Like many people, Christine Smith grew up with a love for animals. Living in the Bronx, N.Y., she always had cats around. She was fortunate to attend a high school that gave her the option of choosing animal care as a major, and though she considered the possibility of studying to become a veterinarian, veterinary technology will allow her to still be a huge part of an animal care team while being able to focus more on customer service for the client.
"There are only three things that a veterinary technician can't do. They can't diagnose, prescribe treatment or perform surgery," said Smith. "But, they're actually the first point of contact when a client comes in. They're interpreters for veterinarians, because the client doesn't always understand all of the language that veterinarians use when speaking with them. They come to vet techs with their questions, so the vet techs feel connected to the clients."
Smith and her family moved to Pennsylvania after she finished high school, and she initially started her courses at the Monroe campus. When she was accepted into the vet tech program, they moved into the Lehigh Valley so that she could be closer to both the main campus and the "barn" where vet tech students get hands-on learning experience working with small animals. With the program being competitive and enrolling only 20 students each semester, Smith was grateful to be given the chance to pursue a career that she was passionate about.
"I told myself as soon as I made it in that I'm going to do what I have to do. It's been great so far, but it's also a lot of sacrifice because I'm always either in class or studying," says Smith. "The professors in the program only want to help you achieve a better result. They'll spend extra time helping you, and there's an open lab where you can get help. They just want to drill things into our heads. Before you accept going to any college, you look into that college. I did that, and NCC has had exactly what I needed."
Smith hopes to go directly into her line of work after she's finished with her associate's degree. Veterinary Technicians are required to work on continuing education, and must take 16 hours of class every two years to familiarize themselves with the latest techniques and information in their field. Eventually, Smith hopes to choose a specialty and is considering animal dentistry. For now, she's focused on completing the program to best of her ability. In her down time, she spends time with animals to ease some of the stress of her studies.
"Before I even got into the program, I was volunteering at PetSmart with the cats. I just love animals. Anything animal-related is my hobby," says Smith. "I do have some advice for other students hoping to come into the program, though. Just make sure you're ready to do a lot of hard work and make some sacrifices. It isn't easy, but it's worth it."
Name: Christine Smith
Program Major: Veterinary Technician
Projected Graduation Date: 2015