Dr. Gerald Pijanowski, associate dean of Academic and Student Affairs at the University of
Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, has some advice for prospective students. "Learn
all you can about the veterinary profession," he says. "Attend the Open House coordinated
each April by veterinary students. And develop a strong relationship with your local
veterinarian, who can be your best ally in determining whether the veterinary profession is
the career for you.
"Also, study hard, especially science. Veterinary medicine is a rapidly advancing scientific
field. Your understanding of basic scientific principles will enhance your ability to gain
admission into our College. This knowledge will also strengthen your performance as a
veterinary student and as a practicing veterinarian or veterinary research scientist."
The examples of two current students interested in equine medicine at the College of
Veterinary Medicine, one of only 27 veterinary schools in the United States, illustrates how
two students made it into to the highly competitive four-year veterinary program.
Stephanie Crawford, originally from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, wants to pursue a career as
a mixed-animal practitioner with a focus on equine medicine and dentistry. Crawford
started showing horses at open shows in her hometown at the age of 5. She worked her
way up to being the stateﾒs top youth showman in 1987 and went on to win numerous state
and national awards in her show career. Veterinary medicine had an obvious appeal for
Crawford, who not only enjoys working with horses, but also enjoys science and enjoys
talking to people. To make herself a competitive applicant to veterinary school, Crawford
got more experience and didn’t give up.
"I worked for a year and a half at a small animal practice between undergrad and veterinary
school. Persistence!" says Crawford. "I didn’t get in the first time I applied, but I didn’t give
Carrie Boroughs, from Charleston, Illinois, loves the challenge of veterinary school and
loves that it is a diverse profession with many opportunities. Her grandparents were one of
the first people to start raising quarter horses in Southern Illinois. She competed with her
first horse, Popeye, at the Congress and at the American Junior Quarter Horse Association
World Show on the Illinois Youth Team. Boroughs would like to work in a predominantly
or exclusively equine practice, but she has not ruled out an internship or residency in equine
Application to veterinary school includes multiple essays, an experience history, and three
letters of reference, one of which must be from a veterinarian who can attest to the
studentﾒs character and experience in veterinary medicine. Approximately 1 out of 3 Illinois
applicants and 1 out of 7 non-resident applicants are invited to interview.
Crawford comments, "The interview process was stressful but enjoyable. I was very
nervous the first year I interviewed. The second year I interviewed it was much easier. I
was so much more relaxed."
Boroughs remembers the interview process as "not bad." She has some good advice. "Be
honest and confident in yourself, and don’t BS."
Crawford says that she had much anxiety waiting for the notification letter. Her second year
she was put on the alternate list, which, she says, brought even more anxiety. In July of
1997, Crawford received another notification from the University of Illinois. "Receiving my
acceptance letter was one of the happiest days of my life," she recalls.
Now successful third-year students, both Boroughs and Crawford continue to gain
experience with their favorite species. "I’m a student member of the American Association
of Equine Practitioners, a member on the emergency colic team, and a frequent volunteer in
equine ICU [intensive care]," says Crawford. Her favorite part of veterinary school is the
many friends she has made at the College. However, she still misses her horses and
"One of my show horses, Scratch, my Towhee, volunteers as a therapeutic riding horse and
my horse Meadowoods BoTie is basically a pasture ornament back home. After veterinary
school, I want to get back into showing again," says Crawford.
Boroughs says she is more fortunate because her horses are only 45 minutes away from the
veterinary school. She says her education has been a long haul, but worthwhile. "Science
and practicality are starting to come together. There is a light at the end of the tunnel now.
Eight years of school wasn’t for nothing!"
Boroughs will be among the many students working at the April 1 Open House at the
College. Open House is a great opportunity to explore the veterinary profession and
curriculum, and it’s free and open to the public! Through many hands-on exhibits and
demonstrations, the student-run Open House reveals the compassion of veterinary
medicine, the joy of working with animals, and the science and technology that goes into
improving animal health and production.
For more information on Open House or applying to veterinary school, visit the College
Web site at www.cvm.uiuc.edu/.
Original Article: http://www.cvm.uiuc.edu/petcolumns/showarticle.cfm?id=37