Grad Q&A with Veterinary Technology Graduate Samantha Missing

Since she was 7-years old Samantha Missing was on a mission to save and protect as many animals as she could. She and her mom, Marla, would drive around town looking for stray or abandoned dogs and cats who could never have made it on their own. Gutters, trash cans, and railroad tracks were often drop-off places for unwanted and neglected puppies and kittens. Samantha’s autism helped her relate to their silent calls for acceptance and understanding. She heard them, they felt her. The love of animals was not just a calling, it was a career direction for Samantha. She listened and acted on her well-honed animal-saving instincts and the deep love she felt for them.

How did you decide on a career in Veterinary Technology?

Vet Tech was always my direction. I’d had other careers – child actress, model, singer – but animals were always my front line. Six years ago, I found my (now-adopted) cat, Butters who ended up with neurological and spinal issues from abuse. It took me four years to get him walking again. After his rehabilitation I realized I wanted to be a Vet Tech and help animals more directly. Since then, I’ve worked in quite a few doggie day cares, so I knew a lot about general animal care. It had taken me a few years to see if this was really my calling.

Was a college commitment a hard decision for you?

My main issue was my autism. I used to be non-verbal. I thought that if I became a Vet Tech and did the best I could and save a lot of animal’s lives, people would understand that autism is not something that makes me unintelligent.  Without a college degree some people will always see me as an unintelligent person.

What was your Veterinary Technology career education and training plan?

My mom realized that this was a passion of mine, so we went out and researched a bunch of colleges. I took a few General Ed classes, but the wait time at other schools (for Vet Tech programs) was too long. At Carrington College I didn’t have to deal with that. I started in 2017 but wasn’t emotionally mature enough for college and dropped out. I reapplied in 2020 and graduated from the (in as few as) 2-year Veterinary Technology program with a Presidential Achievement award and an Associate degree.

Did you get the support you needed in your program?

My class helped me more by understanding how I am, and they worked out a way for everybody to understand the situation without singling me out. By second term students became more open and friendly and by the end of 4th term everyone had each other’s back. It was definitely one of the best school experiences I’ve had. To this day I’m in touch with almost all of the other students.

Were there any surprises in your Veterinary Technology program?

It was really cool that you go into the program thinking you’re only going to work with cats and dogs, but you get to work with rodents, avians, reptiles and all kinds of farm animals: pigs, alpacas, cows, horses, goats – and even fish! Although it wasn’t part of our curriculum, we got to learn a lot about fish since it was a specialty of our professor. While performing surgeries on fish, they have to stay in water, in a hammock while under anesthesia.

How did exposure to different animal life influence your eventual career choice or specialty?

It gave me other career specialties to explore. First choice is still cats and dogs, second choice is cows, third choice is zoo animals – how cool would it be to clean a tiger’s teeth! And my fourth choice option is being a vet tech for fish. I have a calmer sensory with my love for fish.

What was your greatest struggle in your program?

The hardest thing for me to learn was pharmacology, dealing with medications. It’s a little hard to learn about different drugs, what they’re used for and the side effects. But once I got a hint of what it was used for, that tells you what the side effects might be. It’s just memorizing.

What advice would you give others who might struggle with school?

There will be a lot of times you want to give up, moments when you doubt yourself and it’s frustrating. Give yourself a mental health day, take a nap or sit on the couch and calm yourself. Give yourself time to reconnect, calm your mind. Sometimes just spending a little time with family or friends really helps motivate you to continue going. And let your teachers know. They want you to succeed and they will give you the tools to succeed.

What was your greatest inspiration to complete the Veterinary Technology program?

There was a lot of motivation in proving people wrong – and proving to myself that I could do it. And just knowing that someday I would be saving animals lives beyond just the ones I pick up off the street.

Where did you land once you graduated from your program?

I am Veterinary Assistant for SAGE Veterinary Center, an emergency clinic. It’s front desk since I can’t assist hands-on in animal emergencies until I take (and pass) my Vet Tech National exam in March to become a Licensed Veterinary Technologist. Then I will move from the front desk to the back where we treat all the animals that need medical care.

What kinds of specialties will your Vet Tech license open up for you?

I will decide whether to go into emergency, urgent care, or another specialty like rehabilitation, dentistry, cardiology, oncology, surgery or internal medicine. I’m leaning more towards dentistry. When I was in school I brought my own dog, Poppy, in for an extraction and that was a lot of fun. The professor had a multitude of tools: elevators, wrenches, pliers, and drills. Animals are under anesthesia and it’s fun probing, polishing (teeth) and all that. I definitely see myself staying with emergency medical care. There are so many specialties that I can branch out to whatever area I want.

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