Growing up I was always surrounded by animals. In the Philippines, my dad bred and trained working dogs for the police force, while my brother and I would catch wild rabbits in our yard. When I was about 8 years old, my parents gave me my first pet, George the Chinchilla. Unfortunately, George became very sick for unknown reasons and passed away. Although sad, I really wondered: what happened to George? This is where my interest in veterinary medicine began.

Fast forward 5 years later, my dog, Cotton also became sick. She was losing hair, rapidly gaining weight, and became increasingly thirsty. I took her to our local veterinarian. There, Dr. Ron allowed me to watch them draw blood and retrieve urine from my dog. He completed diagnostics and explained to me the results – she has Cushing’s Disease. I did not know what this meant at the time, or even why she was sick, but we were able to control the disease, and this piqued my interest.

A few years later, I took my first set of college level science classes. It was fascinating to learn about the different biology systems. I truly found my love for science! After earning my associate degrees in Mathematics and Biology, I went on to attend the University of California, Davis as an Animal Science major. There, I was able to gain a variety of experiences working closely with both companion and farm animals.

I worked in various animal hospitals throughout my time in my undergraduate years. I started to learn about the ins and outs of veterinary medicine from several incredible doctors. In each hospital, I was able to dive deep into my passion for science and love for animals. As a recent college graduate, I now proudly work for Certified Cat Friendly Practice (Silver) and Certified Fear Free Hospital where I have gained so much knowledge. I am also currently applying to several veterinary schools in the United States.

As an avid problem solver, I find it exciting when doctors are able to make a diagnosis based on varied diagnostics and examining the physiology of a patient. In addition, it is incredible to witness such strong bonds between people and their pets, from the joys and excitement of having a new puppy to the sorrows of passing lives. Being a veterinarian will be very rewarding. I will be a voice for those that cannot speak and be an advocate for those that cannot defend themselves. And in serving these animals, I will be serving people, hoping to spread joy in the community.

Jillian De Leon 

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