Pre-Vet Club helps students explore veterinary medicine

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Pre-Vet Club — a club that traces its roots back to 1928 — is a preprofessional club that helps students interested in veterinary medicine get involved in various aspects of the field.

At close to 180 students, the club includes people from various majors including Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences and Animal Science in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. The current club president, Rachel Jaksec, is a senior VBS major from Ellicott City, Maryland. She and the other executive board members work hard to ensure meetings are informative, interesting and fun.

The club tries to include all areas of veterinary medicine, from small animals to production animals to wildlife. Since a majority of its members are freshmen and sophomores, the club also aims to give students an introduction to veterinary medicine and help them get a handle on the veterinary school application process, Jaksec explained.

Club meetings frequently feature guest speakers who talk about their areas of expertise and give students advice about their careers in veterinary medicine. Past speakers have included Jenny Fisher, clinical assistant professor and veterinary pathologist, who spoke about her work at the Penn State Animal Diagnostic Laboratory.

"She brought in a bunch of case studies with some great pictures; we had a great time listening to Dr. Fisher speak," Jaksec said. Another regular speaker introduces students to the application process for veterinary school, and there is a meeting devoted to resume building with a speaker from Penn State Career Services.

Once each semester, the club organizes labs for its members. These labs include practical demonstrations, giving students the chance to participate in everything from dissections to parasitology research. Coming up this semester, club members will learn more about surgical suturing techniques, breeding soundness and semen evaluation.  

In addition, the club participates in activities to get experience working with various kinds of animals through community organizations such as Centre County PAWS (Promotion of Animal Welfare and Safety), Nittany Greyhounds and T&D's Cats of the World. The club also has been involved in the One Health initiative. According to its website, the One Health concept is a worldwide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment. 

"We like to volunteer to help these organizations," Jaksec said. "We'll do whatever they need, everything from setting up shelters to helping with paper work, and in return we get some behind-the-scenes tours and a lot of awesome experiences."

Jaksec, who is interested in wildlife veterinary medicine and wildlife pathology, advises undergraduate students interested in vet school to work hard to maintain good grades.

"Having a good grade point average is your foundation — it gets your foot in the door. Being able to say that you have animal experience is a must and leadership skills are important, too. You want to be a well-rounded student, but if you don't have the grades to back you up, it's going to be very hard to get into the school you want," said Jaksec, who was interviewed by three of the four veterinary schools to which she has applied, including Virginia Tech, where she was recently accepted.

The Pre-Vet Club meets every other Monday at 7:30 p.m. in 101 Agricultural Science and Industries Building. To learn more, visit its web page here.

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Last Updated March 01, 2018