Name: Devon K. Mims | Hometown: Bronx, New York
Undergrad: UF | Major: Zoology
Veterinary Goal: Primary care service at an academic institution
Special Skills: Longboarding, singing in the shower, making Excel spreadsheets, inappropriately confident karaoke
Fun Fact: A major fraction of my ethnic make-up is Taino, i.e., indigenous Puerto Rican.
Favorite Undergrad Course: Theory and Practice in the Biological Sciences
Hardest Undergrad Course: I was not an organic chemistry person. The main pieces of advice I could offer are to 1) make use of whatever resources you find useful (whether it be free or paid study services, teaching assistants, office hours, friends who are spatial thinkers, etc.) and 2) above all, remember that "poor performance" (recognizing that the definition of that is extremely subjective and socially inflated) in a single course is not going to make or break your worthiness of attending vet school.
Recommended Undergrad Course: Biological ethics, animal ethics, and comparative psychology.
Best Vet School Prep: Experiences that offered close interaction with like-minded students and future mentors. E.g., a UF in Belize study abroad program sponsored by the UFCVM Zoological Medicine service and a "supplementary" animal ethics course led by a faculty member at the UFCVM Integrative Medicine service.
Undergrad Extracurricular Activities: Research (completed honors thesis), worked as a small animal OR tech, ASL & Deaf Culture club member, Honors First-Generation Students club, Honors Ambassadors, Pride Student Union, North Central Florida Signing Alliance
Letters of Rec Strategy: Rather than seeking out "good letters", I sought to make relationships with individuals who seemed genuinely interested in my development as a student and future peer. I knew that the best letter-writers and mentors would be those who knew me and my work best, regardless of how "esteemed" those individuals might come off to a selection committee.
Interview Prep Advice: I did not do too much "rehearsal" or mock interviews prior to my interview; although I know those options are very useful to some applicants, I knew those tactics would only contribute to my anxiety. For my preparations, I focused on understanding myself, my motivations, and how I saw myself fitting into the environment of that specific veterinary school. Practically speaking, in the days before an interview I would often review my application materials, review the website/offerings/mission statements of the college, and make sure I was up to date on "big ticket" ethical discussions in our field.
Interview Advice: Bring a bottle of water and do not be afraid to drink it during your interview! Give yourself time, whenever necessary, to gather your thoughts or untwist your tongue. Your interviewers will not fault you for taking a moment to really consider the questions they are asking you, especially if they are complex questions.
Describe Life in Veterinary School: In one word: challenging! Veterinary school is its own full-time commitment - school can and will eat up large fractions of your time inside and outside of the classroom. It is essentially a 9-5 job that follows you home (+ any extracurricular commitments you take on). No matter how you do it, what is most important is to find your own sense of balance! Being in vet school means you will spend a significant amount of your time training for your future, but it does not mean you cannot: go see a movie, go for a run with your dog, play tennis with classmates, spend a night (or two) out on the town, binge a Netflix series, sit on the couch and eat a pint of ice cream, etc.
What You Wish You Had Known Before Starting Vet School: I wish I had known that I was just as deserving of my seat as anyone else in my class.
Name: Alexis Deriberprey | Hometown: Queens, New York
Undergrad: University of Florida | Major: Biology
Veterinary Goal: Small animal general practice with integrative medicine
Special Skills: Sculpting, tennis, drawing
Fun Fact: I was hired into a vet clinic at the age of 15.
Favorite Undergrad Course: "Plants, Gardening and You" & Biology
Hardest Undergrad Course: Chemistry and Biochemistry
Best Vet School Prep: Working while in undergrad.
Undergrad Extracurricular Activities: Volunteer at many diverse veterinary hospitals,employee at American Eagle, Pre-Vet Club, Minority Pre-Vet Club, tennis coach, undergrad research.
Letters of Rec Strategy: Identify possible/good mentors to ask. Work towards developing a relationship with them so they can give you an honest LOR. Ask very early in advance. I asked the vet I worked for, my research vet, receptionist who worked with me, and my boss from American eagle. I felt like having veterinarians write a LOR was just as important has having LOR’s from “supporting staff” and non-veterinarian roles.
Interview Prep Advice: Mock interviews with anyone who will listen. I also prepared my answers to common questions and controversial topics in the mirror to better understand my body language and facial expressions while answering questions.
Interview Advice: Take a deep breath.
Describe Life in Veterinary School: Chaos and amazing at the same time. It’s amazing how much you learn in such a short amount of time and so rapidly.
