Open House 2023: ‘It’s important for kids to see what they dream about’
Community members by the hundreds strolled through the halls of the hospital, health and wellness center and research building and along the paths to food trucks, the horse corral and a cow-milking station, among other treats.
Periodic rain couldn’t dampen the excitement as the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine revived its popular Open House after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Community members by the hundreds strolled by the tents of local animal rescue groups, through the halls of the hospital, health and wellness center and research building and along the paths to food trucks, the horse corral and a cow-milking station.
They watched demonstrations of the standing equine CT machine, acupuncture on horses and the pressure mat that measures gaits so veterinarians can understand how and where animals might feel pain. Some learned about how to become a veterinary student, what a day in the life of a veterinary student is like and what kinds of social and service student groups are available to join.
“It’s important for kids who want to be veterinarians to get their foot in the door and see what life is like and also just explore their passion a little bit more for vet med,” says Mallory Flanagan, a second-year veterinary student and one of the Open House coordinators. The Open House offers the community a chance to glimpse how a top-ranked veterinary school engages students, faculty and staff and the world through its expertise and research.
That’s exactly why Meredith Ruff of Raleigh brought her daughter Olivia and son Ethan to the Open House on Saturday. Olivia, 12, loves animals and wants to be a veterinarian, maybe working at a zoo, she says.
“Animals are so fascinating,” Olivia said. “Just the way their brains work. The way every process in them works. It’s so fascinating just to think about and see how they interact with the world around them as well as with us and each other. I just like to learn all I can.”
Ruff says she wanted to explore the school and find out more about the requirements to become a veterinary student.
“She’s young still, but it’s a long path so it will be fun to have something to focus on and work toward, learning what it takes to get into school and what you should be studying leading up to it,” she says.
Even younger than Olivia was 5-year-old Thomas Taylor, whose father, Zack, has undergraduate and master’s degrees from NC State and works as a research technician in the weed science department.
“He’s crazy about animals and is really into wanting to be a biologist when he grows up,” Taylor says of Thomas. “We wanted to bring him so he could see the different animals. We’re going to go find the turtles and snakes because that’s what he’s really into. I’m into the plant side, and he’s into the animal side. He’s just been interested in animals since he’s been born. It’s what he’s gravitated toward. We try to encourage it.”
Thomas explained why he was checking out the horses of the NC Troopers Association Caisson Unit at the Open House.
“I like that they say, “Neiiiiigggggh,’” Thomas said, stretching out the vowels several seconds, “and everyone is a different color.”
In the anatomy lab, the Grover family from Burgaw, North Carolina, took advantage of a photo booth and then snaked through the exhibits of animal skeletons and models as first-year veterinary students talked visitors through what they were seeing.
Lauren Grover, 11, is another potential veterinarian. When she found out more than a year ago that the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine offered an Open House before the pandemic, she continuously reminded her mother to check to see whether the college had revived the tradition.
“It’s important for kids to see what they dream about,” says her father, Mark Grover, a former instructor at Cape Fear Community College. “I’m a huge advocate for higher education, and the sooner we put littles in a room and let them see what’s happening in the buildings that they drive by, it connects the dots for them.”
Grover says the Open House helped make his daughter’s dream of becoming a veterinarian more believable.
“Things like this are just huge because it takes the distraction away,” says Grover, who now is an in-house instructor at IBM. “I’ve talked to so many kids who say, ‘I think this is what I want to do’ or ‘I think this is where I want to go.’ Open the school up and let them walk through. This is going to be really impactful for her. I don’t know where she’s going to end up, but she had the opportunity to take a dream and make it tangible for a day.”
In the Teddy Bear Clinic, one of several child-centric areas that included face-painting, coloring and animal identification games, Raleigh Fisher waited patiently as third-year student Jacob Levine stitched up one of the two injured stuffed animals that she had brought from home.
“This is Lucky from ‘101 Dalmatians,’” said Raleigh, who is 4. “I like the babies when they’re little” in the movie.
‘A great success’
Second-year veterinary student Jasmine McIver volunteered at the Teddy Bear Clinic and enjoyed getting to show children where dreams can take you.
“It’s been very lovely getting to see all the kids and see how bright-eyed and bushy-tailed they are,” McIver said. “How excited they are to learn, to see what we do on a daily basis has been really cool.”
College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Kate Meurs and numerous attendees declared the day a dandy.
“Even with a little rain, the @NCStateVetMed Open House is a great success and an incredible way to show the public about the diverse and important roles for veterinarians in society,” Meurs posted on her Twitter account at @NCStateCVMDean.
On Facebook, Debbie Adams, an NC State engineering alum, had this to say:
“THANK YOU for a great event. I’m so proud of ALL State has to offer. And the caliber of students and volunteers was phenomenal. Job VERY well done, CVM. Go, PACK!”
Find more photos from the event here: https://go.ncsu.edu/openhouse23gallery