Certificates of Achievement
Savanah St. Clair
Agriculture & Natural Resources
Office: CFS 91043
Jennifer Adelini, DVM
RVT Program Director
Lu Dao, DVM
Pre-veterinary Faculty Advisor
Stories from Pierce College Agricultural Alumni
From One of Pierce's First Graduates to go on to a graduate school of veterinary medicine:
"I had the distinction of becoming the first Pierce alumni to become a veterinarian, with Dick La Rue following me three years later.I entered one of the first classes at Pierce, and there were only male students at the time. It became coeducational and had only 375 students during my last year. Until I went there I had never heard the word "veterinarian," and was greatly influenced by the veterinarian that treated the Pierce farm animals. I grew up during the depression years, and our animals were raised as Christian Scientists. Ever since I can remember we raised chickens, and during W.W. II, rabbits in our back yard and slaughtered them for food. At a young age I learned the meaning of the expression "Running around like a chicken with its head chopped off." I remember when registering at Pierce for my last semester, telling my councilor and classmates that I had decided to become a veterinarian. The general response was "Yea, right! You better finish up and get your degree here so as to have something to fall back on." That was my wake up call, when I decided I had better start studying, which I did and was accepted to the U. C. School of Veterinary Medicine on my first application. It was my experiences at Pierce that made this possible. I became a veterinary pathologist, and the San Diego County Veterinarian and Director of the San Diego County Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory until my retirement. The pre-vet program and experience at Pierce is unique. It has obtained an excellent national reputation, the gratitude of your graduates, and is an outstanding credit to the school. I received my degree in Dairy Production. My degree was the main reason I was accepted to veterinary school. The management practices I learned at Pierce were a great help to me in my professional career."
Dr. Hubert C. Johnstone (San Diego County veterinarian)
May 27, 2007
Recognize this bunch from the Pierce Livestock Judging Team? Send us your guesses (or correct answers). Hint: Mr. Barlow was the coach. The year was 1977.
Or, how about this next photo? Hint: the bull was number 71. The year 1976. The rider?
"I believe that veterinary medical schools look for certain qualities in each candidate: they want to see high academic achievement, motivation and commitment, leadership skills, and team work. As a returning student (I got my B.A. in history from UCLA in 1990) who decided to pursue veterinary medicine a few years ago, I believe that diving right into Pre-Vet course work full-time and being involved in veterinary related activities has proven that this is what I really want to do. Gaining varied clinical and animal experience is key, because it shows that I have seriously attempted to acquaint myself with different aspects of veterinary medicine. I have small animal experience through my volunteer work at two different clinics (with specialties such as oncology and surgery), lab research experience from another volunteer position, and farm animal experience from the hands-on classes at Los Angels Pierce College. The animal science classes at Pierce (prerequisite requirements for certain vet schools) and the farm animal experience at Pierce have been very valuable. There is no other place in Los Angeles I would have been able to learn about livestock animals or animal science, and I think it is very important for the Pre-Vet student to have access to this type of experience and education. It is also important for the Pre-Vet student to show that s/he can manage her time well (while at Pierce, I commuted an hour each day to school, took full-time classes and got very good grades, was involved in the Pre-Vet Club and other school activities, volunteered on the weekend to get clinical experience, and worked anywhere from 23-30 hours per week as a secretary during the week to pay my bills--whew!). If you are planning on applying to vet school, I hope this information is helpful to you. I urge you to be as active as you can in gaining varied clinical and animal experiences, getting involved in extracurricular activities, and in keeping your grades up!"
Tamara (Tammy) Majeski, Graduate of Washington State University, Pullman School of Veterinary Medicine
"I grew up in a tract house in Santa Monica. I had no exposure to farm animals until coming to Pierce College. I took dairy and swine classes. I milked the cows and had a swine project. This experience got me a job with the USDA and eventually opened the door to veterinary medicine. I did not have adequate study skill preparation in high school. The Pierce Farm Faculty taught me how to study, how to work hard. Pierce gave me the experience that got me into vet school."
Dr. Robert Pollard (one of the top llama veterinarians in the United States).
