Students from different departments within CAST (and one student involved in Gamma Phi Circus) were selected as Robert G. Bone Scholars for the 2020-2021 academic year. The recognition is the highest campus honor given to undergraduate students. Recipients receive a monetary award and are included in a Bone Student Center display. Students are chosen based on academic achievements, community involvement, and demonstrated leadership within the University and surrounding communities. This year’s recipients answered questions about their work, inspiration, and the honor of being named a Bone Scholar.

Nicole Vasquez is a senior studying pre-veterinary medicine.

What made you choose to study pre-veterinary medicine at Illinois State?

I had an interest in science and medicine, combined with a love for animals. I chose ISU because of the pre-vet specified major, affordability, beautiful campus, small class size within my major, and being awarded the Presidential scholarship that covered tuition.

Do you have any mentors or people who have helped guide your academic path so far?

Dr. Drew Lugar, an animal science professor, has been an amazing mentor in my time at ISU. He has helped me get involved in research and aided me in my process of applying to vet school. Many veterinarians I had worked with have also been great resources for advice and experience that have pushed me to reach my goals within my major.

Tell us about a favorite course or project you have worked on. What did you enjoy the most about it?

My favorite course I have taken at ISU was the laboratory component of introduction to animal science. This course was filled with hands-on experience at the ISU University Farm with our animals. I enjoyed processing piglets and working with our cattle, and it overall provided me valuable experience that I was lacking with large animals.

How have you adapted to this learning environment we are currently in (with a majority of courses online)?

I have tried to adapt to this format by giving myself changes in environment while completing schoolwork, whether this be in open classrooms or out on the Quad. I find this to be extremely helpful as it can be difficult to feel motivated to do schoolwork in my bedroom or in my apartment with three roommates. I also try to stay on top of my schoolwork instead of procrastinating asynchronous classwork as this adds much more stress.

What kinds of engagements do you have outside of campus?

I work at both an animal shelter and veterinary clinic in town. I began at the animal shelter as volunteer through the Student Pre-Veterinary Association for about a year before being offered a position. Similarly, I shadowed at the veterinary clinic to gain experience before I began working there. Although I love staying busy, in my free-time I enjoy hammocking and binging Netflix shows!

What are you involved with on campus?

On campus, I am the president of the Student Pre-Veterinary Association. I also have held positions in the club as vice-president and volunteer chair. In prior semesters I was involved in the Wildlife Conservation Club and held a position as their fundraising chair. Currently, I am also helping with research at the University Farm, studying ultrasound techniques with our sheep. Last semester, I also assisted with a sow research study.

What does this recognition mean to you?

This recognition has meant a lot to me and most importantly it has pushed me to keep striving to reach my dreams. I feel extremely lucky to be recognized for doing the things I love and learning about topics I am passionate about.

Do you have any advice for students when it comes to academic success?

My advice for achieving academic success is to never feel like you are alone. There are countless resources available at ISU, especially incredible faculty that want to see us all succeed. Don’t be afraid to reach out or tell someone when you are lost or stressed. Also, never feel discouraged by a difficult course or semester. A few grades do not define you. If you find yourself struggling, take a deep breath, do something that you find relaxing, and ask someone for help.

Tell us about your future goals: What is coming up for you after you leave ISU?

I recently applied for four veterinary schools in September. I am now waiting for a few months to hear back about interviews and acceptances. I am planning on graduating from ISU a year early in May and hopefully will attend veterinary school in August! If I am lucky enough to get in, I will spend the next four years earning my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

Want to learn more about majors and opportunities within the Department of Agriculture at Illinois State? Visit the department’s website for more information.