Brittany Feldhaeusser didn’t always want to become a veterinarian, but thanks to the strong science program, research opportunities and veterinary college at UGA, she found her true calling in life—and compiled an impressive academic record along the way.
Bluffton High School
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Bachelor of Science in Agriculture; Animal Science (2013)
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
As an undergraduate, I was an Honors student and heavily involved with research. I worked at the vet college in Dr. Robert Gogal’s lab with the oncology team studying the effectiveness of a novel tyrosine kinase inhibitor on feline injection-site sarcoma cells. A side project studying the effects of different cancer cell storage conditions was created from this and culminated in my first primary author publication. I won second place with this work in the poster presentation at the annual Science of Veterinary Medicine Symposium and also gave an oral presentation at the CURO Symposium.
During this time, I worked as an undergraduate chemistry lab teaching assistant, as well as at a veterinary clinic on weekends, and I was an active member of the pre-vet club. I graduated summa cum laude with honors in 2013, was recognized as the CAES Amazing Senior, and was accepted in the top 10 percent of the College of Veterinary Medicine class of 2017.
In vet school I serve as a senator for the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association and was voted vice president of my class, which allowed me to organize the annual open house event last semester. I received the Bruce Hollett Award for Student Leadership, Service and Outreach from the Phi Zeta Veterinary Honor Society and the Dr. John T. & Loraine Westbrook Bradberry Scholarship for involvement in professional activities. I was accepted into the Georgia Veterinary Scholars Program and spent the summer of 2014 with Dr. Simon Platt and Shanta Dhar evaluating the effect of nanoparticle-delivered cisplatin as a potential brain tumor treatment in dogs. I presented this research at the National Merial-NIH Symposium at Cornell University, as well as the 2014 Science of Veterinary Medicine Symposium, and plan to submit it as my second primary author publication by the end of the year.
I currently work overnight shifts every weekend at the Animal Emergency Hospital in Watkinsville. I get to see a variety of exciting emergency cases and practice real life skills such as blood draws, catheter placement, radiographs, and assisting in surgery and resuscitation efforts. It is worth the lost hours of sleep when I get to apply what I’ve been learning in class all week on a live patient that needs our help in the middle of the night.
Family Ties to UGA:
None, but I have now been able to convert my family to die-hard Georgia fans, so hopefully someone will follow in my footsteps!
I chose to attend UGA because…
… of the amazing College of Veterinary Medicine and the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities. I did not always want to become a veterinarian, but once I realized how much I loved science, research and, of course, animals, it was the obvious choice. UGA is one of the few schools that not only allows, but actually encourages undergraduate participation in research, and my experiences thus far, with both CURO and the CVM, have proven time and again that I made the right decision.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
I love the rodeo that is held in the spring. It is student-run and an incredibly fun night every year. I also just like walking through North Campus when the trees and gardenia bushes are in bloom.
When I have free time, I like…
… to spend time with my husband and our two little dogs. We have a Yorkie and a Boston terrier, and it is so fun to take them camping or to the beach. We also try to catch as many concerts as we can, and we love to cruise to different destinations around the Caribbean.
The craziest thing I’ve done is…
… travel to Bordeaux, France, as an exchange student in high school without knowing a word of French. I lived with French families and attended the local school, so it was a complete immersion experience. I became comfortable communicating and completing schoolwork within a few months and eventually formed several long-lasting friendships with my classmates and other exchange students.
My favorite place to study is…
… at my house, with my faithful companion, Kitzel, by my side. If she has been paying attention, she might know as much about veterinary medicine as I do!
My favorite professor is…
In undergrad at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, it was definitely William Graves, who taught animal reproduction and made every class enjoyable. He was such a great advocate and source of encouragement for me, especially as I was applying to vet school, and I will always appreciate that. Now that I am in vet school, although it’s almost impossible to choose, I would have to say Dr. Cynthia Ward. She is an internal medicine specialist who presents clinically relevant material in such an enthusiastic and positive manner that you can’t help but learn it for life and love it in the process.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
I would choose my own family. I don’t get to see them very often, so even an afternoon would be a great treat. My parents are hilarious and can always brighten my day, and my little sisters are both brilliantly entertaining in their own ways. My husband balances me out perfectly, and fits in well with the group, so when we all get together at Christmas it is my favorite time of the year.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
… train to be a professional equestrian. Horses and show jumping used to be an all-consuming passion of mine that was eventually abandoned when other responsibilities took priority in college. Now, whenever we go down to the barns for class I find myself wishing I had a horse of my own that I could continue to show and let my life revolve around again.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
… charter a boat and travel around the world, stopping as many places as possible. I love experiencing new cultures, foods and landscapes, but I haven’t traveled nearly as much as I’d like yet.
After graduation, I plan to…
… pursue an internship and residency in small animal oncology and become a board-certified specialist. It would be wonderful if I could eventually work in academia, with both clinical and research responsibilities.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
It would have to be graduation. I am the first person in my family to graduate from college, so it was a pretty big deal, but I had been so focused on getting into vet school that the enormity of this accomplishment didn’t hit me until I saw how proud my parents were on that day. Also, I know it’s almost unheard of, but I had never been in Sanford Stadium before then, so that was really exciting for me!