"I was born and raised in Los Angeles. Upon graduation from high school I was not very focused in regard to my future educational goals. I had an interest in veterinary medicine, but did not have the grades to attend the University of California. I spent two years at Pierce and took numerous classes in the Ag. Program and worked on the farm crew. My experiences in the Ag. Program and the farm crew gave me the incentive and determination to produce on the academic side. In 1976 I became the first food animal resident at U.C. Davis. I would hate to see those opportunities that I had at Pierce College be denied to those youngsters who may need the same type of help that I found there when I needed it. All those years ago, it was much more rural than it is now. That makes it even more important to have the agricultural land and the livestock available to stimulate those young minds to pursue careers in agriculture. I currently own and operate a solo large animal veterinary practice as well as a commercial sheep/farming enterprise in Buhl, Idaho."
Dr. Barry E. Duelke, Sheep veterinarian, Masters of Preventive Veterinary Medicine
"I attended a number of agriculture classes at Pierce College. I also did a lot of volunteer work at the dairy. I credit the pre-veterinary experience I obtained at Pierce with helping me gain admission to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Today I am teaching and conducting research in companion animal epidemiology here."
Dr. Kenneth A. Bruecker, Veterinary Epidemiologist, UC Davis
"I attended Pierce in 1983-86 and feel I got a great education especially for a transfer student to UCD. I graduated from vet school in 1993. If there is anything I can do to help in saving the Ag programs please let me know."
Dr. Debbie Chew, Corning Veterinary Clinic, Corning, CA
This is Don King, former Pierce, Cal Poly, UC Davis and Iowa State Univ. student. From Pierce I went with a rather substantial group of Pierce transfer students to Cal Poly, where I graduated with a degree in Ag. Science. I taught HS Voc. Agriculture in No. Calif. for five yrs, then went to Davis for my second Masters. From there I went on to ISU for my Ph.D. in Ag. Education. I am now in NW Nebraska at Chadron State College in the position of Asst. Dean in the School of Education and Graduate Studies.
CLEARLY, I would not be where I am today had it not been for my years at LAPC. I look back on those years with the greatest fondness, not only because of the friendships I made and maintain, but because of the nurturing and support I received from the Ag. Faculty. Not to mention the leadership skills I developed through my involvement in the LAPC Chapter of Calif. Young Farmers.
Names and faces I still remember-- John Barlow, Mick Sears, Lindsey Boggess, Ron Wechsler, Lee Shapiro
Students who went to Poly with me: (the year was 1978)
Mark Stidham- Vet medicine
Gary Brown-- Health professions
Lori Miland- Anim. Sci.
Lynn Rudzig- Anim. Sci.
Rick Anderson- Ag. Bus.
Mike Binsley- Soil Sci. working in Ventura in Ag.
Laura Maphet - Dairy Science Major
Then there were a whole slough of Judging Team guys who went on to do well judging for Cal Poly. I was in San Luis two yrs ago and saw their pictures (as they were then) on the wall in the hallway of the agric. bldg. Brought back a whole flood of memories.
Thank you Pierce Ag Department.
"As you know, I had ZERO cow experience before I attended Pierce (really, zero farm animal experience, only horses, being a city girl and all...) but my classes and experiences, especially your enthusiasm and love of cows expanded my horizons, and made me seek new experiences, including Les Ferreira's AI class and dairy biotechnology/ET class... I am now a MIXED ANIMAL PRACTITIONER, and I would say that 30% of my weekly patients are farm animals (cows, sheep, goats, pigs). See Dr. Silvers palpating dairy cattle - a job she would never have thought of had it not been for the Pierce College 240-acre teaching Farm laboratory."
Dr. Monica Silvers, Pennsylvania
Because of Pierce, I have had a long association with sheep and their various problems, and have felt quite comfortable working with the wild species of sheep. I often think back to the Sheep Production lectures in the old Quonset hut classrooms, and the experience of working with sheep up on the hill at the old sheep pens. My knowledge of farm animals gained at the Pierce Farm was a big factor in my acceptance into the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis. I had no farm experience whatsoever when graduating from Manual Arts High School in South Central Los Angeles. My visits to the L.A. County Fair made me determined to work in Agriculture or with domestic animals in some way. I enrolled in Livestock Production at Pierce. I worked on the Farm Crew and watched and assisted in treatments on the Pierce Farm Animals. I determined that a career as a vet was for me. My experience at Pierce was a defining point in my life. Without the ability to enroll in Farm Classes at Pierce, city-bred kids, like myself, cannot get the exposure to farm and livestock work while searching for a career. I owe much to Pierce.
