HOUSTON – Sept. 27, 2019 – As a fourth-year student in Carl Wunsche Sr. High School’s nationally recognized Veterinary Sciences program, Jalin Freeman has big plans for her life after graduation. Big animal plans, to be precise.
“I always loved animals, and I also like exotic animals,” Freeman said. “So I thought, why not combine them all together and do zoological veterinary studies? So I’ll get to do your typical zoo animals and also smaller animals.”
Although the course of studies to become a zoo veterinarian is an arduous one, Freeman and her classmates are already gaining real-life experience – and accumulating hours toward becoming Certified Veterinary Assistants – through both outside internships and in the school’s very own Wunsche Pet Clinic. Along with grooming and spa treatments, the clinic offers vet-related services like physical exams, vaccinations, urinalysis and heartworm testing. Visiting veterinarians also give students the opportunity to observe more advanced procedures.
“We get a lot of experience here that we wouldn’t get at another school,” said Shianne Koch, another Wunsche senior who described getting to study and practice in the school’s clinic as “an exhilarating ride.”
Helping to facilitate that ride is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department Chair and Veterinary Science Teacher Jessica Graham. As a Licensed Veterinary Technician who earned her bachelor’s degree in agriculture science from Texas A&M, Graham is passionate about helping her students turn their love for animals – and animal science – into rewarding careers.
“I get to watch these kids fulfill a dream,” said Graham during a rare quiet moment one recent afternoon in the clinic. She explained that one of the program’s strengths is the way it allows students and faculty to work together collaboratively, building a sense of community over time. “They’re with us for four years,” she said. “We get to see them grow up.”
Senior Madisyn Plata, who plans to become a teacher herself someday, said Graham helps foster a feeling of camaraderie, fun and respect among students in the program.
“She’s more than a teacher,” Plata said. “She’s one of those teachers you will remember forever.”
As the day ended with the last bell of the afternoon, the group of seniors lingered, talking with one another and tending to the remaining animals’ needs. Graham said it isn’t always easy getting her students out the door, but that she understands. For many, the clinic and the other veterinary science students are like a family.
“The kids take pride in the work they do here,” Graham said, adding, “It’s a lot of fun. I love what I do.”
Before finally heading out the door to catch her afternoon ride, Plata took one last look around the clinic, then summed up her thoughts.
“There are people who choose to be at school,” she said, smiling. “We are those people.”
The Wunsche Pet Clinic operates most weekdays, with all clinic services supervised by faculty instructors. For more information, or to make an appointment, call 281-891-7650.