information for a group project and prepare for my final week of Summer College, I can't imagine leaving this wonderful adventure behind.


Throughout the last week of Summer College, I was asked the same simple question: "Are you sad about leaving?" My answer became more and more complex with each time it was given.

Yes, I was sad about leaving, but I would be happy to see my family.

Yes. It was sad to realize that I would soon say goodbye to a course that had fed such a specific interest and return to regular classes in the fall. But I was also looking forward to seeing my family and my pets.

Yes, because while I knew I would be excited to see my parents, my little sister, and my dog, it was becoming increasingly difficult to imagine leaving a place that in so short a period of time had become a new kind of home. I would be sad to part with the friends who had so quickly become dear to me.

The last day of Summer College felt surreal and didn't truly sink in until I suddenly found myself thanking my professors and walking out of class for the last time. The third week of Summer College had been a continuation of the daily routine I had grown to love, and its ending seemed abrupt.

However, now that I am back home in the Texas heat and have had time to process my experiences, I realize that the amount of time I spent at Summer College was perfect. It gave me enough of a taste of college life to excite me about the academic years ahead while providing opportunity to develop new study habits and discover personal priorities for my future life in college. The friends I made at Cornell formed a more diverse peer group than any other I had previously found myself in, and I enjoyed learning about each individual's unique experiences. I am excited to pursue other friendships with people of varying cultures and personalities in college. Though it was sad to say goodbye to new friends as we scattered across the continent and the globe, I look forward to keeping in touch and seeing where everyone's plans lead them in the upcoming years. I know that the information I learned at CUSC about both equine medicine and myself as a student will help throughout college to put me one step closer to achieving my goals.