The fine teachers that we had at Pierce stimulated my interest in a variety of species of animals. I became determined to have a career as a "vet". After serving in the Army, I entered UC Davis and graduated with a degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. My career has been primarily as a small animal veterinarian, but my "avocation" has been working with biologists and other researchers in the diseases and population dynamics of Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis).
In 1982, I was honored to be the founding president of the Bighorn Institute. I have served as Chairman of the Wildlife and Zoo Committee of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Association. At present, I am a member of the board of directors at Bighorn Institute and serve as veterinary advisor to that organization.
I will always love the Farm at Pierce.
C.W. Jenner, DVM
Note: Dr. Jenner grew up in South Central Los Angeles and is a graduate of Manual Arts High School. Pierce College Farm gave Dr. Jenner the opportunity to pursue a career in both small and larger animal medicine.
I moved back to the United States in December of 2000 from St. Kitts, West Indies after completing my classroom studies at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine(I was in the top 15% of my class!:)). I am currently in my senior clinical year at the University of Georgia School of Veterinary Medicine on a mixed animal track.
So, how did my pre-vet experiences working with the sheep, llamas, pigs and cattle on the Pierce College farm affect my life? Besides giving this "valley girl" the large animal experience required for vet school that is hard to find elsewhere in the area, the main thing it provided me with is confidence. Confidence that I could take care of a flock of sheep, confidence that I could castrate a calf, and most important. Confidence that I could be a veterinarian.
Thank you Pierce College Farm.
Kathy, formerly of Canoga Park, is a former Pre-Veterinary Club President. Dr. Ligon is currently practicing veterinary medicine back in California
I attended Pierce Jr. College for two years while I was receiving my B.S. in Biology from UCLA. The reason was simply that Pierce offered animal science based classes that were not offered at UCLA. Through Pierce I was able to gain knowledge and practical experience in animal science. After graduating from UCLA and taking several courses at Pierce, I earned my Master’s degree in Agriculture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. My research was focused on the detection of bacterial pathogens in dairy products. My academic background from Pierce was instrumental in my success as a graduate student at Cal Poly and in my present work. Currently I am working in the CBNP (Chemical and Biological National Security Group) as a Biomedical Scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Dept of Energy).
Maurice Pitesky, former Pierce Pre-Veterinary student (1998). Maurice is a graduate from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, class of 2008.
I am a graduate, of what was in 1986, the Animal Health Technology program. From my earliest memories I had dreams of being a horse rancher and a veterinarian. Well, my life took a less than direct route. The summer of the Olympic Games in Los Angeles I got advice from a beloved uncle that renewed my faith in possibilities, and sent me searching for training that could get me into the veterinary field. I found Pierce College. I lived in Torrance, California at the time and the commute to Woodland Hills was long. Still, I transferred from Cal State Long Beach, where I had almost completed my degree in Biology, to Pierce, where I graduated three semesters later.
I was in heaven. Not only was I learning and performing in a field I had dreamed about; I also spent my days in the company of animals. In April of 1986, just before I graduated, an opportunity came up to work at the swine unit under Bill Lander. He was a tough guy to catch. I had to be very persistent, even getting an interview of sorts "on the run". I got the job, moved into my room at the barn and lived a virtually idyllic life for another year and a half. I loved my dual life, working in an emergency hospital in Santa Monica, and working on the farm with the big animals. I continued to take classes, placing attention on horses. I even got to enjoy the privilege of having use of one of the school horses my last summer there, Eagle, an almost appaloosa. Up early @ 5:00 am (ugh! The pigs insured this), feed pigs and horses, riding lessons at 6:00, clean the barn, go to classes, walk the nature trail at least once a day.
Life was GOOD! I hated to leave. Pierce was like a dream island for me where I got to do those things I had longed to do, but doubted I'd be able to living in one of the largest and most congested cities in the world. What I learned there 13 years ago (has it been that long already?) I still use to accomplish goals today. Pierce College gave me a start on the road I had long wanted to travel. God bless God that Pierce College still stands and that the opportunity still exists for others who share my same dreams. God bless all the staff and faculty who have worked to make it grow so that the possibilities survive. Thank you very much. It's wonderful to be able to reconnect like this.
