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Faculty and Staff

Trio From Spain Make Surprise Long-Distance Connection at NC State

spanish house officers
 The three house officers from left, Mikael Pinto, Loli Sanchez and Javi Perez Quesada.

One of the last things Loli Sanchez, Javi Perez Quesada and Mickaël Pinto expected to find when they started as interns or residents at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine this summer was that there would be not one but two other graduates of the same university in Spain as part of their NC State cohort. 

It was a welcome touch of familiarity as they all make the adjustment to a new country, a new city and a new job.

Between the port city of Valencia, Spain, home to the Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera, and Raleigh, North Carolina, are about 4,160 miles, a nearly nine-hour flight over the Atlantic Ocean. Sanchez, Perez Quesada and Pinto all graduated from CEU Cardenal Herrera, but it wasn’t until they made the transatlantic trek to Raleigh that they met one another. Sanchez graduated in 2015, Perez Quesada in 2018 and Pinto in 2019. 

At the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine, interns and residents are called house officers at the NC State Veterinary Hospital. Sanchez is a clinical research intern originally from Spain. Perez Quesada is an equine medicine resident from the Canary Islands, and Pinto is a dermatology intern from France. 

The life of a house officer is a hectic one, and although the three have met, they haven’t had a chance to spend a lot of time together yet. 

All three, however, believe that having others with shared experiences and backgrounds will be helpful. Familiarity and stability haven’t been easy to come by for these dedicated budding professionals. Each has traveled a winding personal road to get to NC State.

Pinto grew up in Paris and spent a lot of time riding horses for fun in his youth. His involvement with horses evolved initially into an interest in equine veterinary medicine, which in turn gradually developed into an interest in dermatology. 

“My love for derm was sparked by several encounters with dermatologists with unique personalities,” he says . 

Many veterinary students in Europe pursue externships to enhance their professional portfolios, and Pinto focused on finding one in the United States, which was not easy to secure, especially during the pandemic. It took him four years to land his current position at NC State. As much as he enjoys being here, Pinto is happy to know there are others with whom he has something in common. 

“I loved my years in Spain,” he says. “It will be great to share memories. I think we’ll have an immediate bond.”

Sanchez is a native of Spain, but like her fellow Herrera graduates, she has an international outlook. She has already spent time in France, Canada and the United States and is interested in learning to speak Chinese. 

It was while she was serving as an intern in Montreal that she heard about NC State’s Duncan Lascelles and his groundbreaking pain research. Attracted by the possibility of working with Lascelles, she set her sights on coming to NC State.

“There are more research opportunities in the U.S.,” she says. “It was not a difficult choice.” In fact, she hopes to remain in this country to pursue a career in small animal surgery.

Finding two other graduates from the same Spanish veterinary college at NC State was unexpected but welcome. 

Finding two other graduates from the same Spanish veterinary college at NC State was unexpected but welcome. 

“I was definitely surprised to find two others here,” she says. “Really surprised.”

Perez Quesada shares the multi-lingual experience of his colleagues, having spent considerable time in Germany, even taking his college entrance exams there. Like many veterinarians, he grew up loving animals and chose his future career at an early age. He, too, loved riding horses, even taking part in equestrian events. 

He finds his work as an equine medicine resident hectic and intense, but highly rewarding.

“I love it,” he says, acknowledging that it demands great dedication, too. “You have to want it all your life.”

Perez Quesada says that he learned about NC State from a resident working in Liverpool, England, and that when he interviewed for a position here it “surpassed my expectations.” His goal is to eventually return to Europe to be close to his family.

At first glance, it may seem to be an amazing coincidence that three graduates of the same private university in Valencia, Spain, should end up as colleagues at NC State, but it’s actually unsurprising that three widely traveled people dedicated to their careers and adaptable to other languages and cultures should end up at one of the top colleges of veterinary medicine in the world.

Bienvenidos a NC State, Loli, Javi y Mickaël. Nos alegramos de que estan aqui. (Translation: Welcome to NC State, Loli, Javi and Mickaël. We’re glad you’re here.)