Wildlife Vet Adventure in South Africa!

Kristen Dahlin Start Date: Jan 16, 2018 - End Date: May 22, 2018
  • Chintsa West, Eastern Cape, South Africa

My Travel Story

by: Kristen Dahlin Start Date: Jan 16, 2018 - End Date: May 22, 2018
Hello! My name is Kristen Dahlin, I'm an undergraduate at Washington State University studying Animal Science, Zoology, and Pre-veterinary Medicine. I will be applying to several veterinary colleges at the end of Summer 2018, and have decided to travel to South Africa for three weeks this summer to gain experience in wildlife medicine. My career goal is to become a veterinarian for non-companion exotics, whether it is through a zoo, aqaurium, wildlife sanctuary, or research institute. However, this can be a challenging goal to achieve, as there are very few opportunities in the United States to work with the species that I have a desire to learn about. Traveling to South Africa would help me gain the experience I seek and allow me to begin learning hands-on veterinary skills as an undergraduate.

The program that I am partcipating in is a Pre-Vet Wildlife Internship in Chinsta, South Africa. I will be staying there for three weeks and working alongside veterinarians each day. There is no set plan for each day at the internship, as work isn't always predictable. However, I know for sure I will be getting opportunities to work with South African wildlife, domestic pets in town, and livestock. While the main focus is wildlife, and that of course is my significant interest, it will be equally as important to experience the domestic and livestock aspects of veterinary care. To read about the exciting experiences that other participants have had and see why I'm so excited to go, you can check out these write-ups/blogs here, here, and here.

A large portion of current veterinary students were not successfully admitted on their first attempt. Furthermore, the schools I am applying to have high rankings and regards, meaning that they are very selective with who they let in. On their most recent available statistics, WSU CVM admitted 11.4% of applicants (83.5% being in-state like me), and CSU CVM admitted only 8.9% of applicants (45.7% being out-of-state like me) - WSU and CSU being my top two schools. This means that I need to have whatever I can to stand out among my tough competition to the world of veterinary medicine. Those who spend a lot of time with me know that I spent all last summer shadowing at veterinary clinics (Sno-Wood VCA and Inglemoor Animal Hospital) and have been dedicated to my studies to maintain my pre-requisite GPA. However, while I have put in so many valuable hours on these requirements, it is time for me to do something extra not only to stand out to those vet admittance panels, but something that I am genuinely excited about. This is a big reason as to why I am choosing to do this international program.

Unfortunately, neither this trip nor veterinary school is cheap. The average debt of veterinary students who graduated in 2016 was $143,757.82. I will undoubtedly be taking out student loans to pay for this educational endeavor. This trip is much more affordable than that, but still is $2,900 with airfare estimated to be between $1,100 and $1,500. Any dollar that I can save on this trip will help me save up for the many expenses of veterinary school.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. If you choose to donate to my trip, you will be helping someone get an experience that is not only exciting and educational, but will help in achieving career goals. I know that this trip will be a wild adventure, thank you for all the support!
  • Chintsa West, Eastern Cape, South Africa