Marjee F. Zeier
I must say that working on the Pierce College Farm was probably one of the greatest experiences I have had as a Pre-Vet student. I was given the opportunity to not only participate in, but actually do myself several technical tasks involving the animals, including formulating feeds, breeding, and administering medicine to the different species that are housed on the Pierce College Farm. The Pierce College Farm gave me hands-on experience with the animals. Of those animals on the farm, I took a special liking to the Black Angus cattle. Having the cattle on campus made it much easier to gain the knowledge and experience that I still get to use today as a Dairy Science major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I have no doubt that the experience I gained on the Pierce College Farm helped me to attain matriculation into Cal Poly and eventually in my pursuit for Vet School. I am sure that the Pierce College Farm has helped me to get to where I am today and am certain that anyone who decides to take part in what goes on at the farm will vastly gain from it as I have. I know it's a very fulfilling experience.
Matt Singer - Western University School of Veterinary Medicine class of 2011
It's tough to convey how much Pierce College has meant to me. A couple of years ago I was stuck in a career I didn't like, wanting more than anything to follow my original dream of becoming a veterinarian. I had attended another local community college, but they really had no clue about veterinary school or the requirements to get in. I heard about Pierce from a friend who was going through the vet tech program and decided to check it out. I met with Dr. Shapiro and for the first time I had someone who could tell me exactly what I needed to do, and that I could do it if I put my mind to it. I had only heard from people that it was nearly impossible to get into vet school. Doc was very supportive and was able to lay everything out on the table. It was also through Doc's classes that I began to take an interest in dairy cows, and he encouraged me to apply to Cal Poly SLO and go for a degree in Dairy Science. So…after I finished my pre-vet classes at Pierce, I applied and was accepted to Cal Poly. Thanks to Pierce College and Dr. Shapiro, I'm half way through my first year at Cal Poly already, and will graduate in the spring of 2002 with a degree in Dairy Science. I am also applying to vet school this year for entrance in the fall of 2002. I am told that I stand a very good chance of being admitted and finally fulfilling my dream! It's a great feeling, and I will always owe so much to Pierce College and especially to the farm, where I was able to have contact with a lot of animals I never would have been able to handle otherwise. The support system was great, from faculty on down to fellow students. I love Cal Poly, but I'll always miss the farm (at Pierce College)!
Dr. Aubrey Berridge, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2006. Dr. Berridge is currently practicing equine veterinary medicine on the Iowa Illinois border.
Keith Fraser, while a senior veterinary student at UC Davis and Pierce alumnus.
From time to time it is healthy and hopefully enjoyable to look back on important decisions which positively influenced your life. It is even more enjoyable to look back on decisions and realize that some, often too few, were brilliant choices.
One of my better decisions was to attend Los Angeles Pierce College and involve myself with the activities and course work found in the Agriculture department. The instructors were very approachable and the facilities gave tremendous experience.
My experience with the school farm consumed the first 19 years of my life. My father was the beef herdsman in the glory days of the farm. When I was young, the school farm had neighboring farms on the Western border and was a perfect fit for the San Fernando Valley's mix of suburbia and California agriculture.
As the population pressure changed the valley, the school farm was an icon of the yesteryears of the beautiful valley once filled with farms of all commodities. The school farm became a refuge for those seeking something unique and the ability to receive hands-on experience from some of the best, dedicated and giving instructors available.
Growing up on the farm provided me with exposure to many different avenues of agriculture. My emphasis and love was found in the livestock end of the agriculture industry. I had great exposure to the veterinary and production sciences. This exposure assisted me in making my decision to continue an Agriculture Business major at Brigham Young University. The hands-on experience at Pierce gave me tremendous advantage over students who had to learn agriculture from a more formal setting. The quality of education while on the Pierce farm is above any I have experienced or observed at other places of education.
Since graduation from Brigham Young University I have worked in the agriculture field with Farm Credit, a bank lending money to farmers. I work with farmers growing a wide variety of products on the Central Coast of California. I gained a strong understanding of agriculture from my experiences at Pierce College that enables me to prudently discuss and make decisions with farmers, no matter what their agriculture emphasis may be. Agriculture all speaks the same language, however it must be learned by hand-on experience.
I am truly grateful I had wonderful experiences at the Pierce farm. The farm attracted great fellow students whose friendships I cherished. The farm has also attracted dedicated instructors who care about the continuance of agriculture in the San Fernando Valley and who care about the students with similar goals.
Tom Gulliver, Vice-President and Branch Manager of Farm Credit Bank, Santa Maria, California. Tom was born and raised on the Pierce College Farm. His father, Vic was Pierce's first beef herdsman and Farm Manager.
