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Veterinary Technology Student has had a Love For Animals Since Growing Up on Grandparents’ Farm

September 16, 2020
Veterinary Technology Student has had a Love For Animals Since Growing Up on Grandparent's Farm

Melissa Yowakim has always loved animals; she has great childhood memories of spending time on her grandparents’ farm with their horses.

“Like so many kids, I wanted to be a vet,” she says. “Then in high school I changed my mind and decided to pursue a job in law enforcement.”

Melissa followed that path, working as a warrants clerk for Contra Costa County for three years and as a Correctional Officer for the Solano County jails for about a year. Once she became a mother, she wanted a schedule that worked better for her family and a career that involved her love of animals. Becoming a Veterinarian Technician was a great match.

“I saw that the upcoming vet tech program at Carrington started in February of 2019,” she says. “My husband said just go for it, you’ll do great! I was so nervous…I didn’t think I would even get in. But now I’m in the final stretch!”

Melissa soon enrolled in the Carrington College Veterinary Technician program in Pleasant Hill and is now entering her fifth and final term.

“Vet techs are like nurses for animals,” she explains. “We take x-rays, draw blood for blood chemistries, provide preventative care, do nail trims, perform dental cleanings under anesthesia, and assist veterinarians when they perform surgeries.”

Melissa is also responsible for administering anesthesia in animal patients, monitoring them while they are under, and caring for the animal during recovery.

“Essentially, Vet Techs are also like anesthesiologists,” she explains.

Melissa has enjoyed all aspects of her program study at Carrington College, from the beginning of the program when she learned the very basics, to the end of the program, when she will be assisting during surgeries. So far, her favorite thing to do is dentistry.

Melissa has learned to embrace and rally through any challenges during her course of study—whether academic or personal. A week before Thanksgiving last year, she underwent carpal tunnel surgery on her right hand. Despite this, she only missed one day of classes and was still able to complete the required 44 hours and stay on track. Her dedication and drive never wavered: when her right arm was still bandaged from surgery, she was tying practice suture knots with her teeth.

“My instructor wanted to me to take it easy,” she says. “But that’s just not who I am when I want something!”

On top of this personal hurdle, of course COVID-19 also affected her course of study—but she will be making that up in her fifth and final term, during her externship.

“We did classes online for the fourth term, and that’s normally when we would have gotten experience in surgery two days a week,” she explains, “But we weren’t able to do that because of COVID.”

Melissa is excited to begin her externship at Sweet River Equine Hospital in Modesto, California. She is thrilled to be working with horses again. There she will gain valuable hands-on experience as an equine vet tech and complete 44 hours of externship plus 4 weeks of making up her surgery hours—for a total of 244 hours in 16 weeks.

“My goal is to be hired there,” she says, “My resume is ready!”

Olivia Hernandez, the Veterinary Technology Program Director, was extremely impressed with Melissa’s performance as student.

“She maintained excellent attendance and an impressive 3.54 GPA, all while being a mother of two young children and missing nine weeks due to surgery,” she says. “She truly stands out as an ideal representation of what a student and veterinary technician should be. We are excited to see her grow and become a valuable Veterinary Technician in the industry.”

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