Tailoring the Student Experience for Vet Success

Wielding a tool belt full of medical supplies, Patrice Sorensen vaccinates dairy cows at the Iowa State University Dairy Farm with the confidence and ease that comes with experience.

Sorensen, who graduated in May with an animal science degree, says she always knew what she wanted and strategically planned her college career to pursue her dream.

“I’ve been researching veterinary schools since I was in middle school,” Sorensen says.

Her research and focus paid off. In February, Sorensen came closer to her dream of becoming a veterinarian when she was accepted into the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine.

“When I called my mom to tell her I had to hold the phone away from my ear because she was so excited,” Sorensen says.

Joshua Selsby, associate professor of animal science and Sorensen’s adviser, says he’s not surprised.

“Patrice maximized all the opportunities from professional development to taking great internships with this goal in mind,” Selsby says. “She’s been an involved student and leader and has tailored her experiences to meet her goals.”

Sorensen grew up in North Mankato, Minnesota, and was involved in 4-H. She didn’t show animals, but always cared about animals. Her favorite animals are goats, so when she had the opportunity to intern at a goat farm she took it.

“I interned in New York at a goat farm with 80 goats and nine Alpacas,” Sorensen says. “We did a lot of work in rotational grazing and processing fiber.”

Her other internship experiences include working in public outreach at the Iowa State Fair with the Boulevard of Dairy Breeds and a study abroad experience in Ecuador.

“In Ecuador I gained experience vaccinating snakes and neutering dogs. It gave me practical experience and inspired me to do more international work,” says Sorensen.

During the academic year, Sorensen says she walked around seven miles a day, three days a week for two years while working at the Iowa State dairy farm. She collected tissue samples, cleaned stalls, drove a skid loader and vaccinated cow at the farm—she thrived on the variety and challenge of the work.

She was also an active member of the Alpha Sigma Kappa, a sorority for women interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). She served both as vice president of communications and operations in the sorority and in 2015 received the National Outstanding Leadership Award. Last summer she led a committee to organize the sorority’s national convention in Des Moines.

Sorensen has received numerous scholarships including the Fred Foreman Scholarship for Growth in Leadership and Development, M. E. Ensminger Scholarship, Thomas and Esther Ringkob Memorial Scholarship in Animal Science, Alpha Sigma Kappa Pride of Epsilon Alumnae Scholarship, Award for Competitive Excellence, Presidential Leadership and 4-H Achievement.

When asked what she would tell other students about pursuing a dream, Sorensen says, “find as many opportunities and experiences as you can.”His appointment at Iowa State is three-