After completing the Equine Science program at L.A. Pierce College and earning my associates degree, Betina applied to the Kentucky Equine Management Program and begin working at Margaux Farm in Midway, KY and continued going to class one day a week. I have been told that I have a job here should I care to stay. I may do so and apply to the University of Kentucky to get my B.A. Degree. I thank Ron Wechsler for supporting me and encouraging my pursuit of a career in the horse industry.
Dr. Shapiro is the individual on the left. The veterinarian on the right milked cows at Pierce's dairy in 1990. She graduated from Mississippi State University Veterinary School in 1994. Anyone want to guess who Dr. ____ is?
Two Pierce alumni - now studying at the University Veterinary College, Dublin, Ireland. Evan Adler is in his fourth year and Stephanie Checel is a recent graduate of their veterinary school. Both plan on returning to California upon their completion of studies.
Pierce College was my starting point towards my goal of becoming a veterinarian. I took several of the animal classes which were fantastic. I really didn't know the process I had to go through to get into veterinary school. Dr. Shapiro was a great motivator and encouraged me to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. I obtained my B.S. in Dairy Science in June 1997. Being a "city girl", the thought of working on farm animals was crazy to me at first. Going to Pierce College and attending Cal Poly made this more of a reality and got me interested in animals I never thought I would work on. I am now starting my 4th year of veterinary school at University College Dublin, Ireland and will graduate with the class of 2003 as my school is a 5 year program. My experiences with large animals, especially dairy cows has made my life easier in veterinary school. I am way ahead of other students who have not had any large animal experience. I owe this to my start at Pierce College. I encourage anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine and is staying in the LA area to take the animal classes at Pierce College.
Stephanie Checel, Pierce College 1991-1993
I am currently a second year vet student at the University College Dublin (UCD). As per our curriculum we need to spend two weeks gathering farm experience (not vet experience) during our first two years of school. I ended up having to stay and complete all of my animal experience in Ireland because of the difficulty I encountered in finding any large animal farms in the Los Angeles area. The nearest place that I know of where it is possible to gather cow experience is Tulare, quite a trip from the valley. While looking for pig experience I found only one unit that had more than a few pigs. As per my course requirements there were too few pigs on the unit to satisfy my experience requirements. For pre-vet students and vet-students looking for large animal experience the LA area and more specifically the valley, both locations come up dry. It is a shame that Pierce College, the only local resource, is being replaced by non-farming enterprises. How is the valley expected to inspire future animal doctors and expose them to their required experiences? This untenable situation makes what is already an uphill battle, namely the application process and qualifying for vet school requirements, something that is even more difficult to accomplish. We as a community need to be concerned with supporting others in this community. Bring back the Pierce Farm!
Sincerely, Evan Adler
As a student at Pierce College, and a student of Dr. Shapiro in particular, I acquired important skills that I use today as a Master’s degree student in Comparative Pathology at the University of California at Davis. The animal anatomy and physiology course and animal science courses have given me a great advantage in my pathology and immunology classes at UCD. The animal ethics course I took at Pierce was a huge plus during my study of raptor parasite prevalence in long-term versus short-term captive residents (which will hopefully be submitted for publishing soon). My experiences at LAPC are ones I will never forget (especially the time I was taught to castrate a pig). Pierce teaches not only hard science but also self discipline, leadership and how to take certain situations with a grain of salt and a dash of humor. I wouldn’t trade my experiences at LAPC for anything. Pierce College is a great starting point for anyone interested in any type of field involving animals because it offers academic knowledge of the animals involved as well as hands on experience.
Melanie Ziman (completing her master's degree at UC Davis)
Los Angeles Pierce Pre-Vet Club: It was my pleasure meeting with such a group of students from the school where I received my pre-veterinary medicine education! I was impressed with the questions you asked and your enthusiasm for your entry into the field of veterinary medicine. I was accepted into veterinary school on the basis of my experience and education at Pierce College. UCDavis School of Veterinary Medicine saw my education and experience as equally preparatory to any of the premier universities across the country, such as Harvard, Yale, UCLA, USC, and even UCDavis. Your time at Pierce is shorter than you think and it will be over in the blink of an eye. No matter where you go from there you will always say "I wish I had learned more" (I have been saying that for the last four years, and will probably say it for the rest of my life). You have an invaluable opportunity while at Pierce College, take every advantage offered and make the most of every minute of it.
