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Class of 2018 Story: A Community Unlike Any Other

John Griffioen
John Griffioen, class of 2018. Photo by John Joyner/NC State Veterinary Medicine

Name: John Griffioen
Hometown: Kalamazoo, Mich.
Focus: Zoological medicine
Post-graduation plans: Internship at Mystic Aquarium

The CVM taught me how to problem-solve. It taught me how to approach complexities and the importance of utilizing available resources. Perhaps more importantly, the CVM reminded me of the critical importance of being a part of a community that is bigger than yourself.

NC State CVM faculty are without question some of the brightest and most invested veterinarians in the profession. Meeting faculty and getting to know their diversity of perspectives and true investment in their students is what initially brought me to NC State, and it’s been a consistent thread throughout my entire experience.

NC State offers the most complete veterinary education in non-traditional experiences. I feel greatly prepared for a career in zoological medicine. The faculty and staff are founders and leaders in the fields of zoological and aquatic animal medicine, but remain engaged with students.

The sheer number and quality of core classes, electives and exotic animal extracurricular activities builds on a foundation of traditional veterinary medicine that exposes each student to the challenges and rewards of working with non-traditional species. This program truly aims to create thoughtful, creative and compassionate veterinarians in all areas of the field.

My most educational experience was as an officer and later as president of the Turtle Rescue Team. In addition to cultivating a passion for chelonian medicine, it provided opportunities for learning case management, real life applications of surgical and medical procedures, management of a health professional team and communication with members of the public. The willingness of other clinicians to work cross-disciplinary in management of turtle cases exemplified the nature of collaboration in the veterinary profession.

I have grown considerably in my ability to challenge my own perspective and think creatively. I have also learned that it’s easy to get caught up in constantly looking to the future. If you do that, you lose the magic of the moment. My advice for students is to embrace and experience the present while in veterinary school and not become hyper-focused on your future following graduation.

We miss so much of this experience worrying about what we’re going to do next instead of appreciating how hard we’ve worked to get here. Take time to reflect on where you’ve come from and try to appreciate that everyone’s experience leading into and during vet school is completely different and there is so much to be gained by that.

Being a member of the veterinary community requires occasional sacrifices and personal investment, but provides a return on that investment far greater than could be achieved on your own. I look forward to being an active member of the veterinary profession and fostering an atmosphere of collaboration and support wherever life leads me.