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Goodnight Alumni Spotlight: Christian Williams

After graduating high school near Charlotte, Goodnight Scholar alumna Christian Williams T’21 embarked on a journey to become a veterinary technician, even taking pre-requisite courses at Gaston Community College to prepare for the Vet Tech program. But, after encouragement and urging from both community college professors and mentors to pursue her Doctorate degree in addition to her Associates degree, Christian’s goal evolved into attending Veterinary School. Read our latest Goodnight Scholars Alumni Spotlight to learn how Christian’s mindset has changed from being a “small town, female student with little experience in the veterinary field” to a confident first-year student at NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Goodnight Scholars Program: Tell us about yourself! 

Christian Williams T’21: I transferred to NC State from Gaston Community College in 2018 as a member of the Goodnight Scholars Transfer Class of 2021. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science in 2020, and I am now a second-year student at NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. I am currently working toward a career as a mixed animal private practitioner.

What inspired you to attend veterinary school?

I have always loved working with animals, but I actually didn’t decide to attend veterinary school until I was much older. My senior year of high school, I initially decided to pursue a career as a veterinary technician. I worked at a few different veterinary hospitals near my hometown and took pre-requisite courses at Gaston Community College in preparation for a veterinary technician program. It was here that several of my professors and veterinary mentors encouraged me to pursue my Doctorate instead of just my Associate’s, which I didn’t consider before, thinking that I would never succeed in a veterinary program or career. It wasn’t until after I submitted my application to a veterinary technician program that I decided to pursue vet school instead. I withdrew my application and started taking prerequisite courses to transfer to a four-year university and pursue veterinary school. 

My biggest inspiration when making this decision was without a doubt the professors and mentors who encouraged me to go beyond my comfort zone and the limits I had placed on myself. As an introverted, small town, female student with so little experience in the veterinary field, I couldn’t picture myself working as a leader in such a prestigious profession. My professors and veterinary mentors were the ones who helped me see my own potential and ability to succeed at anything I set my mind to do

How did you prepare as an undergraduate for Veterinary School applications?

Preparing for veterinary school applications is definitely a full-time job in and of itself! One of the most important things is trying to get experience with different areas of veterinary medicine (small animal, large animal, exotics, research, etc.), as well as other non-veterinary related careers. This will not only make your application well-rounded but will also help you decide if veterinary school is a good fit for you, which area of veterinary medicine you like best, or if another career would be a better fit for you. I worked with equine, mixed animal, and small animal veterinarians to gain experience in different fields of private practice. In addition, I worked at the Small Ruminant Education Unit at NC State and with Turtle Rescue Team to gain further animal experience. I also performed research focused on toxicology in aquatic organisms. These experiences allowed me to portray myself as a well-rounded individual on my application, and I also developed skills and attributes that have helped me succeed on my veterinary journey thus far.

What appealed to you about staying in town and studying at the NC State Vet School?

When deciding which veterinary schools I would apply to, one deciding factor was distance from my hometown. I come from a very close family and didn’t want to be far from home, so I mostly researched the schools within a few hours driving distance in addition to some of the higher ranked schools, such as Cornell University. I also looked at tuition and fees, and NC State was the best financial option, being my only in-state choice. Finally, my goal from the beginning was to pursue a career as a mixed animal veterinarian, and NC State offered a wide variety of experiences in both small and large animal medicine, making it my top choice even when considering academics alone. Overall, I felt that NC State would be the best fit for me and that studying here would best prepare me for the career I want to pursue.

Any advice to someone interested in applying to veterinary school?

As I mentioned before, the application process for veterinary school is extensive, but I found it to be so much easier and more enjoyable when writing about things I loved to do. In addition to my veterinary and animal experiences, I included my work with community service, leadership, music, and other experiences I had since high school. Many people applying to vet school are surprised by the variety of experiences that can be added to a veterinary school application – including running your own business, babysitting and pet sitting, theater, and so many other experiences that contribute to who you are now. My biggest advice to anyone applying to veterinary school is to find things that they are passionate about and pursue those experiences, instead of doing something just to add it to your application. You will get so much more out of an experience if you truly enjoy it, allowing you to tell your story better – not only what you did but also what you learned, skills you developed, and how that experience made you a better applicant. This makes all those application essays easier to write, and your application will better represent you as a whole.

What was your favorite memory during your undergraduate years?

There are so many experiences I could talk about from my time as an undergraduate student, but I would have to say that my favorite memories were just spending time with other Goodnight Scholars. I formed the closest relationships with those that I spent time with in the Goodnight Scholars lounge, at football and basketball games, on last-minute restaurant outings, and so many others. These were the people that encouraged me in my lowest times, challenged me to go outside of my comfort zone, and cheered me on when I was successful. I cherish these friendships and memories to this day, because I know without a doubt that I would not have made it to where I am today without the support I have received from my fellow scholars.

If you weren’t a Veterinary Student, where would your professional interests lead y0u?

As I mentioned before, I didn’t decide to attend veterinary school until I was already in college. In middle school and high school, my career goal was actually to become an architect or interior designer. I still have collections of blueprints and elevation drawings I designed growing up, and one of my biggest inspirations during this time was Frank Lloyd Wright. As a high school senior, I felt architecture wasn’t going to be a good fit for me and decided to try working in the veterinary field, which completely changed my career pathway and eventually led me to where I am today.