What You Wish You Had Known Before Starting Vet School: How to meal prep.
Name: David Massre |Hometown: Cooper City, Florida
Undergrad: University of Florida | Major: Zoology
Veterinary Goal: Small Animal Emergency Medicine
Special Skills: I spent a lot of time in my undergraduate working in design.
Fun Fact: My favorite movie is Jurassic Park.
Favorite Undergrad Course: Organic Chemistry
Hardest Undergrad Course: Physics. Do not hesitate in asking for help. Utilize your TA’s office hours as well as your professor’s. Also, there are a ton of resources online that can help you with the conceptual parts of it.
Recommended Undergrad Courses: Comparative Vertebrae Anatomy & Physiology.
Best Vet School Prep: I believe everyone should take a gap year. It is a time where you get to figure out what you really want from life and gain valuable veterinary experience in a full-time capacity.
Undergrad Extracurricular Activities: Research assistant, small animal hospital volunteer, Surf Club, Pre-Health Society, Organic Chemistry and Anatomy TA and veterinary technician.
Letters of Rec Strategy: When selecting who to write your letters, make sure they know you on a personal level. A good letter doesn’t just say that you got an A in the class and move on. It attests to your personality and your ability to thrive in veterinary school. For professors, I went about this by being a TA for the classes that interested me the most.
Interview Prep Advice: I practiced with as many people as I could find!
Interview Advice?: When answering questions, ensure that you backup every claim you make with an example. For instance, if you asked what role you take in a group and respond with “leader”, follow up with an anecdote about a time you acted as one.
Describe Life in Veterinary School: It is an amazing experience all together, but in the beginning it can feel overwhelming. Just remember, everyone else is feeling the same way as you and you will all get through it. I try not to let the academic side of it consume me, because having a balance is necessary if you want to succeed. There are a ton of opportunities that the clubs and organizations offer that are the highlight of veterinary school.
What You Wish You Had Known Before Starting Vet School: There are so many opportunities available to you. Try not to go into it with your mind made up about what your future looks like. You may find yourself passionate about something you hadn’t even thought of yet.
Name: Alexandra Villa | Hometown: Miami, FL
Undergrad: UF | Major: Animal Science
Veterinary Goal: Small animal general practitioner.
Special Skills: Cooking, working out, dancing.
Fun Fact: I love dairy cows! Was going to be a dairy vet up until 2nd year.
Favorite Undergrad Course: Organic Chemistry
Hardest Undergrad Course: Physics 1 and 2- don’t get discouraged, do what you need to do to pass and move forward!
Best Vet School Prep: Block and Bridle and Dairy Science Club both gave me experiences that put me outside of my comfort zone. I grew so much in many aspects with these clubs by participating in conferences, competitions, and serving in officer positions.
Undergrad Extracurricular Activities: VP, Treasurer in Block and Bridle, Treasurer in Dairy Science Club, American Dairy Science Association Regional first place winner for my meta-analysis presentation on how heat stress affects reproduction in dairy cows, Dairy Challenge Regional first place winner, vet tech and volunteer vet assistant.
Interview Prep Advice: Before my first interview, I practiced with my husband, my dad, and my sister. I had them ask me whatever common questions they could find. Also, I practiced in the shower and in front of the mirror.
Interview Advice: Just be yourself! Don’t try to think about what you think the panel would like to hear. Be true to yourself and think about honest answers that show your personality.
Describe Life in Veterinary School: Balance. It’s the most important thing about life in vet school. Work hard but also enjoy yourself, exercise and practice mental health.
What You Wish You Had Known Before Starting Vet School: It goes by very very fast!! Even in hard times, you’re having fun (trust me you’ll realize it later).
Name: Eric Alexopoulos | Hometown: Chicopee, MA
Undergrad: University of Massachusetts | Major: Finance
Veterinary Goal: Small Animal Specialist
Special Skills: Brewing craft beer
Fun Fact: I don't have a sense of smell
Favorite Undergrad Course: Business Law
Hardest Undergrad Course: Organic chemistry; just put in the work.
Recommended Undergrad Course: Any class on a topic you know nothing about that will take a lot of work to learn, all of vet school is learning topics you have never been exposed to.
Best Vet School Prep: Shadowing veterinarians
Undergrad Extracurricular Activities: Animal shelter and animal hospital volunteer, veterinary technician.
Letters of Rec Strategy: I built professional relationships with professors and vets I worked under. Always ask in person if possible and make sure you word it like, "would you feel comfortable writing me a strong letter of rec?" That way they have an out if they can't, you really don't want their letter if they aren't going to make you sound wonderful.
