Melanie Hnot '06

Melanie Hnot

Sitting down to write this essay, I realize I feel more like it’s my senior year at MHC rather than my fourth year at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. I’m asking for letters of recommendation, sprucing up my resume and sweating over writing my letter of intent. Most importantly, I’m wondering what I will be doing next year and where I’ll be. I’m now applying for a rotating internship in small animal medicine and surgery, and while it’s been 3 years since I’ve set foot in South Hadley, it feels like a heartbeat away.

Even as a child, I remember thinking how cool it would be to have a job where I got to play with animals all day. Now I’m hooked on the challenge of each new case. Occasionally, you get a patient that makes you realize just how lucky you are to be helping animals and their owners. In vet school, there is more to learn than treatment protocols and clinical signs of diseases. It’s often easy to forget that you’re treating a patient and not just a medical condition, or that owners are entrusting you with their pet’s care.

Perhaps my best advice to aspiring veterinary students is to make sure that this is something you really, really want to do. While I’ll warn you that you will be loaded with more work than even your toughest semester at Mount Holyoke, MHC prepares you well. How can anything be harder than Lilian Hsu’s biochemistry classes or the last few months finishing your thesis?

Just as important as developing yourself as a student, and not to be overlooked, is the network of Mount Holyoke friends and alumnae you have formed. On those days when exams don’t go quite as well as planned, your MHC friends will always be there to support you and cheer you on. Perhaps you are familiar with the horse skeleton in the Clapp basement. Maybe you’ve even listened to the ever changing stories professors tell about its origin. The MHC alumna who assembled the skeleton is a dear friend and mentor to me. In high school, she encouraged me to become a vet and even took me on tours of UPenn's campus. She has continued to help and guide me through the last several years and is a continual source of encouragement for life after graduation. If you’re lucky, you have already met an amazing Mount Holyoke alumna to help you with future career decisions. If you’re really lucky, she might tell you the real story behind the horse skeleton.