“As a family, we’ve always had companion animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits and rodents. It is these that I think encouraged me into animal-related careers. A veterinary nursing role appealed to me most due to the high level of client interaction, varied responsibilities and the appreciation pet owners have of them once they’ve been involved in the care of the pet”, says Ashleigh, from Lancaster.
Animals are Ashleigh’s passion – followed closely by a desire to see the world. “Some of my earliest memories are watching the immensely popular David Attenborough documentaries with my Grandparents. This also inspired me to want to travel with my work, and that such careers would allow me to gain employment practically anywhere I desired; there are always going to be animals where you go, and those animals and the people involved in their care likely to need support and education.”
With this in mind, Ashleigh, 22, has been gaining considerable experience in her chosen field – at some personal expense. “I applied for the scholarship because I have been able to support myself independently for the majority of my years here, but after a year of unpaid placement in veterinary practice and a summer of volunteering for a horse trekking company in South Africa, my savings were depleted. I found that I didn’t have the time to take on a part-time job around my final year workload, especially as I am hoping to maintain my grades above 70% in order to secure a first-class Honours degree.”
She is currently gaining further work experience in various animal collections, from dog shelters and catteries to equine hospitals and zoos. “Whilst I was in South Africa, I also volunteered at an animal sanctuary, and was involved in feeding predators such as lions and cheetahs, cleaning baboon enclosures and handling smaller species such as meerkats and spider monkeys. I also shadowed a Vet during my time, assisting in the consultations in Small Animal Practice and then observing field visits to equestrian stud farms.
“Once I have graduated, I hope to secure a job in mixed animal practice. Eventually, I wish to work in African countries and travel the continent, working with native species as well as in veterinary practices there, treating companion animals and educating owners in best practise”, adds Ashleigh.