Texas Tech University

A Veterinary Student’s Passion to Help Animals by Educating People

Weston Brooks

October 4, 2023

Maryana Orduna helping fellow veterinary student

This veterinary student finds that communication with clients is a key component to future success as a veterinarian when returning home to her community.

Maryana Orduña calls both Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico home. She was born in Laredo and would say she spent most of her time in Nuevo Laredo where the majority of her family lives. 

Orduña's world revolves around family, friends, horses, food and, of course, veterinary medicine. In fact, one of her most cherished childhood memories was visiting the family ranch and going horseback riding with her dad on trails all over Nuevo Laredo. 

Ever since she could remember, she has always had a passion for animals. This passion and her incredible story are what led her to Texas Tech University's School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo. 

She is now in her third year of school with hopes of one day returning home to Laredo to play an integral role in her community as a veterinarian. Let's get to know Maryana Orduña through a series of questions.Maryana Orduna Measuring Dog Food

What are you passionate about in veterinary medicine?

I am passionate about helping animals by educating people. My goal is to have outstanding communication with my clients and work as a team to give their pets the best care possible. As I have continued to learn in this journey, I have realized that many of the mistakes I have made as a pet owner have been due to lack of education on the needs and options for my pet. Working as a technician, I saw this was the reality for many pet owners. Everyone wants to do the best for their pet and sometimes we just don't know what is considered the best. That is why I will strive to have great communication with my clients and make sure I educate them well so they can make the best decision for their furry friend. For me, this passion extends across all species as I would like to pursue mixed-animal practice when I graduate.

How did you find your passion in veterinary medicine?

I found my passion thanks to my family, who encouraged me since I was little to respect, care, and love animals. There isn't a specific moment where I decided I wanted to become a veterinarian. This profession is truly all I've ever wanted to be. My earliest memory of knowing I was passionate about veterinary medicine was when five-year-old me dressed up as a veterinarian for career day in a white coat, stethoscope and all. Almost 20 years later, when I got my first job as a veterinary assistant, I knew that kid was right all along.Maryana Learning Equine Skills

What inspires you to pursue what you love to do every day?

When I'm feeling physically tired and mentally drained, my family and friends inspire me to continue pursuing my dream. Their collective words of kindness and encouragement linger in the back of my head throughout the day. I also think back to little me, and her dream to become a veterinarian, whenever I feel like giving up. This helps keep myself on track. Years ago, I did not know whether or not I could get into veterinary school or even how. Now that I am here, I want to make sure those dreams become a reality. Although some days are better than others, learning more about the profession I love and thinking about my family and friends helps me be ready for any long day of learning.Maryana Practicing Surgery Skills

How do you plan to go back and help your community?

My plan of going back home has changed over the past three years that I have been in the School of Veterinary Medicine. At first, I couldn't wait to run back home after graduation and begin practicing in Laredo. Yet, these past couple of years have shown me that there is still a lot to learn about veterinary medicine. I hope, after a few years of practicing in other towns and learning from other great veterinarians and mentors, that I will take all of that knowledge back home. I am open to what the future holds and as a new graduate I want to find a practice where I will have a great mentor and a great sense of community to set myself up for success when I return to Laredo. I hope to contribute to other aspiring veterinarians' education and encourage them to pursue their dream. Additionally, I want to give back to the community that raised me in any way possible. I would like to return and be an active member in the community, help with low-cost vaccine drives for pets, and maybe even be a speaker during career day. I know when I was younger I always hoped for a veterinarian to be our speaker when I was in grade school.Maryana taking photo with another veterinary student

Why did you choose Texas Tech?

