As part of ValuePenguin’s Future of Veterinary Care series, we will be interviewing students across the nation’s pre-veterinary and veterinary programs to learn more about their experiences and paths towards becoming certified veterinarians.
We caught up recently with Amanda Wong, a junior at UC Berkeley pursuing a degree in Molecular Environmental Biology. Amanda is Vice President, webmaster, and Historian of UC Berkeley's Cal Pre-Vet Club, and has experience in small and zoo animals.
What influenced you to pursue a pre-vet or vet program?
I have always maintained a fascination with animals from a young age and I knew I wanted to pursue a career that works closely with animals. Pursuing veterinary medicine became the obvious choice for me early-on, although I also considered zookeeping as my mom brought me to the zoo all the time when I was little. After gaining volunteer experience in both settings, though, I know veterinary medicine is the path for me.
Why should other students consider a focus in Veterinary Medicine?
Veterinary medicine is truly a labor of love, and although many students are intimidated by the amount of required coursework and hands-on experience they have to have under their belt before applying to veterinary school, going into this line of work can be very rewarding. The veterinarians I've spoken with all love their jobs!
What has been your experience with Pre-Vet medicine at your college?
My experience with pre-veterinary medicine at my school has been both challenging and positive. While the coursework is very rigorous and the academic environment is extremely competitive, I have found support in the Pre-Vet Club on campus. By surrounding myself with peers aiming toward a similar goal, I've been able to build a friendly support network. The other officers of the Pre-Vet Club and I work hard to provide the pre-veterinary students at my college with as much accurate information about the field as possible.
Please share and describe your best experience working with animals.
My best experience working with animals was during a summer internship at my local zoo. I spent that summer hosting live wildlife shows and teaching zoo guests about exotic animals, ranging from Chaco horned frogs to golden eagles. I think the best animal experiences are ones you can share with others -- I love seeing people's faces light up when they learn a cool fact or touch a porcupine for the first time!
Have you participated in any volunteer or veterinary internships?
My internship at Healthy Pets Veterinary Hospital exposed me to a wide range of veterinary medical practices in a small animal clinic. I have been fortunate to observe a variety of procedures, such as endoscopic spays and laser therapies. The doctors at Healthy Pets utilize both eastern and western modalities in their work and it's amazing what a little food therapy or acupuncture can do. I absolutely love working with the team of doctors and staff there!
Nature Trail Volunteer at the San Francisco Zoo
Junior Zoologist at the San Francisco Zoo
Wildlife Theatre Intern at the San Francisco Zoo
Hospital Intern at Healthy Pets Veterinary Hospital
Undergraduate Research Assistant at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (Wake Lab)
Please share some interesting or little-known facts about animals.
The mythological banshee calls are believed to have their origin in the calls of a Barn owl. Another name for them is "Hobgoblin." Also, the heart-shaped faces of Barn owls give them one of the most acute senses of hearing ever measured!
What are your future aspirations and career plans?
After attending veterinary school, I want to learn how to practice holistic veterinary medicine -- I guess you can say I was heavily influenced by the doctors at Healthy Pets!
Anything else you’d like to share?
In addition to keeping up your grades and garnering animal and veterinary experience, I think it's important to get involved in other types of student organizations as well. I am currently co-president of a service group on campus that puts on an annual free educational event for kids, and my experience with that organization has been extremely rewarding.