Texas Tech University

Student Perspective: Receiving a World-Class Education

Naila Garcia

November 17, 2022

Naila Garcia practicing her skills in her Clinical and Professional Skills class

Naila Garcia is in her first semester and her experience is exceeding expectations as she looks to make a difference in veterinary medicine.

Our school's purpose is simple. It is to serve the needs of rural and regional communities. This purpose aligns with my values. Coming from a small town, I have witnessed firsthand the need for veterinarians. Coming from this background has strengthened my passion for this career because, as a veterinarian, I want to come back and answer the need in my community. To say that Texas Tech University's  School of Veterinary Medicine has met this standard is an understatement; they are breaking barriers and setting new standards for what a veterinary school should be. 

I wanted to be a veterinarian for as long as I can remember and it has been quite a journey! The best part was receiving the call that I was accepted into Texas Tech's veterinary program. It's a phone call I will cherish for the rest of my life. It is not often that a professor, who is also the senior associate dean for academic and student affairs, personally calls you to congratulate and welcome you into the incoming veterinary class. I felt so honored! The knowledge that I had put my whole heart into an application and then learning I got accepted was the greatest validation I could have received. It was in that moment I knew I was where I belonged. This alone shows how passionate my school is about students and how they lead by example in creating an environment that truly feels like family.  

As I was preparing to come to Amarillo to start my first year of veterinary school, I spoke with current veterinary students and veterinarians about their experiences. I was warned about the information overload, the difficulty of anatomy class and the never-ending test jitters. Most had wonderful experiences and loved their time in school, and listening to their stories only made me more excited and built my expectations of what veterinary school would be like at Texas Tech. However, I did not expect how close-knit and inviting the environment is or, more importantly, how amazing everyone at the school is. It is so refreshing to see how open the faculty and staff are to having conversations with the students, whether it is about class, labs, sports, baking, weather or the fact that tarantulas migrate during the month of September! I have enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people, and the best part is that everyone makes an effort to remember you. We spend eight to nine hours together each day, five days a week, and we've all become very familiar with one another. I guess it takes a Texas Tech village to raise upcoming veterinarians. 

To continue boasting about how wonderful the staff and faculty here is, my professors are absolutely phenomenal. Every professor in their own way has shown their undoubted passion for their class; you can see it in the way they teach and when they are helping us to understand. The best part of our professors is that they don't only prepare us to take the exams, they prepare us for real-world experience. Applying what I learn in my classes to real-world scenarios has enabled me to draw on previous experiences, think critically about the information and tangibly put it to work. Having professors who are molding us into competent veterinarians has helped me feel more confident as a veterinary student. 

Coming into veterinary school, my goal was to be a mixed animal practitioner. I have worked with small animals for most of my academic career but had very little large-animal experience, so I hesitated when asked what I wanted to do after I graduated. A big part of this hesitation stemmed from my limited exposure to large animals and, inevitably, I began to second-guess my career choice. Like most people when they try something for the first time, there is that fear of doing it wrong and no one wants to admit they can't do it. Therefore, when we began to practice our large animal skills, I was surprised at the lack of criticism for my lack of experience. My professors and peers jumped at the opportunity to teach me the skills at a slower pace, provide me with further explanations and help me until I was comfortable with the skill. I was so taken aback by the amount of enthusiasm everyone showed to help one another. Through my many, many questions, my peers and professors have helped me overcome my hesitations about working with large animals, and I couldn't be more grateful. The School of Veterinary Medicine has shown me the highest standard of excellence in education with unmatched compassion, a strong foundation and amazing skills to educate future generations of veterinarians. 

One of my favorite things to do here at school is attending the ‘lunch and learns' hosted by outside corporations such as pet food suppliers, pharmaceutical companies and more. They provide so much information and it allows me another opportunity to apply what I am currently learning to the real world. Our school wants to ensure that we have more than enough hands-on experience using practical skills to feel confident when we step out into the field. My favorite hands-on experience was practicing physical exams on cows. It was the most fun I had in my clinical skills lab. I had no idea that I would be practicing on live animals so soon in veterinary school. I am so fortunate and blessed to be able to have this opportunity here at the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Overall, my experience at Texas Tech has exceeded anything I could have ever expected a veterinary school to be. It is not an exaggeration when they told us that the faculty and staff care about us, your peers become lifelong friends and family, and although it feels like you are drinking from a fire hydrant and at times it may seem impossible, everyone here wants you to succeed.