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The Challenges of Becoming a Vet and Following Your Dream – by Stephanie Oliphant

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Stephanie Oliphant with a dog Becoming a veterinarian is often a dream that crosses the minds of many little girls as children’s until they decide they want to become something else. When I was 8 this career path crossed my mind and it stuck, before that I wanted to be a Lawyer, but since that day I have wanted nothing more than to become a Vet and help animals. For many students the pathway to becoming a Veterinarian is easy; go to high school, get good marks, go to university, graduate. However, for myself and others it is not that simple, some take years to get in doing degrees beforehand, others decide later in life to follow their long-forgotten dream. For me it took me 5 years and 1.5 degrees before I was finally accepted into Vet School.

Following your dream is not always easy and I want to tell you to not give up no matter how much you think the odds are against you. This is my story and how when I faced a lot and had a lot against me I still achieved my dream.

Stephanie Oliphant wildlifeI grew up in Greater Western Sydney, in an area just down the road from where places that you would often see on the news. Attending a public high school, I studied my butt off for the higher school certificate (HSC), and after two years and getting a HD average, I was left with a 54 ATAR, nothing to do with me, but all due to the area I came from and the scaling system that is run in regards to the HSC. Due to this grade I was devasted, I knew I would not get accepted into Vet School at the University of Sydney which required a 98 ATAR, and I would not even be accepted into university doing Zoology or Animal Science at Western Sydney University. I was however accepted into The College of Western Sydney University, a pathway course, I did a year in a Diploma of Science graduated and went straight into second year of Zoology at university. It is due to this course that I am where I am today. I then studied for another 3 years and graduated from Zoology in 2016, where I once again applied for veterinarian bioscience, and was once again not accepted, I was however accepted into the Bachelor of Animal and Veterinarian Bioscience at USYD, which is just animal science which just throws in the word ‘Vet’ to get more students to enrol and try to transfer in (in my biased opinion).

Stephanie Oliphant examination It was last year, 2017, that I made my last stand, to show how determined I was to get into Veterinarian Science, while studying at the University of Sydney I had to wake up at 5am every day to get to University by 9am, I studied full time 5 days a week, worked part time at a farm, and I did over 100 days of volunteer and work experience in the animal industry, with vets, fox rescues, dingo rescues, entomology, equine and wildlife, leaving myself with one day off a fortnight. I know it may sound crazy but this is what I had to do to get into the degree I loved, and it worked. I decided that I did not want to give up and I did not want to keep wasting my life applying for one university, so I applied everywhere, to all by two courses in the country. And this worked. All I can say is that it worked. I found out in December that I had 1.5 weeks till I had to fly down to Adelaide to attend an interview, I cancelled my placement I was going to attend that week, booked my flights and left. Then later in January, I found out I was accepted into the University of Adelaide and I did not hesitate, I got the email while I was volunteering at a Vet Clinic, I went outside crying and called my family and boyfriend, meanwhile the staff was worried I had bad news but were so excited and happy for me when I told them. I then came home that day and started to pack, and within the month I had moved my whole life 15 hours away.

Stephanie Oliphant aquatic I know to some my story might seem a bit extreme, but I am here to say that it is ok to not get in your first or second try, it took me 5 try’s and it may take others longer. If this is your dream I beg of you not to give up and the Veterinarian industry needs students and vets with as much determination and care towards the animals and the industry, and if you are still applying after years, and have not given up, you deserve it and the industry needs you.

Good luck with your endeavors, and I hope you follow your dream.