- Last Updated on Thursday, 16 May 2013 16:32
“There are many local attractions that I try to enjoy at least once per semester, including the Cayman Turtle Farm, Dolphin Discovery, the botanical gardens, the shops in George Town and the endless miles of white sandy beaches.”
Veterinary Focus: I am interested in small animal veterinary medicine and companion exotics. I would also like to consider board certification for orthopedics.
Academic background: I graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee in May 2008 with a Bachelors of Science, majoring in biology. Outside of my veterinary degree, I am concurrently enrolled in the online MBA - with a concentration in Health Care Management program, for which I take one 7 week course each semester.
Animal Experience: I've worked in a small animal practice for 6 years; I have a little large animal experience-mostly just dairy cows; I worked in an immunology research lab for 3 years while in my undergrad; I interned/volunteered at a zoo working with seals and sea lions for 4 years
Pets: I have a 5 year old female Lhasa Apso and a 2 year old male German Shepherd.
5 Year Plan: After graduating from veterinary school I plan to work for my long time small animal veterinarian back home and eventually purchase the practice from the owner.
Hobbies: I love to spend time with my family and friends, especially now that I only see them for a few weeks at a time. I also like to run, either at the gym or on the beach!
What do you like to do when you are not studying? Life on the island is peaceful. During my downtime I love to walk the beach either with some friends or with "Snoopy", my weekend foster dog. There are many local hangouts for students where we like to relax and grab a bite to eat and the occasional umbrella drink! There are many local attractions that I try to enjoy at least once per semester, including the Cayman Turtle Farm, Dolphin Discovery, the botanical gardens, the shops in George Town and the endless miles of white sandy beaches.
“Coming in as a transfer student, you always wonder how well you will be received by others and how you will fit in, but it was not a problem. In fact I was welcomed by all and it made moving to the island more pleasurable.”
I came to St. Matthew’s University as a transfer student and the transition was a pretty smooth one. The staff at the Orlando office was great and they helped make my transition as painless as possible. Coming in as a transfer student, you always wonder how well you will be received by others and how you will fit in, but it was not a problem. In fact I was welcomed by all and it made moving to the island more pleasurable. One of the most appealing aspects for choosing SMU is the small student to faculty ratio. This was an important criterion for me because it allows you to know the professors and the professors to know you, which is exactly the case when I came to Grand Cayman. The faculty is great also in that they all have an open door policy and are easily approachable and want to see the students succeed. Another deciding factor is the accelerated curriculum. Plus you can’t beat being on a beautiful island and the warm weather!
Coming from a family of medical doctors, I’ve always enjoyed medicine and taking care of others. It wasn’t until I had my first pet that I knew veterinary medicine was the field for me. I worked as a vet tech for a few years in both private practices and emergency medicine, which were great experiences because it only solidified the fact that I wanted to pursue a career as a veterinarian. I love being the voice for the animals and educating the clients on how to care for their furry companions. My interest in veterinary medicine is geared towards Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation and Nutrition.
I already had a friend on the island that showed me the ways around the island and helped to make my transition as smooth as possible. That was extremely helpful since I was leaving my husband and three dogs back home. The students and faculty also helped to make the transition an easy one especially through their Veterinary Leadership Experience (VLE) program. Everyone is like family and for the remainder of my time here, this is my home away from home.
With SMU still being a young school, there is much potential for growth and many opportunities available for the students, such as various wet labs held by the student clubs and involvement with Marvet during the summer. We get visiting professors with exceptional credentials to come and teach certain classes. We also have faculty that are well-knowledgeable in their fields. My involvement at SMU includes being the SAAVMA (Student Association of the Veterinary Medical Association) Social Chair, President of ZEW (Zoological, Exotics, and Wildlife) Medicine Club, Treasurer of Animal Nutrition Club, Secretary of CRRC (Coral Reef Research Club), and Secretary of Behavior Medicine Club. I also assist with VLE during orientation as well as being a TA/Tutor. In my spare time, I love to go to the beach, go diving, play all types of sports, workout, hang with friends and just have a good time and enjoy life!
Sometimes a life's passion is found in the least likely of places - like under a porch.
