As a freshman in the College of ACES, I began as a James Scholar, with a dream of attending veterinary school to become a mixed animal veterinarian. I knew that this dream would not be achieved easily, so I wanted to prepare myself in every way possible during my undergraduate schooling. Conveniently and thankfully for me, the College of ACES James Scholar Program provided me with experiences that set me apart in the veterinary school application process and helped prepare me for the rigors of vet school. By taking on honors projects and conducting research projects, I was able to form lasting relationships with professors and other students, both undergraduate and graduate, that I would not have if I weren’t in the James Scholar Program. Some of these professors and students I got to know very well were then happy to provide me with letters of recommendation for applications and scholarships when the time came.
Another high point of the James Scholar program was being able to design and conduct my own research project with any faculty member of my choosing. I not only gained invaluable laboratory skills, but also got many lessons in perseverance and innovation, two things I have used daily in my first year of veterinary school here at the University of Illinois. Balancing my regular class load with honors classes, extracurriculars, and research projects was sometimes challenging, but I can confidently say it made me a better student and professional. The James Scholar Program played an integral role in preparing me for veterinary school. Not only the skills I gained from being a James Scholar, but the relationships I formed with professors, peers and James Scholar advisers will help me through these next four years in vet school.