Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Caribbean doctorate.

I've titled this blog "My DVM Vacation" because that's what the majority of my friends and family seem to think I'm doing. "Oh, you're so lucky! I'm so jealous!" They seem to have forgotten that at the end of this little tropical retreat I'll be coming back with much more than a tan. I will also be walking away with a professional degree and people will call me doctor.

But I am lucky. I'm being given a chance to obtain a goal of mine that a year ago seemed impossible due to grades that were nearly a decade old preventing me from pursuing my education stateside. Imagine finding out that after seven years of hard work - going back to community college at twenty to drag my GPA out of the gutter after failing out of my first college attempt when I was eighteen, starting all over again from a liberal arts major to animal science and biology, and taking every job no matter how disgusting, exhausting or emotionally draining in order to catch up to my peers in terms of animal experience - that at nearly thirty I was being held responsible for the academic folly of my 18-year-old self.

I spent some time weltering in my own personal cocktail of self-pity and bitterness, and then I began looking at other options; among them the Caribbean vet schools. These were the schools that as an undergrad you always heard referred to in hushed tones. "Oh, those schools." It was generally understood that only people who weren't good enough to get into the "right" vet schools went to those schools. Well damn it, I had worked hard to earn my chance to study for my DVM, a chance that was now being denied to me by the "right" schools because of an unfair and extremely pretentious technicality.

Many people tried to warn me away from pursuing this option.

"It's too dangerous! Stay in white, American suburbia where you're safe!"

"It's too expensive! You'll cripple yourself with debt!"

I researched for months, reading through university websites, talking to students and alumni, browsing online forums, attending information seminars and even reading through the police blotters for the area. In the end, I was convinced. Not only was the academic program rigorous and very promising, but the cost was on par with attending any college in the U.S. as an out-of-state student. The crime issue appeared to be exaggerated with the most common offense against foreign students being theft of their iPods.

My mind was made up. I applied to Ross University on the island of St. Kitts in February of 2010. I had my interview in May of that same year and was granted admission in July. Now it's December, and my last three months stateside have been a whirlwind of vaccinations, health checks, and obtaining a criminal history background check, passport and other documents necessary for my student visa. On December 30th I'll leave my friends, family and husband to study for the next two and a half years on an island where the annual temperature rarely drops below 80 degrees, the ocean is a stone's throw from campus and monkeys sit at the bar with you to share your daiquiri.

Hey, it could be worse.

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