Interview with a Grenada Vet School Student!

 

St. George’s is a fully accredited US college of veterinary medicine on the island of Grenada. As a graduating student, you earn your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree just the same as you would at a stateside school. They have a program called The Foundations Program. In addition to being a bridge between undergrad and vet med, the classes are designed to prepare you for the intense course workload of this US accredited Grenada vet school.

 

If you want to read more about Caribbean Veterinary Schools, check out our comprehensive overview!

Name, veterinary school, and year that you started. 

Brittney Kilgore – St. George’s University. (Grenada vet school) I started the DVM program in the January 2019 class, but I also completed The Charter Foundation program in fall 2018. The Charter Foundation program; designed to help better prepare vet and med students for entry into the veterinary or medical program.

Who are the animals that you currently share your life with?

I currently have a snowshoe-mix cat named Toulouse.

Did you bring any animals down to Grenada? Have you adopted any animals while living on the island?

Yes! Toulouse has come with me every term from the very beginning. I haven’t adopted any animals, but I have fostered 2 kittens, a puppy, and a litter of day-old-kittens.

 

Grenada vet student Brittney Kilgore and a Maine Coon!

Where did you attend undergrad before enrolling in St Georges, the Grenada vet school? What was your major?

I attended the University of Georgia. Initially, my major was poultry science but I was one class off during my last semester that was only offered in the fall. My degree says Biological Sciences but poultry was my focal point. I finished in 3 years.

What is one textbook that you have used the most during your veterinary studies?

I’ll be honest – I haven’t used many textbooks so I don’t want to make something up. But one course that I have referred back to the material more than any other class is physiology.

Cunningham's Textbook of Veterinary Physiology
  • Hardcover Book
  • Klein PhD, Bradley G. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 656 Pages - 03/27/2019 (Publication Date) - Saunders (Publisher)

At what age did you first apply to vet school?

20.

How many schools/application cycles did you apply to before being accepted?

I only applied during 1 cycle. With that being said I applied to 7 schools total and was accepted into 2 (both in the Caribbean).

Were you waitlisted at any school?

Yes, 1 only. (Virginia-Maryland)

How many schools invited you for an interview?

2.

How many of those gave you an acceptance letter?

2. I was accepted into both Ross and SGU.

What were some reasons in your choice to attend SGU the Grenada vet school?

I knew I was going out of the country at this point. Both were in the Caribbean but very different. Ross went to school year-round with small 2-3 week breaks in between each of 3 semesters. SGU had traditional summer and winter breaks. St. George’s has a med school on the island of Grenada, as well as an undergrad/arts & science program. This gave me some reassurance that I would get the big campus feel and student life. A downside of Ross was that the tuition was higher despite the fact that you finish earlier.

Did you consider any of the other Caribbean vet schools? Why or why not?

Ross was a school I applied to and was considering attending. Being first introduced to SGU, and later on, after doing research I learned about Ross. What I figured is if I’d go as far as Grenada, why not consider St. Kitt’s as well. These are both AVMA accredited and had great reviews as well as a great alumni networking system. 

What was your reason for moving to another country to attend SGU?

I’ve ALWAYS wanted to move away from home. I was born and raised in Atlanta, GA, and attended UGA. Initially, I thought I’d go all 8 years at UGA, but the older I got, I realized I was ready to leave Georgia sooner than expected. Honestly, I never expected my first major move from home to be as far as a small island in the Caribbean, but I would do it all over again 100 times over. I also loved the idea of being immersed in a different culture and overcoming adversity in an environment I wasn’t familiar with.

 

Brittney Kilgore a Grenada vet student volunteering at a Wellness clinic.

Do you remember any specifically challenging interview questions?

“If you could describe yourself as any cartoon character, who would it be and why?” I know it’s silly, but typically you’re prepared for questions about your career, what type of medicine you want to practice, why do you want to be a vet, or even where you went wrong in undergrad. I LOVE cartoons and this question threw me. Immediately I  felt conscious that my answer may subtly say something about me. Now I can laugh about it, but that was one I wasn’t prepared for.

“What are your weaknesses?” People are so used to telling why they’re a good applicant, person, etc but many people struggle to notice or admit true weaknesses. I’d say be honest! It’s a good look when you can acknowledge something that may not be the best about yourself.

What was your GPA (in undergraduate)?

2.79 – Yes! It’s possible to get into vet school with a low GPA!

What was your GRE score?

307 cumulative.

Did you apply for vet school after, or during your Bachelor’s education?

During (entering my final year of undergrad)

Did you attend grad school?

No

How many extracurricular activities did you list on your application?

Not many. Honestly, all of the free time I had I spent in the clinic.

Did you have exotic, large, and small animal experience prior to applying to veterinary school?

Yes – domestic exotic, large, and small. I had thousands of hours of small animal experience with one clinic also treating exotics. SGU recommended I obtain about 200 hours of large animal experience before the start of classes so I did this, but technically it was after applying. I now recommend getting as much of a variety of experience as possible!

Did you work as a vet tech?

Yes! Since I was 16

What types of paying jobs did you have before going to veterinary school? Did you volunteer? If so, where?

My first job at 16 was in a vet clinic. Even now as a vet student, the only job I’ve ever had was as a vet tech. One summer I did also work part-time at a doggy daycare for extra spending money, but all of my paying jobs have been in the veterinary field. I volunteered at animal clinics as well.

How many people read your personal statement before submitting it?

