It has been a very busy few weeks here at The Woods... I can't believe it is already April! Things got hectic leading up to spring break. Last week I returned to Colorado for break and it was beautiful! The weather was gorgeous and I got to spend time with my family.
During the week I was able to volunteer at Colorado State University's Equine Reproduction Lab. In order to be a competitive applicant for veterinary school, it is important to get as much experience shadowing and volunteering at many different types of veterinary clinics. I worked as an assistant last summer, and my boss knew someone up at CSU who would let me come shadow (it's all about connections!).
It was a very busy week and I learned a lot! The entire operation is about breeding and they perform the most advanced procedures. They also work on research to further our understanding of equine reproductive health.
When I wasn't volunteering, I spent time with my family. We went and saw the movie Insurgent (which I highly recommend). We also went to a local pottery painting studio which was a lot of fun! I always enjoy seeing my family, but it is also good to be back at William Woods with all of my friends.
I hope you're enjoying the beautiful spring weather!
This semester I'm taking a new class offered by Dr. Keller in the Biology Department, Microbial Diseases and the Human Body. As you can imagine, lecture is quite interesting because we learn about different diseases that affect people, and even things I've had in the past for instance strep throat! There is also a lab associated with the course, and after taking Microbiology my sophomore year, I knew I'd like working in the lab with different microorganisms.
Recently we learned about the mechanisms behind different antimicrobials. In lab, we got to see how antibiotics really work. We set up plates by covering them with bacteria (two different kinds) and then placed small disks soaked in different antibiotics on the surface of the plate. About a day later, we could actually see which antibiotics worked on the different bacteria! The soaked disks caused different zones of inhibition where the bacteria couldn't grow because of the antibiotic presence, and the two different bacteria were affected by different antibiotics.
It was really interesting to actually see it work! I've been sick and taken antibiotics several times, and I always knew that they function by killing the bacteria and not your own human cells, but to actually physically see the results was pretty cool! We've also been talking about the importance of not taking antibiotics unless your doctor says it is necessary because if you have say a virus then you're not killing the actual problem and instead you reduce the number of healthy microorganisms (which is also why a lot of people have the side effect of nausea when they take antibiotics!). You also have to take the full course of antibiotics and not stop when you feel better because if there are a few bacteria hanging around they can cause a secondary infection, or you could contribute to antibiotic resistance which is no good! I'd heard all these things before, but until learning about it in lecture and lab I didn't know why people said it. Now it all makes sense!
Every semester there are several equestrian clinics on campus, as well as opportunities to show on and off campus. Each seat hosts its own events. This semester dressage hosted Betsy Steiner. I did not ride in the clinic, but I did get to go and watch! Betsy Steiner is a very well known trainer and rider in the dressage world, and she has had a relationship with Karen Pautz and William Woods for quite some time now. There have actually been William Woods students who went on to work at Steiner Dressage!
Watching the clinic was a great opportunity to learn. I saw two full 45 minute sessions in which the main focus was on control at the canter. The riders worked on collection, counter canter, and flying lead changes.I learned a lot of things that I'm hoping to apply to my own riding.
Clinicians offer a unique opportunity to learn. Whenever a clinician comes to William Woods, regardless of the seat, I like to go and watch (often we get a LEAD point for it too!). Every trainer and professional has a different background, and they often have new training techniques and exercises. I like to listen and learn about different exercises and think about the biomechanics and mental challenges they present to the horse. It is fun to try and adapt exercises from a different discipline to my own riding.
This semester is full of opportunities at the barn. A few weeks ago there was a judging clinic for high school students. Last weekend we hosted Betsy Steiner and this weekend we have an on campus show for hunter/jumper, saddle seat, and western! In a few weeks there will be a dressage schooling show on campus, and then our annual recognized USDF show is in April! The other seats also have off-campus shows this semester for students to go to. I'm looking forward to all of the opportunities to support my friends and peers!
One of the best things that has happened since I started at William Woods is that I have found my passion. Now I still don't know yet exactly what I want to do with my life, but I do know that it will probably involve vet school and eventually a PhD. I get to go to my classes every single day and enjoy what I'm learning. I find myself making connections to concepts in my current classes with the information I learned nearly three years ago as a freshman! It is an amazing thing to really enjoy class and reading the textbook!
This year I've had the opportunity to work with Dr. Pullen on a research project involving eukaryotic cell culture. We work with several types of human cancer and I have learned how to keep these cell cultures alive in the lab so we can study them. The goal is to find out something new about these cell lines by looking at the proteins they express.
Last week we started to think that maybe our approach wasn't going to yield well quantifiable results. This means that I get to learn about another lab technique I haven't done before! I've found that I really enjoy the challenges Dr. Pullen gives me in the lab. Often times things don't work out either due to a mistake or just luck, but it turns out the feeling you get when something finally works is just that much sweeter if it didn't go the way you'd planned the first (or second or third) time. I'm learning that lab work requires a person to be resilient.
Whether you're interested in science, American Sign Language, equestrian science or business, I hope you find that the professors here at The Woods help you find your passion. Through the experiences I've had with my professors here, I've figured out that I really enjoy learning about the science you can't see (cell biology) and I want to continue to do things in the lab that broaden our understanding of how life works.