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.