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Student Voice: An Officer and a Veterinarian, Generations in the Making

Sam Tucker, Class of 2021 and Meghan Louis, a zoological medicine resident at the CVM and a major in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, at commissioning ceremony. Photo by John Joyner/NC State Veterinary Medicine

Each family has a tradition they take pride in and cherish. For mine, it’s military service.

Members of my family have served in all five branches, during the Civil War through the war on terrorism. Being raised in a family with such a rich history, I knew that no matter what my career would be my true calling was to serve.

I am Sam Tucker, a rising second-year student at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, and I am a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves. I will join the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps upon graduation from the CVM.

My father, a 20-year veteran of the Marines, traveled across the world impacting many lives through his humanitarian work as a combat engineer. My grandfather, who recently passed, served in the Air Force for 23 years and experienced combat in Vietnam. However, the one story that has impacted me the most is that of my great uncle, Daniel James Newell, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country in France during World War II.

Listening to his story passed down by my family taught me about true sacrifice in the name of fighting for what is right. The stories, not only of these individuals but multiple others in my family, embedded within me not just discipline but a pride for my country and the importance of selflessness. It has always been a dream to serve.

Knowing that I wanted to be a veterinarian in the Army, I began to explore ways that I could become more involved before graduation from the CVM. I discovered the Army’s Health Professions Scholarship Program before I began my first year.

The program provides a way to finance debt incurred during veterinary school, but also offers a quick start toward a career in the uniformed services. It gives me an opportunity to travel, continue to develop myself into a professional and network with a multitude of physicians and leaders in multiple specialties.

Pursuing this program was my main goal during my first year. I found myself excited beyond words when I was told by my recruiter that I had been selected. But now that I knew that I was going to be a U.S. Army veterinarian, I needed to decide what kind of veterinarian I wanted to be.

Inspiration came out of the mentorship and influence of Meghan Louis, a zoological medicine resident at the CVM and a major in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. From the first time we met last fall to discuss my Army career  to becoming her research assistant, she has helped me see how my passion for zoological medicine, preventative medicine and the military can intersect.

Luckily, I have her footsteps to follow.

Having completed my whirlwind of a first year at the CVM, I am overwhelmed with the amount of support I have received from my classmates, faculty and administration as I pursued obtaining the HPSP and starting my career within the Veterinary Corps.

After the passing of my grandfather last week, I was gifted with his old compass that he used during the Vietnam War. As I look at it I smile, knowing that the strong tradition of serving the United States that is instilled in my family will continue with me.

Sam Tucker, a member of the Class of 2021 from Sanford, took part in a HPSP commissioning ceremony with family members and his recruiter on the CVM campus on April 27.