Interview Prep Advice: Read through everything on their website, take notes and make sure you have well thought out questions to ask them.
Interview Advice?: Practice as much as possible.
Describe Life in Veterinary School: It is a lot of work, the courses move fast and you have to keep up. That being said, there is still plenty of time for yourself before you get onto clinics. Once you are on clinics you really don't have a life, so be prepared. It is stressful, be prepared.
What you wish you had known before starting vet school: You don't get to escape people in veterinary medicine, your communications skills with clients are almost more important than how good of a doctor you are.
Name: Sharonda Washington | Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
Undergrad: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University | Major: Animal Science
Veterinary Goal: I would love to be the veterinarian that inspires the next generation of black kids that they belong in this field.
Fun Fact: I was born in Panama.
Favorite Undergrad Course: Human anatomy
Hardest Undergrad Course: Organic Chemistry 1 and 2. Maintaining a positive outlook is what carried me through the course. Along with being positive I was able to to tutoring without feeling defeated. Not only did I seek out tutoring but I would go to the teacher and ask for help. Understanding how to the teacher arrived to answers really helped me understand her test questions.
Recommended Undergrad Courses: Any animal science class.
Best Vet School Prep: Working on FAMU’s farm holds some of my favorite memories from undergrad. It was my first time getting hands on experience, and working one on one with great veterinary professionals. Working on the farm was so peaceful for me that it allowed me to take in information and experience without feeling anxious that I had to know everything. When I have anxious moments in school I often reflect back to that time to remember that I am still learning, and that is okay.
Undergrad Extracurricular Activities: Big Sister/Little Sister, dance group, Newk’s Eatery employee, Krispy Krunchy Chicken employee, farm intern, and kennel technician.
Letters of Rec Strategy: I asked two of my science teachers who knew me from their office hours. I made sure to ask teachers who knew me personally and my work ethic. I also asked Dr. Wright, the coordinator for the internship at the farm; he was able to watch my growth in undergrad and write a great letter.
Interview Prep Advice: I did a mock interview with Tuskegee when they came to talk to us at FAMU. I felt very confident in my interview skills, and that was the only mock interview I did. While working during my gap year I had the doctors that I worked with ask me questions randomly through the day. I also looked up current events that were relevant to veterinary medicine.
Interview Advice?: On the car ride over to the school I felt myself getting nervous. Before I let the nerves take over I had a dance party in the car. Do something to ease your nerves before you walk in, remember this is supposed to be a good experience.
Describe Life in Veterinary School: Think of veterinary school like getting a stack of pancakes everyday, and you have to eat them. If you don’t they transfer over to the next day, along with a fresh stack of pancakes.
What You Wish You Had Known Before Starting Vet School: I wish that doctors had told me that veterinary school would challenge me mentally. I was not prepared to go through depression, nor did I know how to deal with it. But the silver lining is that I am walking out stronger than I thought I could be.
Name: Ashliegh Alfonso | Hometown: Coconut Creek, Fl
Undergrad: Broward College and Florida Atlantic University | Major: Biology
Veterinary Goal: Small Animal/Domestic Exotics
Special Skills: Drawing, Cooking, and Netflix binging
Fun Fact: I have a black belt in Shotokan karate.
Favorite Undergrad Course: Comparative animal physiology
Hardest Undergrad Course: Biochemistry. My advice is to watch fun Youtube videos that explain the material so you understand the big picture of the processes. Memorizing small details is important, but it shouldn’t be your only method.
Recommended Undergrad Courses: Comparative Animal Physiology
Best Vet School Prep: My senior year I was balancing work as a tutor while doing undergraduate research with a 14 credit semester. It really forced me to develop better time-management skills.
Undergrad Extracurricular Activities: Research assitant, retail employee, organic chemistry and independent private tutor, wildlife center employee, receptionist/technician at a small animal practice, cymbal-line captain of a drum corps, drilling/marching team, piano player, praise team singer,church volunteer, martial arts, nature center volunteer and local stable volunteer.
Letters of Rec Strategy: Mainly through employment but being a hard worker, keeping a positive attitude, and forming intentional relationships with those I worked with played a big part. Working for the school made my academic letters very easy to acquire. Working at a small animal clinic and local wildlife center got me my veterinary letters.
Interview Prep Advice: Student Doctor Network has an amazing resource where students post what they were asked in their interviews. I took those, along with other commonly asked interview questions, and wrote out answers to keep my thoughts organized.
