I come from a small town just a little south of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We didn’t live in the country, but we had a nice big pond on our property filled with ducks, geese, and the usual array of amphibians, and of course we always had cats and dogs running around. Naturally, I developed a bond with all these little creatures and my love of animals only increased as I grew up. I realized at a pretty early age that I wanted a career working with animals and, eventually, figured out that veterinary medicine was exactly what I wanted.
I entered Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge majoring in Animal, Dairy and Poultry Science, which served as pre-veterinary work and was followed by acceptance into veterinary school at LSU. Veterinary school was wonderful. I enjoyed every class, even though they were challenging, and when we finally started our rotations at the hospital in my third year, everything fell into place for me.
Following graduation, every veterinary student must do a one-year internship. I was accepted, and chose to do, an internship at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center in St. Paul. Now, that’s climate change! I had never really experienced “winter” in south Louisiana and didn’t even own any warm winter clothes. I knew I was getting into a really good program that would be demanding, but I wasn’t worried about those challenges. Instead, I was really worried about getting through the challenge of winter up north! One of my graduation presents was my first parka and I can say I made very good use of it.
This internship was a wonderful experience. Working in a large, busy hospital gave me incredible experiences that I could not have had working in a smaller, specialty practice. The caseload and the pace were demanding and the expectations for professionalism and high quality patient care were rigorous; but best of all, the camaraderie and collegiality were exceptional. Such a busy but very supportive professional environment prepared me for what I found here at the Flint Animal Cancer Center.
Since my second year in veterinary school, I had been interested in oncology. I am fascinated by the comparative aspects of the specialty, as well as the constant innovation and discovery. With my interest in chemistry, I’m attracted to studying cancer at the molecular level and I find the research being done at the FACC both compelling and hopeful. As much as I love the science of oncology, I also appreciate the unique nature of the relationship veterinary oncologists share with their patient families. It is a strong bond of respect, understanding, and hope.
Prior to being accepted into the residency program, I visited the FACC for a one-month externship, taking cases and soaking up everything I could. The experience reinforced my belief that oncology was where I wanted to specialize, and I am thrilled to be working, studying, learning and engaging in research in this specialty at the best place in the world to do so.
Although I sometimes miss the unique culture, history, and environment of my home state, I am having a wonderful time exploring everything about Colorado and the western United States. I also have some very loveable companions with whom I share my life: Annie, a yorkie; and Frankie, a Catahoula Leopard Dog. The Catahoula Cur is an American dog breed named after Catahoula Parish in Louisiana. After becoming the state dog of Louisiana in 1979, its name was officially changed to Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog. I also have two very sweet and loving male cats, Ted and Merlin.