Texas Tech University

Veterinary Students’ Perspective in Building Community

Sarah-Cate Hyde and Karling Graves

October 25, 2023

Group Students Taking a Photo

The first week the Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo opened its doors to the inaugural class, our dean, Guy Loneragan, told us we would play a large part in determining the culture and legacy of the school. He told us there would be times things would be tough and there would be roadblocks ahead. He also told us we could be a part of something bigger in the veterinary industry and could revolutionize the standard veterinary educational model. From day one, every student knew there were both challenges and rewards ahead of us. 

There are things about being a student in a new program no one can really prepare you for. For example, things like having to lay the foundation for student organizations and creating the vision of what we want these clubs to look like and provide to our program. Also, things like trial-and-error teaching methods from our professors, last minute schedule changes and many other unforeseen hurdles. As a student, the idea of creating something like a student club from scratch was a daunting thought that felt like an overwhelming task to add onto the responsibilities of being a veterinary student. Fortunately, our program has an amazing team of faculty and staff who have always been receptive to feedback and willing to empathize with the position of its students.

Sarah-Cate Hyde

I am Sarah-Cate Hyde, a third-year veterinary student. I remember in our first semester, faculty asked the class of 2025 for volunteers to help write the bylaws for the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine's Student Chapter of American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA). In fact, this was the first club to form at our school. I think I had Googled “how to write bylaws” at one point after being one of multiple students' names pulled out of a hat to contribute to this project. 

Prior to the SAVMA bylaws, I had never written anything like this in my life. I had no idea where to begin. With time and lots of support and advice, my peers and I finalized a draft of SAVMA bylaws that laid the foundation for other student clubs to get up and running. Situations like this come up all the time in the veterinary school experience at a new program. Is it a challenge? Most certainly. But the moment that everything comes together is more rewarding because it is something we all take ownership of. It brings unity to our school and builds an environment that people are proud to be a part of.

Everyone loves to talk about the extensive nature of our clinical skills labs as it's what makes our school different from other programs. However, what really sets the School of Veterinary Medicine apart, in my opinion, is the community we have within these four walls and throughout the states of Texas and New Mexico. It's through the tough, frustrating times that I see our community really come together for a solution, and in that process, we bond together as a family. 

Karling Graves

I am Karling Graves, a second-year student at the School of Veterinary Medicine. When I received the call that I was admitted into Texas Tech University's School of Veterinary Medicine, I was beside myself with joy. I was one step closer to my childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian to benefit the lives of animals and people. One of the things I wasn't expecting, however, was learning how to live in the Panhandle. 

As a girl from the city of Austin, this was a big transition for me. I was used to trees and humidity and now I'm in a city that has real-life tumbleweeds and dust storms. I felt like I had walked onto the set of one of the western movies my mom watches on TV. But while I was exploring my new city, I found the beauty of the Great Plains and its people. In Amarillo, people are always there to greet you with a friendly smile and a cheerful “Hello!”

This was only compounded by the community being built here at the School of Veterinary Medicine. Anybody who has entered through the iconic Spanish arches into the main hall at our Amarillo Campus has never known a stranger. Staff, faculty, and students alike have fostered an environment where we learn and grow together with all opinions regarded as equal. The students who attend this school aren't only receiving a veterinary education, but also a lesson on the personality of the Panhandle being reflected in the community. There truly is no better place to be a veterinary student. 

Many people describe the veterinary school experience as “drinking water from a firehose” and living “crisis to crisis.” At the School of Veterinary Medicine, they call us “trailblazers.” Each individual student, in every class, is a part of helping build something that's never been done before. The way the curriculum is set up is unlike any other veterinary school program out there, which makes our community proud. And while being a part of a new veterinary program is no easy feat, it has, however, been one of the most rewarding experiences.