Fret Lucero DVM, (2/1/02)
Center for Comparative Medicine
University of California
Davis, California 95616
Drs. Lisa Silbertein, Lara Nicolevsky, Fret Lucero, Sean Hebeck-all Pierce alumni, all UC Davis graduates in veterinary medicine, all currently practicing in Southern California.
Dr. Silberstein's first spay.
Dear Dr. Shapiro,
I will forever be indebted to Pierce College for giving me the experience and opportunities in veterinary medicine that have placed me in the Freshman class of the U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
As you know, I started out at Pierce in the Veterinary Technology program and successfully attained my RVT license and A.S. degree. The RVT program is fantastic, Liz really imparts upon her students a great foundation in medicine and a joy for the work. By knowing animal handling techniques and clinical nursing skills, I can work as a tech when I need money, and I have confidence in clinical situations.
As a pre-vet student, I got excellent experience with sheep, swine, horses, chickens, llamas, and of course "Jack," my emu. My experience both in the husbandry/management side and the clinical side has put me at a distinct advantage over many of my classmates, and I believe is a big reason why I was accepted on my first try, even without a bachelor's degree. (Even now, as I am studying for a G.I. exam, I can tell you that the sections on ruminant and chicken G.I. are already so familiar, thanks to you!) Many of my classmates are envious of the well rounded background of the Pierce grads, and "Piercies" appear to be very well represented in all the classes.
The other great thing about coming from Pierce is that you are part of a big family. I know that I can approach any other Pierce Alum. and get advice or help - that kind of feeling of community is not something easily come by, and I feel proud to be an ongoing part of the tradition.
Without having you and the pre-vet program, Liz White (RVT program), Ron Wechsler (Equine), and of course, "The Pierce College Farm," I doubt I would have had the encouragement to continue with my pre-vet studies, let alone the experience and knowledge required for admittance to vet school.
Please forward my warmest regards to “the folks back home” and keep up the excellent work!
Dr. Deanna M. Brown, RVT
UC Davis Veterinary Medicine
Class of 2006
When I decided to change my career from the education field to pursue a veterinary career, the road ahead of me was (and still is) daunting. At LA Pierce College I found a group of cohort with diverse backgrounds but similar aspirations, who encouraged and supported each other through the struggles and triumphs of pre-veterinary pursuits. Dr. Shapiro no doubt is the foundation of the energized , encouraging, and positive atmosphere at the pre-vet club. Even before I knew where Pierce College was, he was immediately available for my millions of questions when I emailed him. His advice is right on the money (grades are priority), and his humor always relieves stress at just the right time. The Pre-Vet club benefited me not only in giving me the confidence to lead and speak out, but also giving me fond memories (of slaving away at the farm walk, of shearing and vaccinating sheep, of visiting UC Davis vet school) as well as many lifelong friends. The farm and Dr. Shapiro's classes at Pierce familiarized me with large animals, which I had never had any knowledge of or contact with. The farm and the faculty was readily accessible and full of information and secrets to be learned. Even though I have taken all the Ag classes I need, I still drive over to the farm, just to sit there and watch the animals. Outside of its educational purpose, the Farm has undeniable and intrinsic soothing qualities, and I will always recall it with gratitude and fondness.
Andrea Wang, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2009
While attending Pierce College as a pre-vet student I found as interest working with poultry. I started with raising egg laying birds in the poultry unit. From there I got some more experience by volunteering at the U.C Davis diagnostic labratory in San Bernardino, helping with chicken necropsies. I then did a three month internship at Foster Farms learning about turkey production. I was also lucky enough to do a research project with the USDA at Pierce College helping with the outbreak of Exotic Newcastle disease, For the past two years I have been working on a Masters in poultry nutrition at the University of Minnesota and will be starting vet school at Ross University in the Carribean in May.
My goal after vet school is to do a residency in poultry medicine and become a poultry veterinarian for a big poultry company such as Foster Farms or Tyson Foods.
Claude Hebron, former Pierce Pre-Vet Club President, Ross University Veterinary College, Class of 2010
If not for Pierce, I don't know that I would have been admitted to UC Davis ... at least not the first time around. Dr. Shapiro provided excellent guidance and support that can only be acquired from 30 years of experience in the field, and all he ever expected in return was a smile and hard work. I put in the work, and found the smiles came easy ... because the work turned out to be so enjoyable.
