The 10th class of Utah State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine has arrived at USU. After a week of orientation activities and receiving their white lab coats in a ceremony on August 19, the 30 incoming students are ready to begin the challenge of becoming veterinarians.
Aimee Thompson has been looking forward to attending USU for years.
“I applied to USU because it was my top program,” Thompson said. “I've been looking at USU since I was in seventh grade, and I actually took pictures outside the vet science building way back then. I found out about the program through family who live here when the program first started. It's nice to be close to Nevada where I’m from and in a great program that I'm familiar with.”
USU’s School of Veterinary Medicine is part of the Washington-Idaho-Montana-Utah (WIMU) Regional Program. Students at Utah State’s School of Veterinary Medicine spend their first two years in Logan before moving to the Pullman campus of Washington State University, where they focus on clinical work, specializations and complete their doctor of veterinary medicine degrees.
Another new student, Austin Haws, cites his love for Cache Valley, the split between schools and the program’s rigorous reputation as the reason why he applied.
“I know several people who went through the program, and even worked with some of them, like Dr. Kyle Heaton, Dr. Dalen Wood. and Dr. Michala Lindley,” Haws said. “They weren’t at the USU site, but they had great things to say about the program in general. I also like the two-year split, the hands-on experience and the small class size. It just sounded really exciting.”
While attending Utah State and the WIMU Regional Program marks a new chapter in the lives of many of the class of 2025, for some, it’s also a connection to family and the past.
“My mom’s a nurse, so I come from a medical background,” Thompson said. “However, I also have a deep passion for animals. My family has owned a ranch in Nevada since the 1870s, and I’m from the sixth generation, so animals have always been a big part of who I am. More importantly, I live in a very rural community where the closest medical help for people or animals is at least an hour and a half away, so I also have a desire to help underserved communities in rural areas and improve the health of humans and animals alike.”
Michael Bishop, director of student and academic affairs for USU’s School of Veterinary Medicine, has watched the WIMU program grow over the years and interacted with many of the students. He notes that while the program has expanded to include new areas of veterinary knowledge as well as subjects like communication, conflict resolution and financial and business management, the talent of the students continues to drive the program.
“They’re an amazing group of people to work with, and it’s both interesting and satisfying to be a part of this phase of their professional journey,” Bishop said. “It’s a transformational experience that affects them not only on an intellectual level, but emotionally, socially, professionally, spiritually and even physically.”
While competition to get into the limited number of veterinary programs in the U.S. is fierce, Utah State emphasizes cooperation and collaboration once the students arrive in Logan. Orientation activities ranging from icebreakers and a ropes course to exercises that identify personal strengths all help the incoming class bond before the school year begins in earnest.
“Everybody keeps mentioning how this is going to be such a family,” said Haws during a networking dinner for students and faculty. “I think that's going to be true. We’ll have genuine camaraderie between us and grow as a cohesive unit and succeed. And I think that'll be really cool.”