As part of our HSOG ReConnect campaign, we caught up with former pupil, Sophie Herron, from the class of 2011.
I always wanted to be a vet. However, as notoriously one of the hardest degrees to get into – it wasn’t going to be easy. I knew I’d have no trouble gaining the academic grades required, but many weeks of varied work experience and indeed a good impression at interview were also needed to be successful in getting a place.
I was always known as the quiet/shy one at school (something my current colleagues would certainly disagree with) and the thought of having to be interviewed for vet school was rather terrifying. I received some excellent interview prep from my then chemistry teacher Mrs O’Neil and was given some great pep talks from my sixth form advisor, Mr Toner, when I received multiple rejections from applications.
My final interview took place at the Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead campus in Potters Bar, just outside of London.
I had only visited London on two previous occasions – both school trips – for the Transitus “night at the museum” overnight stay in the London science museum, and the fourth year Globe Theatre trip. During the few days down in London for the interview, I also visited the Camden campus where the first two years of the course are taught and did some sightseeing. I was keen to be away from home for university so was extremely excited at the possibility of spending five years studying in London. I was delighted to receive an offer from the RVC just a few weeks later.
During the summer break between leaving HSOG and starting at the RVC in 2011, I spent a month away in Kumasi, Ghana on a veterinary volunteer project. This was my first time travelling alone, and indeed in a developing country and it was an amazing experience and lesson in interpersonal skills and of course sparked a love of travelling for years to come.
The next five years were incredibly tough and bore no resemblance to an ordinary uni life, but after a huge amount of hard work I finally graduated in July 2016. I didn’t have a great deal of confidence in the beginning, so applied to various graduate programmes in the hopes of finding my feet as a new vet with an appointed mentor and additional training. I accepted a job in Leeds at a busy 24-hour clinic which is where I spent my first year in practice and still live now. After a short stint at the PDSA hospital in Bradford, followed by several months practice-hopping as a full time locum, I eventually decided that routine daytime practice was not for me and took the leap into out of hours emergency work, taking my current job at Vets Now in Sheffield in March 2019.
Gone are the days of vaccine after vaccine, wellness exams and claw clipping- I studied hard for five years to put my problem-solving brain to good use seeing the “real stuff” at the pet equivalent of A and E. Night work is long, unsociable hours, including bank holidays (and Christmas Day of course!) and is often brutally emotionally challenging, with a much higher mortality rate in the emergency setting, but it’s often exciting, and the hours leave adequate time off during the week for my other passions- cooking, martial arts, and of course travelling!
I take any rest time I can to go anywhere that takes my fancy (and has good food) and in recent years have travelled to Japan, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Finnish Lapland, Switzerland, the Galapagos Islands- and others!
I’m currently studying towards a postgraduate certificate in emergency medicine and surgery and of course still have many travel bucket list destinations to visit- there’s always more to see out there!