Graduate Q&A with Veterinary Technology Graduate Alyssa McAlister
Alyssa McAlister has a degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences, and another in Social Science. She had always had a real passion for helping animals, though, and wanted to pursue a meaningful career with them. She enrolled in the Veterinary Technology program at Carrington College in 2019 and graduated in May of 2021.
“Alyssa was an amazing student from the beginning, and always helping anyone that needed help,” says Amy Abel, RVT, Alyssa’s Veterinary Technology instructor. “I have had the privilege to work with her on a professional level and she is an amazing technician. She is great with the patients, the clients, and has great communication and nursing skills.”
Here, Alyssa shares more about her path to become a Veterinary Technician.
What did you do before you began the Veterinary Technology program?
Before I joined the veterinary program, I was going to Cosumnes River College and Sacramento City College; did half of my first year at CRC and then most of my time was spent at SCC. While being a full-time student, I ran track at SCC for two years and cheered at SCC for three. I graduated with two degrees: one in Social and Behavioral Sciences, and one in Social Sciences.
What made you want to pursue a career in Veterinary Technology?
I decided to pursue a career in veterinary technology because I have always had a passion to work with animals and help them in ways their owners cannot. As a little girl I always wanted to be a veterinarian but as I got older and I looked in the field more, I learned that the technicians do more of the hands-on stuff, which I like doing.
Tell us about your experience in the Veterinary Technology program at Carrington College. What was your favorite part of the program? What were some of the challenges?
My favorite part of the program was being able to make friends that I know I will have for a long time; I also loved the hands-on portion of the classes. I am a hands-on learner, so when it came to doing the labs, I really liked that we were able to do everything ourselves after watching the instructors show us how to do it.
The most challenging part of my program would probably be when we went online and couldn’t be on campus to actually do the work and ask for help. COVID really took that hands-on experience away for half of my schooling. Other than that, I would say trying to find the best studying technique that worked for me was probably the hardest thing during the program.
For the first four terms we had to do internships, which included check offs and a certain number of hours that we needed to complete. My first term I interned at VCA Bradshaw in Elk Grove; my second term, I interned at Animal Hospital in Lodi; my third term I interned at Franklin Ranch Pet Hospital and Hotel in Elk Grove; and my fourth term I interned and was hired on at All Creatures Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Stockton; I decided to do my fifth-term externship at my job at All Creatures in Stockton.
I absolutely believe that this program helped prepare me for being out in the field and doing my job well.
Tell us about your current job. What do you do?
At my current job I do all the things that vet techs do: I draw blood, take X-rays, restrain animals, treat wounds, prepare animals for surgery, and so much more. The best part about being a vet tech is working with the animals—and working with like-minded people who care about animals. Sometimes it can be challenging to work with certain owners, but you just have to stay calm.
Do you have any words of advice for those who might be just starting the program or entering this career?
My advice for anyone entering the veterinary field: This field is fun to be in, but it isn’t about playing with puppies and kittens. It is hard work, and it can be draining, so make sure you make time for yourself. For anyone wanting to join the program or just starting the program, make sure you stay on top of all the work they give you (it’s a lot!). Staying organized will really help you in the long run. And study, study, study!
Is there anyone you would like to mention or recognize from your time at Carrington?
I would like to thank all my teachers at the Stockton campus—Mrs. Abel, Dr. Yee, Mrs. Mejias, and Mrs. McGuire. A special thank you to my head teacher, Ms. Morton: Thank you for always pushing me and always being there when I needed to ask a question, and just for being a great teacher and role model.