Graduate Q&A with Veterinary Technology Graduate Carolina Garcia
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am 32 years old. I got a little bit of a late start on school. I grew up in a small town in California called Escalon. Modesto is maybe 20-30 minutes away from there. It’s a really small town and there’s not much to do there. There is one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school. Everybody knows each other. I’m a small-town girl. I grew up around a lot of agriculture, large animals, and farmland.
Most of my life I worked for my dad. He has a car dealership. So, I did a lot of sales and I helped with a lot of inventory and stuff like that. I was very active working with my dad always, even if I had another job at the time. For a long time, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I was kind of lost in that area. And you know that question when you’re a kid, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ I would always say that I wanted to be a veterinarian and then life just happened, time passed, and I didn’t pursue that.
How did you decide on becoming a vet tech?
One thing that is important to know about me is I was always really close with my grandparents—they were like my parents to me—and my grandfather he fell sick. I grew up riding horses. I grew up on their ranch. They had animals. That was my thing. That was our bonding thing, my grandpa and me. He was sick for about five years. And then he ended up passing.
One day, I just asked myself this question, ‘when was the last time you were really happy?’ I knew I needed a career. I knew I needed to go to school. I knew I wanted more out of life, but I had no idea what that career was. And so, I went back to when I was a kid, and I was with my grandpa. We would ride horses. We would feed the animals. We would be on the ranch.
I didn’t even know vet techs existed and then I saw this ad about them and then it was just like this light when off. ‘I want to be a vet tech!’ And so, as much as I would love to be a veterinarian, it’s a lot of work, school, time, and effort. That’s not to say I couldn’t do it. I was just thinking that becoming a vet tech would be a nice, shorter career path that I would enjoy. Here I am today—I graduated from Carrington in May of 2020 and I’ve been working at Sweet River Equine Clinic Inc. ever since.
When did you decide to pursue your career as a vet tech?
It was three years ago. I went back and forth with an admissions counselor for a while because I wasn’t ready. I thought maybe I was too old to go back to school. I think I was a little nervous and maybe scared. It was finally the third or fourth time that I went in when the counselor showed me it had been a year since the first time that I had gone to see him. So, we had a chat and created a plan.
What would you say was your favorite part of the program?
The support, because it is so helpful and limitless, and then the hands-on aspect. Students and teachers would bring animals in. We had the lab. Everything was hands-on. I really liked that. That’s how I learn. You can explain something to me or show me a book one-hundred times, but I won’t learn it until I do it.
What would you say was the most challenging part of school?
I used to see my friends struggling with school, all stressed out, and I’d say, ‘I’ll trade you any day.’ I took that back one hundred times once I started going to school! It is not easy at all. School takes a lot of effort and dedication. If you miss too many days at school, and miss homework, you will be completely lost. It was tough.
Were you working when you were in school?
Yes, I ended up getting hired on at Carrington as a student aid. So, I was in the library assisting students and I had the ability to study during my downtime and do my own stuff, which was amazing. You could say, I was literally there morning, noon, and night! In the morning, I was there working, and, in the nighttime, I was there for class.
Did you ever want to quit when you were in school?
Multiple times. I am blessed to have a lot of good people in my life who would listen, and I’d vent a little. But at the end of the day, I just wanted to get through it, so I stuck with it.
Was there an instructor who made an impact on you?
Amy Able was our main instructor. We had other instructors who came in for specific things, but her and the doctor on site were pretty much our main instructors. I owe it to all of them, but if she saw me having a hard time personally or academically, she would pull me aside to talk. She was an amazing teacher and always made time for us. I don’t think I would have passed if she wasn’t my teacher to be honest.
Please tell me more about your current work with equine’s.
From Day One I knew I wanted to work with equines but it’s hard to get in with them. For one, because there aren’t very many equine vets in the area. And two, because of the liability. Carrington provides us with insurance, but they are large animals and if you don’t have the experience, there is still fear of you getting hurt. Safety is one of the main things in that field. Obviously, my first term, I wasn’t getting in. Second term and third term, I almost gave up on it. And then 4th term, Miss Able called me on the phone and said, “Guess what, I just got you into Sweet River!”
I was nervous my first day, but everyone was warm and welcoming. I loved it so much! So, I did my 4th term rotation there and asked them if I could do my 5th term externship there and they said yes. There was a gap in between the 4th and 5th term, and they gave me the option to volunteer during that time if I wanted to. So, I did. I ended up getting hired on after school. I work one-on-one with the doctors there. We are always consulting with each other. I’m listening to everything they have to say. I’ve been learning every single day so much.
Do you have any advice for people interested in becoming vet techs?
Be dedicated and if you want to do it, just go for it. Another big thing that is important about being a vet tech is being able to take feedback because not all practices do things the same way. Also, they are going to do some things different than the ways you were taught. There are doctors who have their preferences. So, listening to feedback is important. It’s also important to keep learning and stay openminded.