Meet undergraduate student Kirstin McLeod

Kirstin McLeod
Kirstin McLeod

Kirstin McLeod, third-year pathobiology major on the pre-vet track, cheerfully advocates for her department and major. She serves as a FYE (First Year Experience) mentor for incoming pathobiology freshman, provides tours during the open house, and mentors freshmen and sophomores in the Pre-Vet Club. Her many experiences include working as a necropsy student technician with the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory; as an animal camp educator at Stamford Museum & Nature Center; and as a veterinary clinic assistant at two local clinics; and interning at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk. McLeod is looking forward to spring break 2018, when she will volunteer with World Vets, working at clinics in the Dominican Republic. Read more about Kirstin’s experiences as a UConn student.

What attracted you to UConn? One of the main reasons I attended UConn was to experience what it was like living outside of a city. I had grown up and lived in a city my entire life, so choosing to come to school at UConn has been a refreshing and new experience. I love the campus and the surrounding area. I also get to work with animals that I have never been able to work with before, such as the livestock on campus. It also helps that I live in Connecticut, so attending an in-state school relieves some of the stress of tuition and loans.

Why did you choose your particular major? I had known since high school that I wanted to become a veterinarian, but I actually applied to the school as a psychology major, since I was still a bit unsure. I attended the animal science tour for admitted students, and on a brochure noticed the pathobiology and veterinary science major. I learned that it was a small major that had numerous opportunities for its students to get involved in research, and that was all it took. I requested to switch majors before my first semester.

Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? Being an FYE mentor has definitely been an incredible experience. Unlike most sections, pathobiology actually groups together their FYE section by major, so I was able to mentor freshman and transfer pathobiology majors. Helping them with opportunities within the major, class choices and the UConn experience overall has been incredibly rewarding and has helped me realize that maybe later on I would like to go back into academia to teach/mentor students.

Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. I work in the Connecticut Medical Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to assist veterinarians with necropsies of all kinds of animals. This experience helps me with anatomy and has made me realize veterinarians don’t just have to work in clinics treating dogs and cats. I also was a herdsman for UConn’s Little I in the poultry section and taught students taking Intro to Animal Science all about handling poultry.

What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? My biggest challenge has definitely been time management. I am a very social person who loves to meet new people and make new friends, and when I came here I had to learn to balance social time with study time. I have developed many strategies to overcome the lack of time management freshman year, such as keeping an agenda and scheduling my days out with study blocks.

 When do you expect to graduate? What then? I expect to graduate in May 2019. Afterwards, I hope to attend veterinary school for four years to become a veterinarian. I am unsure of exactly what type of veterinarian I would like to become, but I have years to decide!

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I am completely fascinated with the ocean and marine animals. Had I not been interested in practicing medicine, I would have majored in marine biology. I interned at the Maritime Aquarium this past summer and learned so much about the husbandry and quirks of more than a hundred animals. My favorite animal has to be the mantis shrimp, a colorful shrimp so strong its punch can shatter glass!

By Kim Colavito Markesich