‘Surprise Yourself,” says Graduating Student, Neidi Damian Rodriguez, from Portland’s Veterinary Assisting Program

Veterinary Assisting Program Graduate Neidi Damian RodriguezNeidi has always loved animals. Ever since she was a child, Neidi wanted to be a veterinarian. She was drawn to animals because she saw something beautiful and special in the way animals formed a bond with humans. In our interview she spoke in a kind, gentle voice. I realized there was a unique pace to our talk; it was slow and calm. She was not so nervous as she was present. I was about to hear a story of how she met her challenges to get through Carrington College’s Veterinary Assisting program with the same calm, quiet strength, and proved to herself she had what it took to make her dream come true.

Neidi was born and raised in Portland in a Mexican family. When asked about her younger years, she paused, and said, “It was rough; my parents had hard times paying the bills. Being the oldest, I had to baby sit my five other siblings a lot because they worked so much.” The first four years after high school, Neidi dog-sat her cousin’s dog, babysat, and worked in a factory that processed and packaged fruit.  Despite her work life, she kept her dream alive. Her parents knew her desire was to go to Veterinary school; so, despite their economic challenges, they encouraged her to pursue it. It was hard work, and there were times when life interrupted her studies and she was challenged to keep up.

That’s when she surprised herself. She pushed herself by remembering why she was doing it in the first place. She connected with her desire to succeed.

This is her story.

When did you start the Veterinary Assisting program and when are you graduating?

I started in June 2023 and I’m graduating this month.

What was it about the Veterinary Assisting program you liked the best?

The instructors!  Since the very beginning they were so encouraging to me and others to keep going. I think that was the most outstanding thing I saw. How they were so supportive.

I understand you made very good grades in the program. What do you attribute that to?

I always kept in mind this was a dream of mine. I was pursuing the career I wanted, always keeping it in the back of my mind – why I’m working so hard. That’s what pushed me. I lost a lot of sleep! Especially before the finals; I would stay up – not cramming, but I would keep studying just to keep it fresh in my mind.

I also understand you were helpful to other students in your class. Tell me about that.

I think being in it together, we really connected. And of course, I wanted to help them. Now we’re great friends.

What’s the most important thing you learned about yourself while you’ve been in the Veterinary Assisting program?

I surprised myself, surprised myself by how much I could push myself. I would self-motivate – that was new, that was what I learned about myself. If I talk to myself in a positive way, I push myself even more to pursue what I want to do in life.

How has your externship been?

My externship is at Gresham Animal Hospital in Portland. The supervisor is really sweet and I’m really connected with the team. They were very patient with me as I was learning. I shadowed the other assistants and got to handle or restrain animals, do blood draws and run blood tests, do urine analysis, clean surgical instruments… Then I witnessed a C-section, which is a procedure done to remove the puppies from a mother’s uterus. I got to help revive the puppies after the birth because the mother was under anesthesia. I had never experienced anything like that!

Wow – you’ve jumped into it! Is there a job after school for you there?

Unfortunately, they’re not hiring right now; but my supervisor from Gresham helped me contact another hospital down the street called Mt. Hood Pet Clinical. I’ve been interviewed and now I’m waiting.

Good luck. Sounds like the folks at Gresham want to help you succeed too. Once you have your job, what are your plans for the next five, ten years?

I’d like to work for a few years, get some experience, and earn enough money so I can pursue more education as a Veterinary Technician.

Is there anyone you would like to thank for getting you here?

First of all my family, including my sisters and brothers. And my teachers; I worked with Ms. Jules most of the course until my externship and then I worked with Ms. Stacey.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to students reading this article? Any advice?

Just keep going. Don’t let your flaws get in the way. Be grateful for the help, and stay positive.

Congratulations on your success and pursuing the career you love!

Thank you.

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