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Vet Set Go Hosts Essay Contest for Young Students

In addition to veterinary school, Auburn University offers many veterinary programs for young middle and high school students. An organization called Vet Set Go has created a contest to give three college kids the chance to attend Auburn’s vet camp with full scholarships.

“We have three levels of camp. We have junior, we have high school, then we have advanced, which is for high school seniors,” said Melinda Camus, associate dean for academic affairs at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. “We offer the junior camp for 45 students, 40 for the senior camp and 15 for the advanced camp. And we have three of the junior camp spots available for Vet Set Go Scholars.”

Auburn’s veterinary camps provide students with the opportunity to learn skills in science, veterinary medicine, and surgery, as well as hands-on experience with animals. The camp lasts one week and would normally cost $875 for students without a Vet Set Go scholarship.

“So students can do a lot of things,” Camus said. “They spend time in the anatomy lab. They learn about bones and how to dissect them. They spend time in the histology lab or in the parasitology lab learning to look at things under a microscope. They can also spend time caring for animals.

Vet Set Go is an organization originally created fifteen years ago. Chris Carpenter created Vet Set Go to guide young minds in their quest to become a veterinarian.

Carpenter said statistically many kids want to be vets and they know it at a very young age. However, young children between the ages of 10 and 12 are not aware of the resources available to them. Vet Set Go connects aspiring vets with the resources to gain vital experience as well as the opportunity to see what a vet does.

“I knew I wanted to start an organization whose purpose was to first tell a kid, we want you to be in our profession, but then show them how to gain experience,” Carpenter said. “There are so many ways a budding vet can explore their dream, and I created Vet Set Go to show them how.

Additionally, Carpenter shared that when he was a young, aspiring vet, there weren’t as many resources or vet camps to gain experience. This has changed dramatically over the past 15 years and its goal is to help young children take advantage of these new opportunities.

“This camp is for sixth, seventh and eighth graders. They basically go away for a week and do different activities in vet school with vet students as advisors, taking them through all sorts of things like exploring science in areas like parasitology and pathology,” a Carpenter said “They learn how to do physical exams, they learn how to handle exotic animals, they have a whole exotic animal section, and they go out to the barn and learn.”

During this camp, students can have a very practical experience and learn a lot about their future profession at a very young age. However, not everyone can attend this camp. The general application process through Auburn University is very competitive.

“Every person who applies submits a letter of reference, they submit a personal statement where they basically explain why they want to be a vet, they either submit their grades or a transcript. Usually, for junior high students, these are just their most recent grades. And so they upload that information and then provide us with personal information through a Qualtrics link. And then the nominations are ranked according to a rubric that scores each of those things,” Carpenter said.

Not only is the application process competitive, but the camp can also be quite expensive. This is where Vet Set Go stepped in to create their own competition to give more kids the opportunity to attend this camp with a full scholarship.

For the scholarship opportunity, there are three winners. Each candidate must write an essay based on one of three quick writing suggestions.

“What we’re really looking for is you just telling your story,” Carpenter said. “When we guide them, we say, for example, tell us why you want to be a veterinarian. Or tell us what you think you will do as a veterinarian. What made you want to become one? you animals? These are some of our best stories. We have people telling how they discovered this passion for animals and then also what they did to explore it… it’s not about really to have my curriculum vitae of five years of activities.

Based on this essay, three applicants are selected from thousands to attend Auburn’s Junior Vet Camp for free.

Carpenter believes it’s important for all aspiring vets to attend camps like this to gain unique experiences.

“They were doing things that I swear I hadn’t done until I was a vet student,” Carpenter said.

Application for the Vet Set Go Scholarship opened on March 1 and will close on March 31 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

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