Once a Dream, Now a Reality: Christina Mozzon’s Journey to Vet School
November 14, 2022
By Christina Mozzon, M.Sc., B.Sc., Student Veterinarian, OVC Class of 2024
Like any vet student, I loved animals ever since I was a little girl. From helping my grandparents raise their backyard chickens, to begging for a puppy (of course), I was always involved with anything animal-related. Little did I know that this passion of mine would soon become my lifelong career.
My journey to veterinary school truly began during my undergraduate degree at Laurentian University, where I studied Biomedical Biology. Throughout this stage of my life, I was trying to gain as much animal experience as possible to enhance my vet school application, which included volunteering at a local small animal veterinary clinic. I assisted with tasks including prepping patients for surgery, anesthesia monitoring, and laboratory work. I remember when I was able to watch my first live surgery and I immediately thought to myself: “wow, now THIS is what I want to do for the rest of my life!”.
Eventually, I discovered my enthusiasm for animal ecology by working at a local science centre caring for native Ontario wildlife species and educating the public about their biology. After all, who wouldn’t want to walk a porcupine or perform flying squirrel shows for crowds of people? This experience allowed me to understand how crucial these species and their interactions are to the world we live in, and the many efforts we can make as humans to save those that are endangered.
This led to an interest in research, conservation, and a world of discovery. In my fourth year, I completed an Honours thesis project in fisheries biology, which taught me the concepts of developing a research question, organizing and conducting field work, completing laboratory tests on samples collected, and analyzing data. Not only did I develop a whole new skill set for research, but I also had the opportunity to network with many professionals in the field, present my research at a conference with other like-minded people, and ultimately publish my work in a reputable journal!
With all these new and unique experiences I had gained over the years, I decided it was a good time to apply to vet school, but… I was not admitted. I was not even offered an interview. Devastated and confused, I had to think to myself - what now?
After thinking about all of my options, I decided to further explore my newfound passion for research by starting the next stage of my life as a graduate student, aiming to apply through the graduate cohort during the next round of vet school applications. I continued my studies at Laurentian University by completing the Masters of Science in Biology program. My research project focused on the urbanization of raccoons and the associated health consequences of consuming an urban diet. This project allowed me to develop skills that would also be useful as a veterinarian, including blood draws, body condition scoring, wildlife handling, and nutrition analyses. It also allowed me to network with more professionals, present at more national conferences, and publish another research article!
During grad school, I considered myself a ‘yes woman’, as I agreed to almost any opportunity that was presented to me because... why not? Some highlights included participating in a national nocturnal owl survey (I got to wander around the forest at night recording the species of owls I heard!) and hiking through provincial parks identifying winter bird species I observed for the local ornithological society. On the academic side of things, I was the student representative for the University’s Animal Care Committee, where I learnt about animal-related research occurring around campus and how to evaluate the ethical use of their animals. This not only gave me more insight into the research world, but also taught me about the husbandry related to laboratory and exotic species – all very useful for a career as a veterinarian.
Finally, at the end of my M.Sc., I decided to reapply to vet school. Guess what… I GOT IN! I simply cannot explain the feeling of pure joy and excitement I had when I had read the word “Congratulations!” in my offer letter. All those years of hard work and dedication had paid off because I was admitted into my dream school and going to become a veterinarian!
And honestly, the fun did not stop there. In vet school, there are endless opportunities to be involved, network with like-minded individuals, and carve your path towards your future career. I recently discovered my passion for international veterinary work this past summer, when I volunteered with Veterinarians Without Borders for three months in Cambodia. I was privileged enough to work first-hand with a local NGO in helping smallholder farmers improve their production. It was quite a challenge to practice veterinary medicine overseas, but it strengthened my skills to be resourceful and understand situations from a One Health perspective. I had also learned how to integrate myself into another culture and met some amazing lifelong friends.