Kate Walbridge, a rising eighth grader at Frederica Academy, has a career path in mind, and she is using summer 2017 as the first step to reach her goal. Twice a week, Kate can be found at the Island Animal Hospital on Saint Simons Island where she spends time learning about her passion, veterinary medicine. As a volunteer, her responsibilities range from doing laundry, to cleaning kennels, to operating machinery, to running bloodwork, and to supporting staff. On occasion, Kate also has the opportunity to observe surgeries.
Typically a quiet young woman, Kate’s enthusiasm for becoming a vet seems to bring out another side to her. After frequent visits to the Island Animal Hospital with her family dog, Kate became familiar with the staff and knew that this was an opportunity she wanted to seize. Traci Crankshaw, hospital manager, said that the hospital does not typically have volunteers, especially ones as young as Kate. Thinking back on their email correspondence, Traci recalls being shocked to learn of Kate’s age because her emails had been so thoughtful and well written. When asked how she attained the position, Kate smiled out of the corner of her mouth and said, “I guess I was kind of persistent.” And it is evident that her persistence is paying off as Kate already has plans for future summers to gain more experience. According to Dr. Jaclyn Luckstone, it is this kind of hands-on training that will one day set Kate apart from her classmates. “In my experience at vet school, the people who become the best vets are those who had a lot of experience,” commented Dr. Luckstone.
Kate’s favorite aspect of volunteering at the hospital is experiencing the many situations that arise and learning how to diagnose different issues. While rewarding and fun, Kate admits there are sacrifices that come with this opportunity. She said that “friends are going places, but I have a responsibility here. But, I feel like it’s worth it.” This awareness and maturity on Kate’s part are positioning her for future success. Maybe one day her classmates will be bringing their pets to see Dr. Walbridge.