Born in San Jose, CA, Patrice Perkins moved to Stockton, CA, with her family at the age of 11. After graduating high school in 2008, Patrice started out her college career thinking she wanted to be a pharmacist. She enrolled at a community college as a chemistry major, before switching to biology.
But after about 18 months, Patrice realized that she hadn’t made much progress because of all the pre-requisites she had to take. She then realized her future lay in a different direction; she decided to follow her passion and enrolled at Carrington College California in March 2011.
I always wanted to work with animals but I wasted a lot of time at community college taking different classes to see what I liked. There came a point when I decided to follow my heart. Before enrolling at Carrington, I volunteered with the Animal Protection League – a no-kill shelter – for six months. I got the opportunity to work with the veterinary technicians at the shelter because they saw me as reliable. I stopped volunteering when I decided to go back to school to become a vet tech myself.
Patrice graduated from the Veterinary Technology program at our Stockton campus in January this year. At the time of our interview, Patrice was waiting to take her state board exams^ to become a Registered Veterinary Technician.
It was a 22 month program; the longest 22 months of my life, but not necessarily in a bad way! I’ve developed so much as a person. I was relatively shy and quiet when I first started, but by the end I had become a student mentor and a leader. My classmates would come to me if they needed help or guidance. I’ve just become more outgoing and confident since I started the program.
As you can tell, Patrice feels that she got much more out of Carrington College California than a practical veterinary technician education; and she gives the credit for that to the faculty at the Stockton campus.
The instructors and staff at Carrington were really good; they got close to me and made me feel comfortable. Going to the internships really built my confidence a lot. Getting out there and proving to myself that I could do this made a big difference to me.
Initially I joined the program because I loved animals and hated people – now I’ve learned to love people too! I’ve learned to talk to people without thinking too much about it. I’ve always been kind of socially awkward; but that changed once I started building my confidence working with clients.
When Patrice first told her friends and family of her plans to study veterinary technology, she said that everybody was pretty skeptical because, at that time, she was quite impulsive.
Everybody thought I would get bored of this, as that’s what happened in my previous college career. But once they saw how well I was doing, and how serious I was about it, then I gained their support. I guess I showed them!
Patrice now works at Sierra Veterinary Clinic, a small animal practice in Stockton. She still hopes to further her education and career, but for the moment she is happy building her experience.
I did two internships and my externship at their clinic; they hired me while I was doing my externship. I got hired as a tech assistant and they just moved me up to veterinary technician; my responsibilities have increased ten-fold!
Honestly I wanted to be a veterinarian; but I needed a job so bad I couldn’t afford the time or the expense. This was just a 22 month program so I decided to go for it. In fact, even though I’ve just graduated with my associate degree, I’m still considering going back to school – it’s in my line of sight so to speak – maybe I’ll study part-time to become a full-blown veterinarian. I couldn’t get enough of school. I was never very good in high school, but I really enjoyed this program.
To be a successful Veterinary Technician, you have to love animals, but you also have to be made of strong stuff.
There are times when you have a hospitalized patient that may have been in for a week, and you’re just waiting, hoping for this animal to get better. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and you end up having to put the animal to sleep. It kind of kills your hopes a little bit, but you do need to have a strong heart in the field. I do feel that if anyone should be putting animals to sleep, it should be those who love and respect animals the most.
We asked Patrice about her career goals, and where she sees herself in three years.
I hope to start working with exotics; I want to be the ‘go-to’ technician for exotics when they come into the practice. I’d like to start working with birds a little more, so I can work my way up to raptors. I’ve always been mystified by birds of prey.
But for the time being I’m happy in general practice as I need to build my experience. Maybe in three years I’ll start looking into a practice that specializes more in birds, either full or part-time. I’d also like to start volunteering at local zoos, as I do want to get into working with raptors. I’ve have a lot of things I’m thinking about, that I haven’t really planned out yet.
Patrice looks back on her time at Carrington College California fondly, and she speaks very highly of the Stockton campus.
The staff and faculty are amazing; they’re very knowledgeable. If you have any problems they take the time to sit down with you and work through it. They actually care about you; and that was something I’d never experienced in school before. The facility was excellent too; we had our own lab where we could practice the skills we would need out in the field.
Even though I have student loans to pay pack, I would never change the education I got. The technical skills, the book skills, the people skills mostly – I’d never trade that for anything. It’s given me a whole new outlook on life – I was a total and complete pessimist before I went to Carrington. I had no ambition, no motivation, but now I want to inspire people to go forward with their education and with what they really want to do in life.
We asked Patrice for some advice for students studying in the Veterinary Technology program now, and those of you considering enrolling in a veterinary technician program, either with us or at another school.
I’ve encountered a lot of students who try the program and realize they don’t have enough time for it. The program does take up a lot of your time, but it is worth it in the end. I have recommended Carrington to several people because of the success that I’ve experienced. I would advise people who are in the program already to stick with it – to prove to everybody that you love animals and are prepared to put the work in. Don’t take your education for granted, or underestimate the importance of the education you’re getting – Just loving animals isn’t enough.
For comprehensive consumer information on our Veterinary Technology program, please visit carrington.edu/degrees/veterinary-technician/
^Carrington College California prepares students to take appropriate certification and licensure exams related to their individual majors. The College does not guarantee graduates will successfully pass these exams or be certified or licensed as a result of completing the program.