Texas Tech University

A Passion for Animals, a Desire to Serve People and a Love for Science

Weston Brooks

October 18, 2023

Stephanie helping a cat

This veterinary student is eager to serve the small animal needs of West Texas and is ready to become a leader in her community.

From the moment Stephanie Ledesma saw her first animal, she immediately fell in love with caring for animals. She grew up in El Paso, Texas but spent large amounts of her time in Lubbock, Texas where she attended Texas Tech University

After working with veterinary clinics in both El Paso and Lubbock, Ledesma saw there was an important need to serve the small animal veterinary needs of West Texas. She also recognized that she could be part of the solution in removing the language barrier commonly seen with Spanish speaking clients.

Ledesma is now in her second year of training at Texas Tech University's School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo. She is actively involved with several clubs and a valued member of the school's admissions committee. 

She is a first-generation student and on her way to become the first doctor in her family. Let's get to know Stephanie Ledesma through a series of questions. Stephanie helping a dog

What are you passionate about in veterinary medicine?

While I am interested in gaining as much experience as possible in all fields, I currently find myself most passionate about small animal medicine. More specifically, I have a strong interest in the diagnostic imaging aspect of the field. At my workplace prior to veterinary school, I earned the opportunity to become a trained ultrasound technician, certified to perform abdominal ultrasounds and echocardiograms. My role was to obtain the necessary images and submit each case to a veterinary radiologist. I found myself learning from every case to understand how the images reflected the patient's diagnosis and prognosis. This aspect of veterinary medicine sparked my interest to further develop my skills in all aspects of diagnostic imaging because I recognize how extremely vital these tools are when it comes to great patient care. 

How did you find your passion in veterinary medicine?

Growing up, I was the child in my family that spent as much time as possible with every animal in sight. I can't recall there being a specific moment when I knew veterinary medicine was my calling. It has simply been an innate desire. I have always had an interest in animals, a desire to serve others, and a passion for science; veterinary medicine is a beautiful integration of those elements. Moreover, every day I spend with my future colleagues at the School of Veterinary Medicine, I am gratefully reminded that I am pursuing the career that is meant for me.  

How do you plan to go back and help your community?Stephanie practicing her skills

There are two cities in Texas that hold a special place in my heart. I loved growing up in El Paso, Texas. My family still lives there and it is also where I worked my first job as a veterinarian technician. Later, I spent about eight years in Lubbock where I met my husband and got to hone in on veterinary experiences while attending Texas Tech. These regions are just two of many in Texas that are in need of veterinarians. Following graduation, I plan to return to either city to fulfill the needs of the community as a small animal veterinarian. 

I believe that the need for bilingual veterinarians is crucial to these regions as well, so I am eager to serve my future Spanish speaking clients without language as a barrier. 

In my spare time, I plan to work with veterinarians at local shelters and at low-cost spay and neuter clinics. I recognize the tremendous role those veterinarians face helping their community, and I hope to provide them some relief as often as I can.

What are you part of at the School of Veterinary Medicine?

I am a member of the Companion Animal Club and Food Animal Club at the School of Veterinary Medicine. In these organizations I have had opportunities to learn about unique topics from veterinary professionals, practice hands-on skills through wet labs, and get involved in the Amarillo community through volunteer events. One of my favorite wet labs involved learning case management techniques from Dr. Mahon, a board-certified critical care specialist.

I am also the Class of 2026 Student Representative on the School of Veterinary Medicine's Admissions Committee. In this role, I am able to weigh in on different aspects of the application process, interview process, and the selection of prospective students. I, along with two other students on the committee, bring a unique perspective to the table. Stephanie working with horses

Why did you choose Texas Tech?

I chose the School of Veterinary Medicine for a multitude of reasons. First, receiving my education in a region that I plan to eventually practice in opens up many opportunities to gain experience and learn from veterinarians that could be my future employers. Also, as a first-generation student, the affordability of my veterinary education was a concern. Learning that the low cost of tuition is a topic this school strives for made my decision that much easier. Lastly, I chose to attend this school to be a part of something bigger than myself. It is such an honor and unique opportunity to establish traditions and pave the way for the many future Red Raider veterinarians to come. 

What are your favorite things to do outside of school?

I enjoy all things outdoors, including hiking and running. Fortunately, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is only a short drive away and is a perfect study break to enjoy time outside with beautiful views. I also completed my first half marathon last year, and I hope to keep it an annual tradition for years to come.

Tell us a little bit about your family. How has the culture you grew up around influenced you to be the person you are today?

My parents, like me, were born and raised in El Paso, Texas. My grandparents and great grandparents came from several parts of Mexico, including Basuchi and Chihuahua. I am proud to have grown up in a Hispanic household where traditions and values are held to high standards. I believe my culture has taught me to place a strong emphasis on family and close-knit communities, which is exactly what the School of Veterinary Medicine strives for as well. I also have my parents to thank for my strong work ethic that led me to be a first-generation college graduate, and the first future doctor of our entire family.

What is one thing that you miss from your family or cultural traditions?

Simply put, I miss spending time with my family at all of the gatherings we had, big or small. It was rare that there was ever a weekend not filled with a cousins' birthday party or football cookout. We also have many traditions that revolve greatly around food, especially around this time of year. I miss spending Saturday mornings at my Grandma's house making tamales by the dozen with family and making her specialty bizcochito cookies (a traditional Mexican cinnamon sugar cookie). My family is extremely important to me and I cherish the times that I can make extra trips home to spend with them.