That is where Stefanie Sullivan found an abandoned dog that she brought home. During the two weeks that Stefanie spent convincing her mother to allow her to keep the dog, the local veterinarian provided services and care to the dog for free. It was during this time that Stefanie witnessed the compassion it takes to care for animals. She knew then that she wanted to align herself to this passion and help other people and other pets.
Stefanie began to pursue this passion working with veterinarians as a vet technician in her home town of Chattanooga, TN. The other veterinarians encouraged her to continue her education and earn her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. After applying for about two years, Stefanie received a letter from St. Matthew's University announcing their new program.
"I was thrilled to be accepted," she says.
While it has been difficult for Stefanie to be away from her fiancee, who is studying to be a nurse, and her brother, who is serving in Iraq, Stefanie is able to keep in touch with them by phone and Internet and goes home to Tennessee whenever she can.
Stefanie and her classmates are very excited about St. Matthew's new Vet Surgical facility. While at school, she has had exposure to many animals, including horses. While she was "a little afraid" of the larger creatures at first, Stefanie thanks her expert teachers and fellow students for helping her to get through an Equine Practical and to become more comfortable dealing with large animals.
As she prepares for her fourth-year clinicals, Stefanie is deciding where to pursue them. "Being able to select Purdue or the University of Illinois is a real benefit to me," she says, noting how these two schools are known for their ICU clinicals. "If I had gone to a U.S. school that didn't have this focus, I would have been stuck. I need to be where I get to think on my toes!"
“I felt at home on the island, and it was nice to apply to a school that wanted my application, not just my application fee.”
There is no vet school in my home state (NV) so I knew I had to move a good distance no matter what, which freed me to look at foreign schools. As a non-traditional student, I felt I could be at a disadvantage with the VMCAS system, and frankly it seems long, drawn out, and expensive, with little chance of success. If you have to complete 2 cycles, by the time you begin school you could be almost done with basic science at SMU. I had always wanted to study abroad but it hadn't worked out in my undergraduate career, and this felt like a second chance. How many of those do we get in life? I came down to visit the island and tour the school and I was reassured by my visit. I felt at home on the island, and it was nice to apply to a school that wanted my application, not just my application fee. If I were going to pay out of state tuition anyway and move far away, I wanted to make it as much of an experience as possible rather than "just" school.
For a long time I thought I wanted to be a human physician but I knew something about that didn't quite fit. So I hesitated, entering and staying in the workforce for a few extra years rather than going to graduate or professional school while I tried to figure it out. Once it dawned on me that what I wanted was to be an animal doctor it all clicked into place. It sounds a bit cliché after the fact, but it really was a eureka moment for me. I had the medicine part right but had been focusing on the wrong animal(s). Once I knew what I wanted I wasted no time in going back to school to complete the prerequisites and put in my application.
The school is still working out some of the kinks as it grows but I accepted that that might happen when I applied. The small class size is wonderful in that we get to know all of our instructors. Dean Wagner knows almost all of us by name, and not in a bad way! We have a nice diverse group of students from all over North America, and we're able to study with visiting instructors who are prominent in their fields. We would prefer to have more resident faculty, since the block schedule of visiting instructors is mentally and physically taxing, but in the meantime we enjoy the exposure. I love being on the island and living close to the beach - I get to go diving, and often I'll take my notes out to the beach and study by the water.
I was asked by Dr. Shields, Co-leader of the MarVet program and Assistant Professor of Veterinary Medicine, to assist with our version of the VLE (veterinary leadership experience, pioneered at WSU) when we first incorporated that into our orientation here at SMU. I was surprised and honored to be asked, and I've been helping with orientation ever since. I enjoy being able to meet the incoming students and hopefully help them feel more comfortable as they settle in. I was also selected as one of SMU's representatives to attend the official 2009 AVMA VLE, so I'm very excited about that. I served on student government for 2 semesters as my class representative, and I am involved in the Behavior Medicine club, Food Animal Medicine club, ZEW Exotics and Wildlife club (I am the current secretary), and I am the vice president of our student AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) club. I am also a tutor for 2 classes.