Archive | 6:29 PM

The Personal Statement

10 Mar

Yup, I’m going to do it. Against my better judgement.  So before the good stuff, you get to read some MAJOR disclaimers.  I will post my favorite personal statement that I submitted with my most recent vet school application.

First off, I was not accepted to school.  Take that as you will.  I was exceptionally happy with the way this essay turned out, but the admissions committee might have hated it.  I hope reading it over will give someone an idea of how these statements go, the way to utilize space, and mostly to step out of the box and dare to be different from everyone else.  If nothing else, you can see what you DON’T want to do in your personal statement.

Disclaimer 2:  I was afraid someone would plegerize my work, but honestly, I can’t use the thing so someone might as well be inspired by it (hopefully). If you’re lame enough to steal my idea or copy it word for word–well, you know what you did. You will someday fail at life when there is no one left to copy. Also, I hope whichever school or program you turn in it to is smart enough to Google it and gets connected right back to my blog.  But really, don’t be a ball-sack and steal the idea or content.

Disclaimer 3:  Writing these are difficult and time consuming.  I started out by brainstorming all the possible ways I could make such a formulaic, relatively short piece, both contain all the pertinent information, mention things I wanted the committee to know, and be a little unique.  Once I had my idea, I wrote the first draft pretty quickly.  Then the editing began.  I think I had at least 20 drafts–maybe more.  Everyone I KNEW read and made corrections and comments.  Every.  Word.  Counts in these things.  There is not one single word that wasn’t scrutinized for clarity, flow, and meaning both explicit and implicit.  Many thanks to my boss (especially!), my mom, who has always been a great personal editor, and Cool for helping me with some of the best revisions.  But thanks to assorted Facebook contacts as well for reading it over and helping me improve it.

So without further ado, here is my latest Veterinary School Application Personal Statement in all it’s glory:

Veterinary medicine attracts the type of person who loves bodily fluids. In my years of experience I have not yet encountered a veterinarian who does not take great satisfaction in draining an abscess and seeing copious amounts of pus.  In my daily duties as a veterinary assistant, I see urine, vomit, and blood and never think twice. Many times I am adorned by those substances, yet I find it amusing.  As I learned during my employment, in addition to loving disgusting things, maintaining good humor is imperative in the veterinary profession.


I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of veterinary medicine and I still want to engage in it.  One Christmas Day, and I counted 128 dogs and cats staying at the hospital where I worked for the long weekend.  Before I pushed the heavy swinging door open, I heard the cacophony of barking canines.  Once inside, the pungent aroma was evident.  As you can imagine, it did not smell like flowers in the kennel rooms.  As the dogs realized they were about to be momentarily freed, their decibel would intensify.  Flashes of brindle, wheaten, and merle three stories high Riverdanced a metallic jig, eager to escape their steel cages.


Stressed to be away from their owners, the animals would display negative behaviors. Since the pets did not always cooperate, maintaining their health and welfare required a degree of levity. As I hustled to walk, clean, feed, and medicate the patients, I would imagine what it would be like to be in their position.  I decided the best representation of me as a hospitalized animal would be the highly energetic and strong personality of a terrier.  Like the stubborn terrier that yanks on the leash, even after he has been corrected numerous times, my drive to enter the veterinary profession remains undeterred. As evidenced by my continuous animal experience, my ambition to become an animal doctor and own a veterinary hospital has never waned. Even when I have been issued corrections to “become a dentist” from practical pre-veterinary guest speakers, I continue to bound down the veterinary career path.


While in his kennel, a terrier might take his food, piece by piece, out of the bowl and rearrange it around the floor in an attempt to make the space more conducive to his needs.  Being surprised with an explosion of food bits when changing the harmless towel was a pain that required extra sweeping, but I could certainly empathize. If I were confined to a cubicle or a situation that stifled my desires, I too, would take steps to change my scenery.  In fact, growing up in a state without a veterinary college restricted my dream. I realize veterinary schools give preference to residents, so at that juncture I rearranged my life piece by piece and moved to Missouri to enter a strong Animal Science program and pursue residency in a state with its own veterinary college. Though relocating was a major adjustment and, at times, as messy as food confetti, I do not regret my decision. I gained agricultural experience and knowledge that was unavailable to me in my home state.


My trajectory toward veterinary school was not just shaped by moves halfway across the country.  I encountered resistance even when I received that coveted letter of acceptance to veterinary school.  The week before I was supposed to matriculate, my loan fell through and I had to drop my seat in the class.  It was devastating, and I had to mindfully conjure a terrier whose spirit is difficult to break.  I thought of my favorite terrier who hated his complimentary baths and would miserably shake off the water the entire time, but would regain his characteristic zeal immediately after he was dry.  I vowed to gather up my resolve and “shake it off” as well.  Back at square one, I had the opportunity to move to any state with a veterinary program to pursue my goal. In the same way I chose Missouri for its agricultural advantages, I picked Washington State due to the excellent reputation of its veterinary program.


My musings of being a terrier aside, it was satisfying to leave the once complaining pets in the kennel rooms happy and treated.  If the job had started out simple, without mess or struggle, the end gratification would have been substantially smaller.  Analogous is my journey to veterinary medicine–acceptance to veterinary school in particular. At times, the task feels monumental, the road to success convoluted and bleak. I am persevering, realizing my dream of entering into private practice in a rural setting will bring the utmost satisfaction.


My prolonged journey allowed me to amass technical skills, garner coping mechanisms, and observe veterinarians in an array of practices in diverse regions. If I had been easily accepted into a program on my first attempt, I might not appreciate the career this much. It is not in spite of my long struggle that I am currently applying to veterinary school in Washington; it is because of the struggle I know I belong here.