Continuing with our fall group of featured veterinary students, we head for Columbus and The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. That’s where you’ll find Jorge Mendoza, class of 2022. Jorge was chosen by Nationwide field veterinarian Dr. Jack Perkins.
Will you please share something unexpected you discovered on your path to veterinary medicine?
Growing up, I always envisioned myself becoming a doctor. Not only because science and medicine was interesting, but also because I wanted to make a difference in my community (Garden City, KS) by becoming an example to the next generation of Hispanic and first-generation students. I also wanted to repay my parents for their hard work for putting me in a position to achieve the opportunities they did not have growing up. In high school and undergrad, I was fixated on becoming an optometrist as they have flexible hours, get paid well, and can donate money to their community. However, during my undergrad I discovered that a person can make a living by conducting research in evolution, wildlife and conservation. My amazing undergrad mentors (Dr. Brett Sandercock and Anita Cortez) supported me and I pursued graduate school.
It was during my master’s at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working with two- and three-toed sloths, and phenomenal veterinarian colleagues (Dr. Kurt Sludky and Dr. Dominique Keller) that I realized the veterinary profession allows you to do anything that you want to do (research, teach, clinics, policy). Before embarking into veterinary school, I wanted to make a difference in my community and in education. In Garden City, I worked for Communities In Schools and helped high schools students graduate and attend college. At The Ohio State University, I was hired to managed the STEM EE Scholars to help high ability students achieve, adapt, and explore the opportunities that OSU has to offer.
I attended veterinary school with the mindset that I was going to become a zoological veterinarian. However, within my first year and through opportunities such as the Stanton Program Summer Externship I was able to see that I am the happiest working with small animals and exotics and interacting with the pet parents. I also truly enjoy working with phenomenal doctors and nurses who help you become a better doctor in training. Lastly, I have also discovered a fascination for learning the ways for clients to enjoy their veterinary visit. When I graduate, I hope to have ideas that will help expand the clinic I end up joining.
What is your vision for the future of veterinary medicine, and how does it influence the way you’re preparing?
I think we have seen for years that people are waiting longer to have kids, and instead they adopt a pet. Also, we are opting to have fewer kids and more pets. I believe this trend is going to continue. Even though there is a ton of information online, not all of those sources can be trusted. I believe it is the veterinarian’s job to provide those educational resources such as puppy/kitty kindergarten classes and behavior modification consults. During vet school, I have shadowed and taken animal behavioral classes (puppy kindergarten) to help my future clients. Additionally, I believe communication skills will become extremely important not only to create a rapport with clients, but to teach and entertain our clients. Lastly, I believe that the veterinary profession will continue to diversify, at a faster rate than what it is now. This will be a win-win situation for clinics and clients. We need veterinarians who can relate and communicate with their clients. When I graduate, I want to be able to help English and Spanish speakers! For Spanish speakers, I would like to help them with their concerns for their pet without the need of a translator (oftentimes their kids).
Will you tell us something about yourself that would surprise your colleagues?
After my masters, I was invited to be the keynote speaker for conferences, schools, and high school graduation commencement ceremonies. It is a great job for me to share my career experiences with high school and college students. Additionally, I believe I have been one of the few students at Kansas State University (alma mater) who have received the Distinguished Undergraduate Student in Research Award, and the Distinguish Young Alumni Award.
Thank you, Jorge and Dr. Perkins!