I’m that kid who said he wanted to be a vet in kindergarten and never grew out of it.
Though my target remained unchanged, my reasoning evolved. Four-year-old me wanted to be a "betterinarian" so I could play with animals all day. I later developed a love for science that deepened my interest in the profession, and then a passion for social engagement that broadened it. I was certain that I'd change the world, and I was committed to enjoying the process. When it came time to apply for veterinary school, nineteen-year-old me wrote a personal statement called Veni Vidi Subrisi (I came, I saw, I smiled). It read, in part,
If I can’t smile while I do it, then it isn’t worth doing. Some dismiss this attitude as naïve optimism, but I plan to die thinking this thought: that I lived in such a way that I was pleased with every moment, for one reason or another. To this end, three things remain central in my life because they bring me the most joy: people, animals, and education.
It was tough getting here. Single mother, abusive father, disabled brother, childhood home destroyed by fire, living below the poverty line, highly competitive career choice. But it is a choice - the absolute right choice for me. Six years into living my dream, I find myself taking stock. Am I remaining true to my passion? Am I growing my commitment to people, animals, and education? Can I look at my work and smile?
If I’m honest, not entirely. I’ve moved through the reaping-the-fruits-of-my-labor phase and coasted into stagnation. I dig what I do, but there’s more to be done - hence, the words you’re reading. DerekTheVet is a personal and professional branch point. It’s a new opportunity for me to put my sociology and veterinary backgrounds to work and grow through people, animals, and education. Having deepened my impact through clinical practice, my next goal is to broaden it through social engagement. I’m excited to see where this goes. Thank you for coming along with me.