By Sam Phillips
When Colleen Maskarinec discovered there were no clubs at Youngstown State University for pre-veterinary medicine students, she formed the Pre-Vet Society.
The objective of the club is to reach out to the community of students who are interested in the veterinary field or learning more about animal science. She formed the club earlier this month, and it currently has 36 members.
“I want to be able to build networking connections not only for myself but for other students as well,” Maskarinec said. “I want to help every single student who has the dream of being a vet.”
One of the group’s aims is to help students build their resumes and get the experience they need to be eligible for veterinary school. Maskarinec said students should shadow and work with local veterinarians and talk to students who have been through the application process.
She said some of the seniors have been through it already, so they can share knowledge with underclassmen on what they need to do.
Deborah Benyo, the club’s faculty adviser, said to help reinforce the knowledge students will get about applying to vet schools, they will have an outside speakers answer questions about vet school and talk about the experience.
“They’re going to do some hands on service projects at some of the area’s humane societies,” Benyo said.
She said they will also meet with other pre-vet students at conferences.
“I think that’s really going to generate a lot of excitement for them and to connect with other students on other campuses that have pre-vet clubs also,” Benyo said.
Benyo said the club is open to anyone who has a passion for animal care and humane practices of animal raising.
“Students in departments like engineering, they have a passion for animal care and want to be more well-rounded so that would be great exposure to get not just kids in biology that are pre-vet majors, but students from around campus,” she said.
Maskarinec said the club will benefit students who aren’t sure where to begin in pursuing a veterinary career.
“It gives you a foot in the door. It will help with figuring out where you want to go,” she said. “The more students we get together, the more opinions we’ll have, the more knowledge we’ll gain.”
On March 10, the club will attend Akron Zoo Veterinary Day and go behind-the-scenes to see what the daily life of a zoo veterinarian is like.
“It’s giving everybody something they can look forward to,” Maskarinec said. It’s not just going to be farm animals or cats and dogs because [we want to show students a variety of what they could do].”
She said she hopes the club will have a wider appeal than just pre-vet biology majors.
“We also have a lot of engineering students that say [to build their resume] it’s really good to get out of engineering field, to get into more of the medical side. They think dealing with animals and volunteering for different charities will [be beneficial],” Maskarinec said. “Part of it is they get to play with puppies and different animals, and who doesn’t like that?”
Organizations like the Humane Society and 4-H are already reaching out to the group.
Ashley Meade, a biology major, said the club gives her the chance to meet people in the field she wants to pursue.
“I hope to get some more hands on volunteering in animal shelters with them,” Meade said. “I feel weird going to shelters to volunteer by myself. Now that they do too, I won’t have to go alone.”
Maskarinec is reaching out to local veterinarians, and some have said they will provide opportunities for job shadowing or assisting in surgeries.
The group is also working with high school students deciding on what major or program to pursue. They will be able to talk to these students about the programs they are involved in, what YSU has to offer and how their experience has been.
“It’s cool because [it helps those students], and it will increase enrollment to YSU, especially for the science programs like biology and chemistry,” she said.
Benyo praised Maskarinec’s dedication to the club.
“This has been Colleen’s idea, Colleen’s passion,” Benyo said. “She’s a real go getter, doing it for the important reasons … She’s passionate about making this more than a club in name only.”