My decision to attend Texas Tech was multifactorial. I had not heard about the school until admissions began back in the year of 2020 and did not get a chance to tour before being accepted. But, seeing that there would be a brand-new veterinary school in Texas was very exciting for me. The mission of the school also resonated with me and my goals. I was so happy that more students would be able to continue their education in veterinary medicine and that the school saw the need for more veterinarians in rural and regional areas. I thought to myself, “That's exactly what I want to do.” When I also saw the School of Veterinary Medicine was striving to provide excellent education and affordable tuition, I was even more excited. During my undergraduate years, I had started to worry about whether or not I would be able to afford veterinary school and it terrified me to think that I wouldn't be able to attempt my dream due to financial reasons. Being a part of the inaugural class also seemed like an exciting adventure that I wanted to be a part of. I knew it would be difficult and that I would need to constantly adjust, but I wanted to be a part of the school's success that would shape the program and make new traditions for generations to come.Maryana Taking Photo with Other Veterinary Students

How is it being part of the inaugural class at the School of Veterinary Medicine?

When I received my acceptance call, I was ecstatic. I had been working and missed the initial phone call. I started to listen to the voicemail and when I heard the caller say they were from Texas Tech University's School of Veterinary Medicine, I immediately called back. I had previously been waitlisted, so I was really hoping for the phone call. Once I was able to reach them, we had a nice, small conversation of how my day had been, but all I could think of was, “Just, please tell me I've been accepted.” Words cannot explain how I felt when I was finally accepted. I was overjoyed and couldn't wait to begin this new journey. With that being said, being part of the inaugural class has been tougher than I imagined. It has been a crazy, fun, and exciting roller coaster ride, but the people here truly make it feel like a community. I underestimated how much I would need to study to be successful here, but the information I learn is very interesting. At times, it feels like a puzzle that I need to decipher so it becomes far more interactive than just sitting down and reading lectures. Being in the inaugural class at the School of Veterinary Medicine allowed us to become close with faculty and staff and made the school feel like a home away from home. They are always available for us and are willing to listen and help us which has been a huge factor in making my experience during school unlike any other. Being the inaugural class of the school also feels like we are the older sibling as we get to open doors, help the school learn, and make mistakes. Ultimately, everything helps improve our program and we are able to take an active role in it.

What are your favorite things to do outside of school?

Some of my favorite things to do outside of school when I need a break include playing sports for fun, even though I am terrible at them. In Amarillo, I have found places where I can play racquetball, pickleball, volleyball, and many other sports. My favorite sport to play is volleyball since it involves more people, so we are able to have fun as a group. I enjoy getting out in the sun to clear out my head and relax. I also like going out of town, when possible, to visit new places. But when I'm not feeling like being outside, I like to stay home to clean and cuddle with my cat. Over the weekends, I enjoy cooking, trying new recipes, and sharing these meals with my friends.

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?

Although my grandparents came from all over Mexico and the United States, including Veracruz, Estado de Mexico, Nuevo León, and Texas, my parents were both born in Laredo and raised in Nuevo Laredo. Today, only a few of my close relatives live in Mexico. Thankfully, they are just across the border in Nuevo Laredo, so it is easy to visit them and catch up. I love visiting my grandma and being able to hug her, tell her about my semester, and listen to how she has been the last few months. Seeing my family after months of school is always an emotional time. I had never been away from my family this long, so when I'm finally back, there are always lots of hugs and happy tears. Spending quality time with each other is very important to my family and I, so when I am back home, I love having sleepovers with my siblings, niece, nephew, and cousins. We also like to go to the park and grab a bite to eat at the places we grew up eating at. Thanks to my family and my culture, I have learned the meaning of hard work and that it truly does pay off. My parents have always pushed for us to work hard and have a good work ethic in order to achieve anything we want. My parents and family have led by example by always working hard to provide for us. It is both their hard work and mine that has gotten me to where I am today.

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

I miss my family as a whole. Every birthday, holiday, or special occasion was always turned into a big party. I have such a strong bond with them that I even consider my cousins as brothers and sisters. I miss being surrounded by all of them, laughing, and talking until late at night about anything we could think of. I miss having carnes asadas, or barbecues, with my friends and family in the summer. I miss eating pan dulce (sweet bread) and drinking champurrado or chocolate abuelita when the weather gets colder. During the Christmas break, I can't wait to go home and sit with my tias or aunts as we make tamales for everyone. So much of my culture revolves around food and family, which is why cooking traditional recipes when I am away helps me feel less homesick.