I know it helps to read a successful veterinary school applicant’s personal statement, so I am posting mine on this site.
*** Sharon now offers personal statement editing! ***
See Career Coaching for details:
Please do not attempt to copy or use this statement in any way, shape, or form — plagiarism is a serious issue and it is one way to make sure you never get into veterinary school.
Sharon Ostermann’s Personal Statement from VMCAS Application in 2008
Brakes screeched, tires squealed, and the car abruptly came to a halt. My heart was pounding. My father opened his door and, without hesitation, darted across the highway, dodging cars to rescue a defenseless turtle from the next car’s tire. Throughout my childhood in New York, rescuing turtles was a common practice for me and my father. Looking back, my father’s heroic sprints into oncoming traffic were not his most intelligent moves, but through them he communicated a very strong message – the value of an animal’s life. That message continues to motivate me today.
I have consistently devoted my life to giving animals another chance at theirs-be it rescuing turtles from roads, frogs from pools, or injured birds from dogs. Often I have been able to release the animals into their natural habitat; other times my efforts are too little, too late; and, occasionally, I end up raising an abandoned baby rabbit. My home has also been a refuge for rats, hamsters, birds, fish, turtles, and chinchillas, but never a dog and, until recently, never a cat. It almost goes without saying that my desire to care for animals led me to want to become a veterinarian, but the untraditional and circuitous path I have taken toward that goal is worthy of note.
A year ago a pre-vet student asked me a very frank question: “What’s stopping you?” At the time I was in graduate school, studying psychology, while concurrently running my own photography business. I did not have the time or money-much less courage-to change course. Yet, finding a deeper answer to her question became a driving force in my life. In time, I realized that animals have been the most important and most consistent facet of my life. So, what was keeping me from pursuing my dream? In the end, it was fear.
Fear of change kept me on an unfulfilling path where as courage, along with family support, freed me to pursue my dream. Realizing that a career in veterinary medicine best fit my values and lifestyle felt both liberating and daunting. While ready to change fields I faced intense coursework and the task of accumulating experience. Even so, without hesitation, I dove right in. With the support of Dr. ____ at the _____ Humane Society (_HS), I transitioned from helping hand at the _HS clinic to intern, a role requiring responsibility and participation in all situations, emergencies included. On my first day I helped treat the degloved leg of a dog that was hit by a car. And, by accepting all animals, _HS gives me experience in small animal, exotic, avian, and wildlife medicine. I love the challenges I face and my ability to learn quickly helps me to act competently in this setting. However, there are other aspects of veterinary work.
Since I knew my experience at _HS only gave me insight into one type of veterinary practice, I began volunteering at the ___ Zoo. There, I am involved in the health care and training of wild animals. Unlike _HS, where wildlife is given short-term care, rehabilitated and released, the zoo does not generally intend to release animals and, thus, invests in long-term care by way of regular health exams and medication. Facets of each of these environments attract me. I value the rehabilitative aspect of _HS, yet desire the rapport between animals and their caretakers that is achieved with long term care.
I also value community service on a global scale. Living in Ecuador and traveling abroad made me aware of the need for veterinary care in developing countries. To help fill this need, I will join a team to provide free veterinary care in Central America, where my Spanish language skills will be of use. I am excited for the opportunity to perform surgery and vaccinate under veterinary supervision and I am sure it will be the first of many trips of this nature for me. I can think of nothing more rewarding than putting my skills to work in the places that need my help most.
Ultimately, my journey makes me unique. Dabbling in other fields and work settings let me develop as an individual, reflect upon my decisions and finally choose veterinary medicine as a career. Through my indirect path, I gained a better understanding of myself, confidence in my chosen profession, and skills that may prove as valuable to a veterinarian as they are to a psychologist. In particular, the interpersonal skills that I have honed in the field of psychology will allow me to counsel and communicate with the owners of my future patients, an invaluable asset.
After many years, I am on track toward becoming a veterinarian. Experience has taught me that some things change and others do not, while that which remains the same defines us, drives us, and makes us who we are. Though I no longer live in New York, my father still rescues turtles; and my love and commitment to animals, which he inspired, remains intact. Whenever I see a turtle I smile as I am reminded of how I got to where I am today.