How to Become a Vet Tech: Fall in Love with a Dog. Hear from Veterinary Technology Grad Student Jose Gomez and how his Career Unfolded!
Jose Gomez wanted to be a Mechanical Engineer when he entered a community college in Pleasant Hill. But after one course he realized it wasn’t for him. So now he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. He began to drift – taking jobs at a sandwich shop, and working as a delivery driver. His parents got worried. He told his parents he wanted a dog – but not a Husky because they were too much to handle. They surprised him with a dog – a Husky named Suki. He couldn’t help it; he fell in love with her. This is Jose’s story, how the love and care of his dog, who died young of a heart condition, gave back to Jose his own life and career as a Vet Tech.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve lived in the East Bay my entire life. I was born in the John Muir hospital in Concord and grew up in Pittsburg. Both my parents are from Mexico. My mom immigrated here when she was 6 and my dad when he was a teenager. I also have an older sister. We’re a pretty tight-knit family.
Have you always been interested in Veterinary work?
No, not at all. At first, I wanted to be a Mechanical Engineer. But a professor at another college really laid out for me what it would be like and I realized I didn’t want to major in it. I didn’t know what else I wanted to do. I was struggling, working different jobs. So my parents gave me a dog named Suki. I had asked for a dog but said I didn’t want a Husky because they were too much to handle. They gave me one anyway and I really fell in love with her. While I was looking around for another career, I was taking care of her. She started having these fainting spells. I took her to the vet and he recommended a specialist. I found out Suki had a heart condition; her heart was three times the normal size. I had to prepare for the worst; she could live a long life or she could go to sleep one night and not wake up the next morning. I couldn’t take her on walks anymore, so I took her on car rides. She loved exploring all over, sticking her head out the window, and watching everything.
Were you working then?
At the time I was attending a college in Pittsburg, in a Process Technology program. I was still trying to find some kind of technical work that I would be happy at. Suki died when she was only 2 ½ years old. I realized, a long time after she was gone, that my experience with her, dealing with her diagnosis and everything, had led me to become a Veterinary Technician. About five months after she died, I found out about Carrington College. I wanted to work with animals, to help other dogs. When I did research on the Veterinary Technology program, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I did a quick Google search and before I knew it, I was talking to Patty from the Admissions department at Carrington. I enrolled that day! I left Medanos on August 4, 2020 and started at Carrington that November.
How would you describe the Carrington culture?
Very supportive. They really strive to make sure you succeed. But you really need to be sure you want to go there because the challenges will come no matter what and you have to get through them. You can’t blow it off.
When things got challenging at school, what did you do to help yourself get through?
My main thing was to recognize when things were a struggle. I tried to keep my perspective on things positive and to accept whatever happens.
Is there an instructor or staff member you’d like to give a shout-out to?
Mrs. Laurie Yip helped with clinical rotation placement during the four terms she was teaching my class. Now she’s in full charge of it and did help teach 5th term as well. I also want to mention Dr. Weaver, who is our main veterinarian for the Veterinary Technology program at Pleasant Hill and now teaches the 5th term classes.
Where are you now?
I’m at East Hills Veterinary Hospital. I was offered a job three weeks after my 4th term rotation there, and continued to work through my externship as well. I started working there in February of this year.
What’s the best part of being a Vet Tech? What do you look forward to?
Definitely being able to help sick, injured animals get better. It brings comfort and joy in my heart to see them doing better and to know you had a small part in it. I’ve heard that Vet Techs can open their own practice. Someday I’d like to buy a huge plot of land and use it to take care of elderly dogs.
Do you miss Suki?
The same year Suki died, my parents surprised me with another dog as a Christmas gift.
She’s a Siberian Husky/Samoyed mix named Kyoshi. She’s mostly white with some light brown markings. She is 100% a drama queen and extremely vocal! My parents told me Kyoshi’s Mom is a pure-bred Husky and that she looks exactly like Suki did: mostly black with white legs and paws and icy blue eyes.