Advancement

It Started With a Passion

February 20, 2018
Kaitlyn Imamura

During summer break last year, I was flipping through my elementary school yearbook when I opened the page to my kindergarten photo. Next to my name, I read in black print, “When I grow up, I want to be a veterinarian.” I looked up and thought how amazing it was that even at the age of five, I already knew what I would be doing for the rest of my life. Fast forward to February 2018, I am a California native completing my clinical and final year at the Ontario Veterinary College in Canada, just months away from graduation and starting my career.

Starting my dream in front of Ontario Veterinary College

In the spring of 2014, I woke up the entire neighborhood as I received my vet school acceptance letter realizing then and there that I would be moving out the country to pursue my dream. Emotions of excitement, fear, and determination rushed through my mind as the months came closer to starting in September. 

"Emotions of excitement, fear, and determination rushed through my mind as the months came closer to starting in September."

How will I handle being on my own? Will I make friends? How am I going to handle the winter? Of course many worries constantly rang in my mind, but I also could not be more ecstatic to begin somewhere entirely new and learn veterinary medicine.

I entered vet school feeling inspired by the fresh start. I signed up for on call shifts at the campus emergency animal hospital, obtained leadership positions for student clubs on campus, and even joined the intramural women’s hockey team. I thought vet school was a blast. 

When happens when the California girl experiences her first REAL winter.

Participating in extra-curricular activities during my first year allowed me to network with colleagues and gain early hands-on experience with all types of animals – horses, cats, dogs and even exotics. I loved every moment of vet school… until I started my second year. 

Going through the next two years of veterinary school was a marathon and a larger test on my passion. As the program became more demanding, I did not have as much time to participate in extra-curricular activities. Having exams every Monday and knowing in April of every year I had only two and a half weeks to complete 13 cumulative finals was a challenge for me. To keep up with the material, I attended about six hours of class each day and went home to study more. I felt my only breaks were bathing, going to the bathroom, and eating. How is that living? There were many moments that I would break down – the stress was too much and unhealthy. 

"There were many moments that I would break down – the stress was too much and unhealthy. If I could not even handle this, would I be able to be a sufficient veterinarian?"

If I could not even handle this, would I be able to be a sufficient veterinarian? Fortunately, I had a great support system of my family and friends to get me through the program when times were the toughest. They provided me with constant reminders as to why I was there in the first place, and that the stress was only temporary. And guess what? They were right.

Receiving my white coat for clinical year at the White Coat Ceremony with my parents.

Now in my final year and looking back at my journey, it’s been a long road I would absolutely not do again, but also one I did not have a single regret taking! Not only have I gained the knowledge that I have been able to put into practice during my rotations, but I have learned a few life lessons as well. As a Japanese American that was not the straight-A student in school nor the top of my graduating class, I have realized that GPAs and keeping my head in the books 24/7 will not make me a great veterinarian – my personal qualities will. 

"As a Japanese American that was not the straight-A student in school nor the top of my graduating class, I have realized that GPAs and keeping my head in the books 24/7 will not make me a great veterinarian – my personal qualities will."

Living in Canada for four years and endeavoring veterinary school has taught me that it takes a lot of determination, compassion, and endurance to fight for what you want. Any dream that you want to accomplish can happen as long as you are motivated and dedicated to succeed. 

Volunteering with the Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS) program in North Dakota.
"Any dream that you want to accomplish can happen as long as you are motivated and dedicated to succeed."

The journey may include blood, sweat, and tears along the way, but once you get to the end, you look back knowing it was all worth it. With your strong passion, you can also go anywhere and do anything

Kaitlyn Imamura

Kaitlyn Imamura is currently completing her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine degree at the Ontario Veterinary College in Canada. She plans to return back to California and practice in Redondo Beach at a companion animal clinic. In her free time, she loves a great food adventure and exploring the outdoors!