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Canadian Vet Students Reflect on Their SGU Experiences

school of veterinary

One of the most important decisions you’ll make on the path toward your dream of becoming a veterinarian in Canada is choosing where you’ll earn your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. As you research the top criteria you should be looking for—things like hands-on training opportunities, student support resources, and proven graduate success—you’ll begin to narrow down your options. 

But one of the most effective ways to get a realistic idea of what your school experience will be like is to hear directly from former students. So if you’re considering the St. George’s University (SGU) School of Veterinary Medicine, you’ll want to keep reading. We spoke with two Canadian vet students to hear about their journeys to becoming veterinarians at SGU. 

 Canadian vet students share their SGU experiences 

Sometimes the greatest source of inspiration as you embark on your journey through vet school can be learning from graduates who navigated that path before you. These established veterinarians both got their start at SGU and never looked back. 

 SGU veterinary faculty and students participating in a routine surgery.]

Canadian student gets a jumpstart on her veterinary education 

“I’ve wanted to be a veterinarian since I was in grade four,” Dr. Victoria Black recalls. “Growing up with a dog that had many health issues, I would want to help take care of him; I would always go with my parents to the vet.”  

As a high school student, Dr. Black had the chance to participate in a co-op placement at a local vet clinic. These work placement opportunities offer students hands-on professional experience by partnering with organizations in their communities—all while earning school credit. “I learned the day-to-day life of a veterinarian, and knew this is what I wanted to pursue,” she reflects.   

Dr. Black actually first heard about the SGU School of Veterinary Medicine entirely by accident. “I walked into the wrong international school seminar in downtown Toronto and learned about SGU,” she explains. “What drew me to apply was the pre-veterinary program. I was already in my second year of undergrad and wanted to get a jumpstart on the process.”  

SGU offers a couple of different pre-veterinary tracks designed for high-performing students who are eager to prepare for a career in veterinary medicine. The seven-year pre-veterinary program is perfect for high school graduates who are looking to build their foundational knowledge in areas like chemistry and biology. Students on this track may become eligible to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in pursuit of their DVM. 

The five-year pre-veterinary track is designed for students with existing secondary school or baccalaureate credentials as an opportunity to build upon their academic background in science. It includes a range of subjects that provide the pre-veterinary foundation required to enter the traditional four-year DVM program.  

Once enrolled at SGU, Dr. Black was instantly impressed by the range of student resources available to her, the support of the instructors and administrators, and the variety of extracurricular activities offered to students on the island of Grenada. But above all, she was grateful for the comprehensive veterinary education she received. 

“Veterinary school is definitely academically challenging. It is a big change from previous studies,” Dr. Black notes. But the fact that it was challenging made the experience that much more gratifying. “When I would succeed on an exam, it was rewarding to know all the studying paid off.”  

The clinical experience offered to SGU veterinary students made a significant impact on her readiness for veterinary practice upon graduation. “SGU provided several real-world experiences during our schooling—surgery labs, hands-on experience with small and large animals, client communication, and more,” Dr. Black says. “Multiple externships during my clinical year allowed me to gain experience and overall comfort in my role.” 

That experiential training has had a long-term influence on her career. “At SGU, I learned how to think clinically. I was able to apply it when taking exams, and I’m able to apply it now during my career,” Dr. Black concludes.  

Toronto native gains international perspective on veterinary care 

Dr. Shaneez Wallani also knew she wanted to become a veterinarian at a young age. “I was visiting family in Kenya at the time, and we saw an injured elephant. I felt so bad that I couldn’t help it and decided then that I wanted to become a vet so I could help other animals,” she reflects.  

Defining her career pursuits as a young girl had its advantages. “I feel lucky that I decided on my path so early in life, as it allowed me to focus my education and work experience with my goal in mind,” Dr. Wallani says.  

She first learned of SGU through her mother, who was managing a travel agency and interacted with a number of students booking flights from Toronto to Grenada and back every term. The students raved about their experiences at the SGU School of Veterinary Medicine. The minute Dr. Wallani browsed the website, she knew she belonged at SGU.  

An SGU instructor working with a group of veterinary students

“The admissions staff were very supportive throughout the process, and I got to chat with an SGU graduate during my interview,” she recalls. “Our conversation really helped me feel like this was the right school for me, as we got to discuss the academic aspect as well as what life was like on the island and as an SGU graduate. Overall, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”  

Among the advantages Dr. Wallani observed about studying at SGU were the small class sizes and the ample opportunities to work one-on-one with course instructors. “The SGU School of Veterinary Medicine is a very tight-knit community,” she explains. “I always felt as though the professors and teaching staff genuinely wanted us to succeed. If I had questions about lecture material or concerns about the next exam, I felt comfortable going to the professors and teacher’s assistants for guidance.”  

This also enabled her to build close relationships with her fellow students. “There is a lot of material to learn and forming study groups with my classmates was a real lifesaver. Talking things out helped us clear up confusing concepts and remember things more easily,” Dr. Wallani notes. “And the great part about being in Grenada was that after we were finished studying, there was always something fun to do to help us unwind.” 

Dr. Wallani also found the Caribbean island backdrop to be the perfect environment for studying veterinary medicine. “Attending SGU and living in Grenada allowed me to experience things I never would have imagined doing before,” she says. “Spending the night at Levera beach watching the leatherback sea turtles come up to lay eggs, jumping from the Seven Sisters waterfalls, and all the good times spent soaking up the sun at Grand Anse beach are memories I will always cherish.”  

Attending a Caribbean vet school paved the way for the international perspective on veterinary practice that Dr. Wallani was hoping for. “I appreciate the global approach SGU takes with its veterinary medicine program. It allowed me to identify and treat not only common ailments but also some conditions that are rare or are specific to certain regions,” she explains.  

This proved valuable, as she spent time working in several different areas of the US before returning home to Toronto, and she encountered several diagnoses she wouldn’t have come across in Canada. “It’s one of my goals to help provide veterinary care in underserved areas, and I am confident that the education I got at SGU will serve me well no matter where I go,” Dr. Wallani says.  

Find your path at the SGU School of Veterinary Medicine 

Achieving your dream of becoming a veterinarian has never been more possible. As Dr. Black and Dr. Wallani have demonstrated, if you partner with a supportive, clinically advanced veterinary school, your career goals will be within reach. 

If you’re feeling inspired by these Canadian vet students’ stories, see if you can follow in their footsteps and find your place at St. George’s University. Learn more about SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine. 

 

DATE

March 9, 2022

CATEGORY

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school of veterinary