The animal science classes were surprisingly challenging, and yet also encouraging; my ability to do well in them seemed to affirm my chosen profession. After the first semester of Chemistry 101 and four animal science courses, I fell in love! The following term, I dove in more, running for President of the Pre-Vet Club (which I won) and starting the heavy duty coursework (Physiology, Organic Chemistry, Biology, etc). I also started working at Humphrey, Giacopuzzi and Associates Equine Hospital, where I know I was hired because of my affiliation with Pierce.
All in all, Pierce opened doors for me that I didn't even know existed. I gained valuable animal experience on the farm and via the 181 program that is not only required to get into vet school, but also helpful in becoming a well-rounded individual who can manage their valuable time.
But I still think the most important benefit of going to a school like Pierce is the people I've meet. The role model pre-vet students of yesteryear and the veterinarians of today who came to visit periodically made the goal seem attainable ... They had actually achieved the goals themselves, and would share with us their strategies! Additionally, in my peers I've made lifelong friends at Pierce who augmented the support of professors and mentors. From many students who applied to veterinary school out of the Cal States and the UCs, I've heard that their undergrad peers were very competitive. They wouldn't help each other for fear it would impact each's ability to earn an A in a course. Since Pierce professors don't grade on a bell curve, I never found this to be true. Help was always around the corner from professors AND my peers, if I needed it. And the smaller class sizes aided that as well.
To sum up my story, after a year with Pierce only five requisite courses stood between me and a Davis application. I applied on a whim, at Dr. Shapiro's suggestion, mostly for the practice of it ... you know, to get my feet wet. UC Davis made it clear to me that it was my good grades and quality of work experience that merited my admission that first time around ... Pierce made this possible for me. I will always hold a place in my heart for the school that introduced me to a world I knew nothing about (agriculture) and made something that seemed to so daunting at first (getting into veterinary school), quite simple by following a plan.
A bit of advice for those who wish to follow in my path: No matter what, get straight-As in the sciences. That proves you care ... then get as much experience in the field you want to work in as you can (but not at the expense of your grades - they are the most important!). Study for the GRE so that you rank above the 80th percentile. And make sure you write a "personal" personal statement that gives the admissions committee a glimpse of the true you -- don't be shy. Oh, and most important, take it one day at a time.
soon-to-be "Dr." Shane Marie Nelson
UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2010
I must say that pretty much everything I know about ruminants I learned from you, and it helped so much when I was working at the State Fair in Sacramento! Perhaps when you're telling your students why they might need to know a bunch of production animal factoids and statistics, let them know those will come in handy if they decide to work the fair!
In case you're not aware yet, after students accept their offer of admission at Davis, they will be offered a short-term paid job opportunity working at the state fair before classes start. This is an excellent way to jump start your veterinary experience, because once classes start, there aren't a whole lot of hands-on animal experiences for the first 2 years. In the livestock nursery, I spent a lot of time educating the public on swine production (which I knew nothing about prior to taking your classes) and the care and management of livestock animals. I had to recall all those dairy cattle and goat statistics and breeds etc. for the milking demonstrations we put on for the public, and the whole time I was remembering your classes. I guess I didn't know how much I had learned about livestock until I found myself comfortably explaining production, physiology, and common diseases to my coworkers and the fair-goers.
Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for preparing me so well for veterinary school. I hope that someday I will pass on that favor to those following in my footsteps. The Pierce pre-vet program has been really one of my best experiences so far!
UC Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine
Class of 2011
All six of these Pierce Alumni entered UC Davis's Class of 2011 together.
A letter to the editor at the Pierce College newspaper.
I cannot praise the Pierce College Pre-Vet Program enough. It truly gave me guidance, direction, and hope in pursuing a dream of a lifetime. In Jan of 2005, I was in Colorado on a short tour as a Reserve personnel officer in the Air Force. I was recently married and trying to figure out what to do with my life after the tour was to end in the summer. I considered many career paths but what spoke to me most strongly was becoming a veterinarian. But how intimidating! How was I going to commit to such an undertaking—5+ years of school, zero experience in the field, and it is so competitive, I might not even be able to get in! Well, one night I was surfing around on the computer, looking for answers when I came across Doc Shapiro’s Pre-Vet website. I couldn't believe it. Here was a phenomenally successful program at a community college not even 30 miles from where I lived! Needless to say, I immediately sent him an email and the rest is history. I enrolled in the Pre-Vet Program core curriculum and hit the ground running. Not only did I learn the Animal Science basics, I was exposed to so many different hands-on animal experiences I can barely remember them all! Doc even got me a volunteer position at a biomedical research facility near my home where I helped take care of their animals. Believe it or not, I now work there full time and can guarantee working at this facility was a huge reason why I was selected to UC Davis. In sum, the Pre-Vet Program at Pierce gave me focus, confidence, the most diverse of experiences, a steady job I love, myriads of professional contacts, and an entirely new career. What other pre-professional program could ever claim all this?
