Different Backgrounds But Shared Enthusiasm: Meet the Class of 2027
The NC State College of Veterinary Medicine’s Class of 2027 comes from all walks of life.
Students fresh from undergraduate degrees mingle with professionals pivoting to a new career, lifelong North Carolina residents meet newcomers to the state or country, and parents of human children swap stories with dog, cat, ferret and turtle moms and dads.
Regardless of their backgrounds, members of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s newest cohort had at least two things in common as they began orientation this week: typical first-day-of-school jitters and a profound love for animals.
“I was nervous for it at first, but everyone’s been really cool,” says first-year Nico Swanson Villares of Gurabo, Puerto Rico. “All the faculty seem really nice, and there seems to be a really great support system here.”
Seeing students get more comfortable with the school and each other is orientation leader Sarah Ho’s favorite part of the welcoming process, which spanned three days ahead of the school year’s start Aug. 7.
Ho, the director of student engagement, says the Class of 2027 has already distinguished itself from other cohorts for its resilience and readiness to learn.
“After COVID, they’re just hungry for connection, for building a community, for the culture of the CVM, and I’m really excited to watch them grow in that,” she says.
The group has an average age of 24.5 and includes 17 students from other states, territories or countries. At the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, 80 percent of the students in each class are from North Carolina.
The majority of students plan to specialize in some form of small animal medicine, with mixed animal medicine being a close second followed by food animal medicine, zoological medicine and clinical sciences.
First-year Anusha Chandra is still deciding whether she wants to pursue a specialization amid the thrill of finally attending the College of Veterinary Medicine.
“It’s been literally a lifelong dream of mine,” Chandra says.
She participated in Vet Camp, hosted by NC State’s Veterinary Professions Advising Center, as a junior in high school and also attended NC State as an undergraduate in the hopes of reaching that goal.
Ask her what sets NC State apart from other veterinary schools she considered and she has an answer ready.
“The faculty are really here to support you and they really care about you, and I think the values that the CVM has are something that are really important to me as well,” she says.
Students exercised those core values – community, inclusivity, innovation and passion – as orientation activities took them across campus, from classrooms to the anatomy lab and the Teaching Animal Unit farm. They partnered to balance balloons and form a human chain in team-building activities that Ho says were just as formative as they were fun.
“It’s not just school – this is a community,” she says. “We have a culture here, we have people from all different backgrounds, and we want them to feel like they can build a home here with each other.”
New student Jeffrey Perkins is pursuing veterinary medicine after discovering his initial career in electrical engineering was not as fulfilling as he’d hoped. His first few days here have already proven to be electrifying, albeit in a different way.
“There’s an astounding number of really amazing people here,” says Perkins, from Raleigh. “Apparently we have an Olympian, somebody who was in the circus, I’ve met a Green Beret, people who have been all over the world, people who have done wildlife rehabilitation, people who have done exotic animal medicine – just the mix of people we have is really exciting.”
Experienced students and faculty members advised the Class of 2027 in a Q&A panel that there will be challenging days ahead in the classroom and clinic where these first-years will need to draw on that excitement and their community for encouragement.
But for now, the students are eagerly soaking up every first.
“Getting to explore the facilities and seeing actual patients coming around, it’s like, ‘Oh, my god,’” says Ellen Yu of Chapel Hill. “It’s real!”