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If you're anything like me, you had your whole life planned out as soon as you could talk. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I've had my life planned out from a very early age. I knew exactly what I wanted, and I had a plan for how I was going to get there. I did whatever I needed to do to keep the end goal in sight, and when things didn't go as planned, I definitely got myself very worked up about it. However, as I got older, I started to realize that life doesn't have a plan. Things happen, plans change, and that's okay. As long as you still have your end goal, it doesn't matter how you get there. And sometimes the journey to your goal is more exciting when it's not what you had planned out.
Ever since I could talk (this one isn't an exaggeration), I've wanted to be a vet. I've always been the happiest version of myself when I am around my animals. Once I got into high school, the plan was to attend Towson University, work at a vet office while in college, and then go to Cornell for vet school. That was how I decided things were going to happen, and that was the only way things could happen. And it started out on track. I was accepted to Towson, and I had already completed a summer interning at a vet office. The internship confirmed that it was what I wanted to do, and it made me more excited to execute my plan.
My family moved to Connecticut, and that's when my plan broke down. Towson took away my in-state tuition, and I made the difficult decision to drop out of Towson, and transfer schools. I wasn't sure where I would end up, but I applied to the University of Connecticut, and my back-up plan was to get a vet tech license from a local community college. The sole fact that I had a back-up plan was a big step for me, because I was very much a one track mind type of person at the time. That summer, however, I did go back to work at the same vet office, this time as a full time technician. It was amazing to know I was at least getting some experience in my field, but I still spent the whole summer worrying about where I would be attending college in the fall.
Half way through July, I finally got my UCONN acceptance letter. I was glad to know where I was going, but I wasn't happy to be starting at a new university. I was scared to be the new kid again, especially when I thought I had a plan. Little did I know, this was going to become one of the best decisions of my life, and my adventure was about to start.
I was accepted to a regional campus of UCONN, so I was in a much smaller campus than the main one. I was able to get to know some of my classmates, and I was able to form friendship bonds fairly quickly. After a year, I transferred to the main campus at Storrs, along with many of the friends I had made at the regional campus. We were able to take classes together, and one of my professors was full-time at the main campus (part time at the regional campus). I chose her as my advisor, and my first professor connection began. In my first semester at Storrs alone, I got so much experience in my field. I took a class called Livestock Management, where I got to get a lot experience with animals I had never worked with before. Around this time, I also started taking horse back riding lessons, so I was getting experience with horses as well. Luckily, that first semester was only the beginning.
The next couple of semesters at UCONN were just as exciting as the first one. I got to take specialized classes in my major, and I learned so much, and made so many friends. I made a connection with my Livestock Management professor, and I was able to help deliver, and socialize Labrador puppies that he bred. I did break my foot while riding, which was a minor setback, but it just made for a more exciting journey.
In the fall of 2017, the most exciting part of my journey began. I was accepted into the Disney College Program, and I am not being dramatic when I say that the experience changed my life. I got to work for an extremely large company, and I got a lot of people experience, and life skills during my program. I made some of the best friends I have ever had, and I experienced living completely on my own for the first time. I extended my program for almost an entire year, and although that put my graduation behind, I didn't regret it. It changed my life plan, but I was started to become okay with straying away from the plan.
When I finally returned to UCONN, I wasn't sure when I would be able to graduate, what classes I still needed to take, or what steps I wanted to take next. This was the first time in my life that I was okay with not having a plan. I found out that I was eligible to graduate that semester I returned, so crunch time started. I registered for the classes I needed, and as stressful as it was to have the pressure to pass every class I was taking, I was so excited. The best part was, it was when I started taking things a day at a time. Because I was graduating, I should have applied to vet school in the fall. I didn't know I was graduating, so I didn't apply. Because of that, I have an entire gap year to start a new plan, and a plan B, C, etc. I have options, and I have time to decide what options I want to take.
Tomorrow I graduate from UCONN with my undergraduate degree in animal science. I'm graduating later than I was supposed to, and I'm actually okay with that. I don't know where I'm going to vet school, or even when I'm going, and that's okay! I still have my end goal in sight, and I know that I will do what I need to get there, even if I don't have every step of the way planned out. Deviating from my plan has made for a pretty incredible journey, and I'm so excited to see the next step.