Hi everyone, my name is Werdah Iqbal and I am entering my clinical and final year of veterinary school! I am thrilled to be participating in the 2019 Externship Blog project. Before I delve into the life a fourth-year student, I figured that a good starting point was to share my journey to veterinary school. My journey has been atypical to say the least, but I wouldn’t change a thing!
I was always passionate about science – from physics to biology, learning how things worked together to form complex biological systems kept me on my feet and wanting to learn more. My interest in science led me to complete an undergraduate degree in Biology at Queen’s University. I absolutely loved my time at Queen’s. I didn’t dread going to class, rather, I was excited to get to school and often used my spare time to learn more about topics I found interesting. Enjoying many of my classes was great but was also a little bit of a problem because I became interested in too many things; I could envision myself in too many professions. As each undergrad year went by, I hoped that I’d narrow down my many future career paths to just one and stick to it. But alas, that never ended up happening.
I had so many careers floating around in my head – should I be a conservation biologist, veterinarian, researcher or was there a career that I had completely missed? I figured that the best way to narrow down my search was to just choose something and start there. Accordingly, I began volunteering in labs and delving into the research realm. I wasn’t surprised to discover that I loved research and loved the way my brain worked while I was in the lab. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to complete a fourth-year thesis in molecular biology. I’d say my thesis was the turning point for my decision to complete a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology.
This is a good place to mention that veterinary school was always in the back of my mind even while pursuing other career options, but I wasn’t quite ready to take the plunge. All that changed however during the summer before starting my Masters. I completed an intensive two-month internship at a wildlife centre and that experience moved me in ways I’m not sure I’d ever be able to articulate. The wildlife centre showed me that there was a perfect profession for me: being a veterinarian. I realized that being a veterinarian would allow me to be an advocate and voice for animals. It would be a career that made me feel fulfilled; I was confident at that point that I found a career that was molded for me. Regardless of this incredible revelation, I had committed to starting my Masters and I wanted to see that through. My time in graduate school was great – I had supportive advisors, a challenging project and I enjoyed having a flexible schedule. While I liked graduate school, the itch to become a veterinarian grew stronger and stronger. Once I realized that being a veterinarian was my ultimate goal, I became focused on making that dream come true. I ended up applying to the Ontario Veterinary College halfway through my Master degree because I was nervous about applying and wanted to make my first attempt at an application. To my excitement, I had been accepted into the program! The decision to apply halfway through graduate school was a tough one but I had to decide what was best for me. I’ve been continuing and finishing my Masters even while in veterinary school and although that has been challenging to say the least, I would never change that decision as it enabled me to follow my dreams.
Perhaps I could have spared you some of the details about my journey to veterinary school, but I wanted to portray that no one should feel restricted when it comes to following their dreams. It’s okay if you didn’t know at two-years-old that you wanted to be a veterinarian - everyone is going to have their own path to where they need to be. At whichever point you realize that this is the profession for you, it is not too late to set your dreams into motion. We only get one shot at this life, so I think it should be spent doing what you love. If you’re reading this and think it’s too late for you, it’s not. Make your dreams happen.