Veterinary student Estella Perez Hovland seeks adventure. She has traveled the world, and she obtained a M.B.A. from Griffith University in Australia. Upon returning to the U.S., she decided to get a doctoral degree in veterinary medicine, and she spent a year and a half at UGA preparing for the venture by taking animal science courses. Now in her final year of vet school, she is the former vice president and former president of the student chapter of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners. She has completed externships all over the world—many with the U.S. Department of Agriculture—and has won several scholarships. After graduation, she hopes to join a veterinary practice specializing in food animals and eventually become a consultant to the dairy industry.
Alabama School of Math and Science, Mobile, Alabama
D.V.M. with an emphasis in food animal health and management
M.B.A. from Griffith University in Australia
B.S. in Biology from the University of Alabama
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
Prior to veterinary school, I spent a year and a half taking animal science courses at UGA. During this time, I was chosen as a College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Ambassador. The Ambassadors are involved in student recruitment and public relations for the college. During my first three years of veterinary school, I served one year as vice-president of the student chapter of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (scAABP) and one year as president of scAABP. I have received numerous awards including the AABP Foundation-Pfizer Animal Health scholarship, the USDA Multicultural Scholarship, the Dr. James Dee/Webster Veterinary Supply Scholarship, the Fred Gent Food Animal Scholarship, the AVMA Student Externship Stipend, the International Veterinary Exchange Committee Scholarship, the AABP Education Fund Grant, the AABP Student Recognition Award and the AABP Amstutz Scholarship. I have spent my summers completing externships across the U.S. and abroad. During the first summer of veterinary school, I completed externships across the U.S. including working on a dairy farm in Florida, working with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in Michigan, working with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service in Idaho, and working at a food animal practice in California. During my second summer, I was chosen to be the UGA representative at the USDA APHIS Smith-Kilborne Foreign and Emerging Animal Diseases Training Program held at Cornell University and Plum Island in New York. I also worked at two different food animal practices in England, and I attended the World Buiatrics Congress in Budapest, Hungary. In March, I completed an externship in Belgium where I learned to perform Cesarean sections on Belgian Blue cattle and during June and July, I attended the Summer Dairy Institute at Cornell University.
I chose to attend UGA because…
…of the school’s reputation and high rankings among veterinary schools in the Southeast. After completing my master’s degree in Australia and backpacking in Europe, I wanted to return to the Southeastern U.S. to obtain my doctorate degree. The College of Veterinary Medicine at UGA has a growing food animal program with very well-respected faculty who will help me achieve my goals. I am very happy to be a student at the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, and I feel my education here has prepared me for a successful future in food animal practice.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
…participating in activities organized by the student chapter of the American Association of Bovine Practitioners. I love being able to share information with my fellow veterinary students as well as the general public about our club or about bovine veterinary medicine in general. Events like the annual open house at the veterinary school give me the opportunity to inform the public about bovine-related topics including diet, anatomy, production and management. Other events like our annual calf processing—where we castrate bull calves, administer vaccinations, place ear tags and apply fly control—attracts veterinary students with little to no background with food animals.
When I have free time, I like…
…to travel. It’s my obsession. When I was sixteen years old, I traveled out of the country for the first time in my life. I took a school trip to Costa Rica, which at that time was a lot less developed, and there were numerous bugs flying about (and landing in my food). I’ve now extensively traveled in Europe, North America, Central America and Australia in addition to parts of the Caribbean, South America and Africa.
The craziest thing I’ve done is…
…go to Australia for a year and a half to get a master’s degree. After arriving at the Coolangatta Airport, I hailed a cab and realized that I had no clue how to go about starting my new temporary life. I needed to find a place to live, buy a car and get a job. I also needed to get some sleep after the 20 hour flight. I told the cab to take me to a reasonably priced hotel. The next morning, I went to the closest bus stop and met two other foreign students, one from India and one from Sweden. They were both looking for a place to live so we decided to team up to apartment search and then we became roommates. That was when I knew that I was about to embark on a unique and very rewarding adventure.
My favorite place to study is…
…my house. I really love the conveniences of home. I like being close to my books, color printer, comfortable desk, good lighting, good food, homemade tea/coffee and, of course, the company of my two wonderful pets!
My favorite professor is…
…Dr. Corrie Brown. She believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself. She encourages me to leave my comfort zone, to face my fears and grow stronger in the process. Dr. Brown understands and supports my international travel and the opportunities to broaden my horizons. She also has an amazing teaching style and the ability to make students want to learn. That is not an easy task, especially three years into veterinary school!
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
…my great grandmother, Dinah Weaver, who died in the 1980s when I was still very young. I am a member of the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians, the only Choctaw community in the state of Alabama, and my great grandmother lived for more than 90 years bearing witness to many changes not only in the world but within our own tribe as well. My memories of my great grandmother are few, but I do remember her still walking to the store in her 90s, as well as cooking and keeping the young kids in line. She exuded strength and character. I would love be able to sit and hear her stories about my family, my tribe and my country’s intricate past.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
…start a corporate retreat in the country. I would like to develop the land to encourage wildlife to live, eat and seek refuge. I would build a resort in a log cabin/country style. There would be walking trails throughout the wildlife preserve and there would also be team building options available like ropes courses and horseback riding.
After graduation, I plan to…
…join a multi-veterinarian food animal (preferably bovine only) practice. I would like to be part of a large practice with veterinarians that are dedicated to the dairy industry but also possess specific interests within that field, which include on-farm training, developing programs specifically for mastitis, vaccination, and reproduction, and analyzing farm designs and equipment. I will continue to expand my knowledge and abilities and exchange information with my fellow associates to contribute to the greater effectiveness of the practice. Eventually, I would like to obtain board certification in dairy practice and focus more on dairy consulting.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
…working at the UGA dairy farm. I was able to experience the various aspects of dairy production, albeit on a small scale. I learned about cattle husbandry, housing, and management through caring for calves, milking cows and assisting in medical treatments. I also began to learn about normal cow behavior through observation and evaluation. This experience laid the foundation for my interest in bovine veterinary medicine.