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Vet Set Go holds essay contest for young students

<p>Vet Set Go was created by Chris Carpenter for aspiring vets</p>

Vet Set Go was created by Chris Carpenter for aspiring vets

Along with the Veterinary School, Auburn University offers many veterinarian programs for young middle schoolers and high school students as well. An organization called Vet Set Go has created a competition to give three middle schoolers the chance to attend Auburn's Vet Camp on a full scholarship.

“We have three levels of the camp. We have junior, we have high school, and then we have advanced, which is for seniors in high school," said Melinda Camus, associate dean of Academic Affairs at the 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 seats in the junior camp available for the Vet Set Go scholarship recipients.” 

The Auburn veterinary camps offer students the opportunity to learn skills in science, veterinary medicine and surgical practices as well as a hands-on experience with animals. The camp is a week long and would normally cost students $875 without a scholarship from Vet Set Go.

“​​So students get to do a lot of things," Camus said. "They spend some time in the anatomy lab. They get to learn about bones and how to dissect. They spend some time in the histology lab, or in the parasitology lab learning how to look at things through a microscope. They also get to spend some time doing animal handling.” 

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

Carpenter expressed that statistically many children want to become veterinarians and they know this at a very young age. However, young kids between the ages of 10 and 12 are not aware of the resources available to them. Vet Set Go connects aspiring veterinarians with the necessary resources in order to gain vital experience as well as the opportunity to see what a veterinarian does.

“I knew that I wanted to create an organization whose whole purpose was to first say to a child, we want you to be in our profession, but then show them how to get experience," Carpenter said. "There's just so many ways that an aspiring veterinarian can explore their dream, and I created Vet Set Go to show them how.” 

Furthermore, Carpenter shared that when he was a young aspiring vet there were not nearly as many resources, or veterinary camps to gain experience. This has changed drastically in the last 15 years and it is his goal to help young children take advantage of these new opportunities.

“This camp is for sixth, seventh and eighth graders. They basically go for a week and they go do different activities at the veterinary school with veterinary students as their counselors, taking them through all kinds of things like exploring science in areas such as parasitology, and pathology," 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." 

At this camp students are able to have a very hands-on 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.

“Each person who applies, submits a letter of reference, they submit a personal statement where they basically talk about why they want to be a veterinarian, they submit either their grades or a transcript. Usually, for junior high students, it's just their most recent grades. And so they upload that information and then provide us some personal information through a Qualtrics link. And then the applications are ranked based on 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 has stepped up to create their own competition in order to give more children the opportunity to attend this camp on full scholarship.

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

“What we really are looking for is for you to just tell 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 things you think you will do as a veterinarian. What inspired you to become one? Why do you love animals? Those are some of our best stories. We have people telling stories about how they first discovered this passion for animals, and then also what they've done to explore it…it's not really all about having my five year long resume of activities.”

Based on this essay three applicants are selected out of thousands to attend the Auburn Junior Vet Camp completely for free.

 Carpenter believes that it is important for all aspiring veterinarians to attend camps like this one in order to gain unique experiences.

“They were doing things that I swear I didn't do until I was actually a veterinary student,” Carpenter said.

The application for the Vet Set Go scholarship opened on March 1 and will close on March 31 at 11:59pm EST. 

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