What I like most about the program, however, is Doc’s personal touch. He cares about each and every one of his students and absolutely bends over backward to help them achieve their dreams. He is always in a good mood and always, always has a smile for you. Yes, Pierce has a farm, and Pierce has animals, and Pierce has excellent teachers and preparatory classes. But truly what makes the Pierce College Pre-Vet Program successful is Dr. Shapiro. It could never be what it is without his dedication, tirelessness, and absolute love for students, animals, and the veterinary career field. One day you should do a piece just on him—I am here to tell you it would be fascinating—he IS Pierce College history!
I can give you one other anecdote I think truly reflects how I feel about this program. During my interview to get into UC Davis, I was asked why I chose Pierce College. I looked the interviewer straight in the eyes and simply said, "It is the best." This simple answer was enough for him because it seemed he already knew.
Charles Cates, UC Davis Class of 2011
The Pierce College pre-veterinary program is an amazing program that not only helped me immensely in the preparation for veterinary school, but also provided me with an amazing mentor, Dr. Shapiro, who provided the guidance and motivation that I needed to help me achieve my goals. My two years at LAPC allowed me to gain invaluable large animal experience (cattle, sheep, goats, llama, alpaca, pigs, and poultry), which I otherwise would not have gotten. Now that I am in veterinary school I am able to put these priceless skills to use. I am forever grateful to Dr. Shapiro for not letting me give up on my dream when "the going got tough."
Giselle Pomeranc, Western University Class of 2011
First and foremost, I wouldn't have been here today, were it not for Dr. Shapiro. I have never met any mentor who cared about his students the way he does. Dr. Shapiro will help you in every way that he can, he will do it with a smile, and give you a piece of chocolate just for coming to him. Now that I am in vet school, I realize how good the pre-vet program is. It has prepared me perfectly for vet school; I am doing well in all of my classes, and the course load is not that tough mainly because of the workload I took at Pierce. I have met so many people through the pre-vet program, and I am still in contact with many of them. For those of you who decide to read this and are pondering whether to even attempt to start this program, I want to tell you to go for it. It may seem hard, and at times it will be, but it is not so bad, and with all the support that you will receive from everyone who is involved in the pre-vet program, you have nothing to worry about. The coursework does seem tedious, but it goes by so fast, and with each semester that passes by, you will feel more gratified with yourself. As time goes along you will only become more and more motivated to reach the end, and before you know it, you are applying to vet school. Again I have to send a thousand thanks to Dr. Shapiro and the rest of the agriculture department.
Tom Jukier, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine
Class of 2011
"I don't know if I would be in vet school without your guidance and the Pierce College Farm."
Claire Smith, University of Wisconsin
Class of 2009
Dr. Shane Nelson, Pierce alumnus 2004-2006, is pictured here in Nicaragua during January 2010 as a veterinary student volunteer practitioner with Rural Area Veterinary Services. The photo follows the completion of her first enucleation (eye removal) surgery in a horse. Dr. Nelson, a recent doctoral graduate of the veterinary medicine program at UC Davis, is currently completing a year-long internship in equine medicine and surgery at West Coast Equine in Somis, CA. Following her internship, she plans to practice equine ambulatory medicine in Southern California. She considers the two years of preparatory coursework at LA Pierce College an absolute necessity for securing admission to veterinary school, and when combined with hard work, sacrifice and perseverance it allowed her to attain her lifelong goal of becoming an equine veterinarian. The quality of guidance and support, challenging coursework, advanced laboratory experience, and opportunities for veterinary-related experience at both the Pierce Farm and private veterinary hospitals in the area is unparalleled; no other school comes close, especially not for the price. She would personally like to thank Dr. Leland Shapiro for his guidance and assistance when she was a student there. She explains, "The road to a DVM is long and windy and it's easy to get lost along the way, but attending Pierce significantly aids navigation making the route easy to follow if one brings the appropriate horsepower."