How many of your lives have played out by the script you wrote as a child? A teenager? A college student? Since yesterday?! I didn’t plan to go to vet school as a kid like many dreamed of doing all their life, I wanted to ranch, if I had a clue at all what I wanted to do. I started out college in the department of chemical engineering at Texas A&M, not necessarily the way to make the GPA needed for vet school over 25 years ago, but it was a broad based education that allowed me to go to med school or law school or do just about anything, supposedly. Well, I did well to listen to those older and wiser than me, namely my parents, and I consistently did my best, worked hard at a number of different things and finally, in the middle of my junior year, I decided to apply to vet school. I got my rejection letter after the first application, not entirely surprising knowing that my overall GPA was on the low end of applicants, but, in the middle of the summer of 1987 I got another letter. I was the fourth alternate on the admission list and at least four people had either failed to complete the admission requirements or opted not to accept the invitation to attend. So, my journey of the past 27 years began that fall as a member of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine Class of 1991.
Dr Kenita Rogers was one of my teachers in vet school, a very influential one, a brilliant one who had the gifted mix of humor, compassion, talent and genius which made her a fantastic role model. It is ironic that while visiting with her she mentioned the obvious points of a veterinary applicant needing to be strong in the sciences, and work with veterinarians from many backgrounds, but she repeatedly emphasized the importance of a “well-rounded individual”. As our society, and the professions from medicine to law to engineering seem to trend towards and prefer “specialization”, applicants to one of the most highly competitive educational processes are encouraged to be “well-rounded individuals”. This soaked in even further as I listened to Tim Ferris’s podcast “The Tim Ferris Show” on specialization, and how specialization is for insects, not people. Why should someone who just gives shots and checks poop and does c-sections on cows need to be a “well-rounded individual”?
You see, there are two parts to that statement. “Well-rounded” suggests someone with more than just a passing knowledge of a wide variety of subjects. “Well-rounded” allows you to carry on conversation and potentially even contribute when opportunities un-imagined present themselves. “Well-rounded” implies a life balance necessary to cope with challenges which others may see as insurmountable, being not only interesting, but interested. But the word “individual” carries the magic of the descriptive. For it is the collection of individuals, those with independent thought, values, ethics, incentive, and ambition which make an outstanding country, community, profession, business, and even family. Though I am but a neophyte in the field of philosophy (but I continue to pursue “well-roundedness”!), Socrates championed the importance of the individual, while Plato advocated the state’s significance over that of the individual. Today, take a look at the institutions of government and religions who advocate sacrifice of the individual for the benefit of the state? Their contributions to the world are genocide, terror, oppression, whereas individuals in an open society have brought us life, vaccines, works of music and art, ESPN and the iPhone! YOU!!! YOU MATTER! Become the individual, the unique, never duplicated individual put here to contribute in whatever way you see fit and proper on YOUR journey. I’ve heard Jim Rohn say, “Do what you can, and do the best you can.” That’s all I did. That’s all You need to do. But don’t fall into the trap of believing what you can do is all you can do. For over twenty years I had no inkling of applying to vet school, but I was raised to always do my best. I played sports, went to church, did student government, worked several jobs and studied the lives of people whose life looked like what I might want mine to turn out like one day. Has it been a smooth road? Hell no! But good God it’s been a great journey! And this individual ain’t done yet! Embrace your individuality and that of others. Maybe vet school isn’t in your plans, but becoming a “well-rounded INDIVIDUAL” will prepare you to make your contribution to society wherever and however your journey leads. Thanks for stopping by!
The next couple of months the show focus is going to move towards lamenesses, imaging and that sort of thing and I thought the natural place to transition over from external parasite control to lameness would be Lyme Disease. Dr Terry Clark, a great classmate of mine from the Texas Veterinary Medical Center Class of 1991, currently Medical Director at VCA Metroplex Animal Hospital in Irving, joins me to share her experiences with Lyme disease. We discuss testing, recognition, vaccine usage and of course tick control. Also, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus, PEDv, is decimating our pork industry to the point that we the consumer will soon be seeing a slight increase in pork product prices.
PS…It is really tricky doing a show on April Fools Day, but I think you will find we made it through! ;)!