2 – my mom and best friend

When did you decide to become a vet?

I’ve wanted to be a vet since I was a little girl. It’s the only dream I’ve ever had.

Did you interview any vets before starting the application process? 

No

Were you a member of any clubs at your undergraduate school? If so, which ones?

No

Have you joined any student clubs in your DVM program? If so, which ones? Are they helpful?

I’ve joined a few clubs including the Student Government, Exotics Club, and Integrative Medicine Club. The clubs are extremely helpful since they have wet lab opportunities as well as lunch lectures.  They also have additional resources that may confirm your interest in a certain area.

Who gave you your letters of recommendation? Did you know them well? Did you find the application process stressful? Why or why not?

My letters of recommendation came from people I knew personally. One was a vet I’d worked with for 3 years. Another vet was my godmother who’s mentored me too over the years.

 

I personally didn’t find the process stressful.

This had always been my dream so it was more so surreal if anything. I was happy to finally be in the application process. I knew my grades weren’t great hence, the worst that could happen would be I don’t get in. If I didn’t get in  I would take some classes over and perhaps get a Master’s.

Regardless if I had to apply one time or seven times, I knew I wanted to be a vet so the application process was just a part of the journey just as all the hard chemistries, biochemistries, physics, and other hurdles along the way had been. I was confident in the experience I had and my GRE score as well.

Are you happy that you chose this career? What makes you most happy about this career choice?

The medical field has always interested me but being an MD was never my dream. I had a deep love for animals and I felt that becoming a vet crossed animals and medicine in the best way imaginable. In all reality, I don’t care if I’m rich or poor – as long as I’m making a difference in an animal’s life. If I can manage this then I feel that my life goals have been accomplished.

Do you have any advice for students thinking about attending SGU? What do you like most about SGU?

Go for it! Do it! It’s going to be hot. It’s going to be a different experience. This Grenada vet school may not operate how you are used to in the states, but its an experience you can’t get anywhere else. I love it because it was personally the first place where I could be myself.  It was a fresh start and where I was ultimately fulfilling my life dreams.

Everyone is from everywhere!  There are so many vet and med students all trying to reach a similar goal on a tropical island! You have to be open to change and willing to adapt, and then it will become a life-changing experience. There are so many opportunities you experience from volunteering with the leatherback sea turtle research program to hiking and jumping off waterfalls on study breaks. You get hands-on experience starting in your first semester. The endless beautiful sunsets and beach almost daily cannot be matched at any stateside school.

Is there anything about Grenada that you absolutely love?

Grenada sunset, taken by Brittney Kilgore a vet student at SGU

The sunsets and beaches are definitely a favorite. I also like just how slow and easy life is. You can get lost in the hustle and bustle of American life, but everything is very chill and relaxed there. I personally appreciate that.

 

 

Do you find it difficult living and studying on a tropical island?

No, although most of my family doesn’t understand how I could study with the beach always just a 5-minute drive away. Honestly, I feel that being on an island makes it easier to focus. Grenada is only 134 square miles large. While there are things to do, at the same time, it’s not. Often times you have nothing to do except study. There are not many distractions and the majority of the student population is in vet/med school so most people are studying all the time.

Grenada sunset. Grenada vet student

Any study tips?

Don’t wait until the week before an exam to start studying. Review along the way. Draw and save diagrams. Use/make notecards (ANKI is a great application). Study with a group and explain things. If you can’t explain it, you don’t know it. Also, don’t stop reviewing when the semester ends. Everything comes back around and builds on the previous semester.

What has been your favorite class and why?

Physiology and clinical pathology. I love knowing the ‘why’ of everything in life. Both of these classes explain why your body works and responds the way it does. It allows me to understand why certain diseases cause certain symptoms or signs and why the body just is the way it is. I feel like these classes can help almost every other class make sense.

What is the most challenging class, in your DVM program, so far?

So far, pharmacology has been the hardest. At SGU, its a 2-semester course (each semester it’s a 3 credit class). It’s not only knowing the drug but how it works in the body. It’s hard because there are so many drugs to memorize and some things work differently in some animals and some are species-specific. What made it so hard was how content dense it was. I like the idea of pharmacology, but remembering it all was tough.

As a student, did you have to take out loans for your education? If so, are you concerned about the amount of debt that you have accrued?

Yes, I did. In-state of course is always cheaper. SGU’s tuition is roughly around the average of most vet schools’ out-of-state tuition. My family helps me with personal things such as rent, food, travel, etc so all of my loans go towards tuition only. Still, I’ve accumulated quite some loans and I’m only about halfway finished with my veterinary school education.  I catch myself thinking about how exactly I will pay it all off and it does concern me at times.  Equally important is that I know that I’ll find a way to pay off my loans.

As a student, have you gotten to research or work on any interesting cases? Do you have a specialty or are you working towards one?

I haven’t gotten to work with any interesting cases so far, but I’d like to do a feline medicine specialty. Sometime in the near future, I will decide if I’d pursue being board certified for feline medicine. I do have a strong desire to specialize.

Do you have any last words of wisdom? How can people find you? 

If becoming a veterinarian is your dream go for it! On the other hand, if attending school isn’t your thing or you don’t want the financial burden, being a vet tech is not a bad thing or a downplay on the vet field! Vet techs are who keep the clinics running! There are so many opportunities out there in so many different fields.

Check out my youtube for more about general vet school things and LOTS on SGU at www.youtube.com/brittneykilgore

And follow me on Instagram: @thatvetbk