First-year veterinary student Jacqueline Harrison of Whitehorse, Yukon. Photo: Debra Marshall.

Volunteer work prepped Yukon vet student

Jacqueline Harrison has always been intrigued by wildlife — an attraction that she attributes to her experiences growing up in Whitehorse as well as working at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.

But it was her volunteer work at Elk Lake Veterinary Hospital in Victoria, B.C., that convinced her to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.

"Dr. Geoff Gaunt and the staff [at Elk Lake Veterinary Hospital] were very welcoming and passionate about veterinary medicine, and they were always willing to answer my questions," said Harrison.

"It was an amazing learning environment and a clear introduction to the veterinary profession that hugely impacted my life and my goals."

Harrison clearly remembers the day in June 2014 when she learned that she'd been accepted into the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM).

"After such a long waiting process and years of picturing that exact moment, I probably read the acceptance letter 10 times to be absolutely certain I'd been accepted," said Harrison, who began her veterinary program in late August.

"I didn't tell anyone until later that night, but I spent the remainder of the day constantly smiling from ear to ear."

Harrison's love for sports is another important influence that's been an integral part of her life. As a member of the University of Victoria's Vikes soccer team for five years, Harrison learned about time management while balancing her role of varsity athlete with that of an undergraduate student intent on earning a Bachelor of Science degree in biology.

"As a Vikes team member, I learned to be personable, professional and respectful of others while working in a team environment," said Harrison, who points to small animal surgery as a potential interest for her future.

"My involvement in sports has always been a key component of my personality, and I've learned important skills that I'll use at the WCVM and in my career as a veterinarian."

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