Interview Advice?: A fun piece of advice I got a few years ago was to bring a resume portfolio and write down questions you want to ask at the end of the interview ahead of time.
Describe Life in Veterinary School: Life in veterinary school is amazing, you get to be a part of a community of people who share similar passions and interest as yourself. The academics and parking can definitely be a challenge sometimes, but overall this experience has been so fulfilling. There are so many times I find myself saying, “Wow, I can’t believe I get to experience/learn this.”
What You Wish You Had Known Before Starting Vet School: Before starting vet school I struggled heavily with imposter syndrome and spent a lot of my summer being stressed out. Later on, I read this quote/mantra that said, “If you were not capable of handling it, the opportunity would not have presented itself.” I really wish I had adopted that mentality beforehand but it’s definitely been serving me well throughout my time here.
Name: Dayne Ferrera | Hometown: Miami
Undergrad: FIU | Major: Biology
Veterinary Goal: Small animal practice owner
Special Skills: Planning vacations on a budget.
Fun Fact: My biggest fear before starting vet school was that I wasn’t going to have time to exercise daily and that I was going to feel unhealthy and relapse to an eating disorder. It actually turned out that in my 2nd year and I’m now in the best shape and health I’ve ever been.
Favorite Undergrad Course: Animal Behavior
Hardest Undergrad Course: Organic Chemistry. Start studying day 1. Also, not a huge deal if you don’t do great I got a C in Orgo 1 and a B in Orgo 2 and still made it into vet school.
Best Vet School Prep: Working full time as a vet tech while being a full time student all throughout undergrad. Really learned time management and cramming during this.
Undergrad Extracurricular Activities: Karate competitor and instructor, Miami Zoo volunteer and studied abroad in South Africa.
Recommended Undergrad Course: I really wish I would’ve taken some sort of anatomy.
Letters of Rec Strategy: One of my letters was from one of the doctors that I worked with. He worked with me for 4 years and was a UF grad I really involved him in my whole application process asking for advice throughout the way. My most substantial letter was from my study abroad professor. She spent a month with me in South Africa, living with me and 11 other students. During this time she really got to know me in a personal level more than just about my intellect, I think that’s what made her recommendation letter so good.
Interview Advice?: Be yourself, if you’re someone that likes speaking to people just think of it as a conversation and let it flow as calmly as possible.
Describe Life in Veterinary School: You intake a ton of information and think that you can’t possibly retain it all and you feel really dumb when you’re studying. Then all of a sudden you’re studying something or talking about a case and realize that you actually know a lot more than you thought you did and that you might actually be a good veterinarian one day, and that particular moment gives you enough motivation to keep chugging along.
What You Wish You Had Known Before Starting Vet School: It gets easier.
Name: Tyler Charbonneau | Hometown: Sanford, FL
Undergrad: Florida State University | Major: Biology
Veterinary Goal: Dermatologist
Special Skills: Left handed writer that does everything else as a righty
Fun Fact: I have many tattoos ranging in size from a few words to a family tree on my back and shoulder
Favorite Undergrad Course: Race and Ethnicity in the U.S.
Hardest Undergrad Course: Organic chemistry, seek tutoring help EARLY
Recommended Undergrad Courses: Comparative anatomy, biochemistry, animal science, animal nutrition.
Undergrad Extracurricular Activities: Crossfit, scuba diving, co-rec soccer league, immunology research, ICU nurse in a small animal hospital.
Letters of Rec Strategy: I showed an immense amount of motivation and thirst for learning every time I stepped foot into the animal hospital. I would ask as many questions as possible and ask for places I could read more about topics and diseases. I never formally asked for mentors, but the dermatologist and the surgeon I worked with really grew into huge role models and beacons of inspiration for myself. I feel that my mentors were a huge reason I was accepted into veterinary school.
Interview Prep Advice: I sought out mock interviews from my undergraduate university as well as my mentors. Before the mock interviews, I would search on the internet for common interview questions and type up answers to them. Most importantly, after you have typed up answers to common questions, you should practice answering them in a mirror.
Interview Advice?: Stay calm, take a few seconds to organize your answer before speaking, and then speak slowly and clearly.
Describe life in veterinary school: Very fast paced with an unfathomable amount of information. Stay on top of studying and attending class, don’t fall behind.
What You Wish You Had Known Before Starting Vet School: The study techniques I developed in undergrad were not sufficient enough for the amount of information we are presented in veterinary school.