COSAM Sophomore Prepares for Vet School through COSAM
The career that Auburn University student Santana Rojas plans to pursue was inspired by her partially blind cat, Martha. Santana is currently a sophomore studying microbiology through the College of Sciences and Mathematics (COSAM) with a concentration in pre-veterinary medicine.
“I can’t remember a time in my life that I didn’t know that I wanted to become a veterinarian,” Santana shared. “Each experience I had with animals, in or outside a veterinary atmosphere, just reinforced my love for this career. I hope to work with mixed breeds, ranging from small animals, like cats and dogs, to exotics, such as reptiles and birds. While my plan for now is to begin my veterinary career immediately after vet school, I am interested in specializing in either pathology or ophthalmology. Both of these specialties stem from an interest in my partially blind cat, Martha.”
Originally from Dothan, Ala., Santana chose to attend school at Auburn before ever setting foot on campus.
“Originally, I chose Auburn because my interests aligned with the academics,” she said. “I knew I wanted to become a veterinarian and Auburn University’s vet school was the one of the best. While I was nervous about attending a school I had never been to, I knew I made the right choice as soon as I walked around on campus.”
During her time at Auburn, Santana has worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the Wada Lab, working with zebra finches studying stress physiology. A lot of her time has been devoted to taking care of the birds as well as working on projects with graduate students.
“This has been an amazing experience as I been able to have hands-on learning for different lab techniques as well as learn about the general physiology of birds,” Santana explained. “For example, I’ve learned how to take blood samples from birds as well as engage in dissections. Participating in undergraduate research is definitely one of the most rewarding experience a COSAM student can have.”
While at Auburn, Santana was also awarded the Drs. Lacey and Hank Lee Annual Scholarship, a scholarship for pre-veterinary COSAM students. She has gained veterinary experience by shadowing a veterinarian and by also volunteering through Vida Volunteer, during which she traveled to Guatemala to work with veterinarians to promote and provide veterinary care.
“I was given the opportunity to have firsthand experience of surgeries and clinical check-ups as well as assist in some surgeries,” she said of the volunteer experience. “The most rewarding part of this trip, besides the experience, was seeing how happy the people were to have their animals taken care of.”
Santana said she feels it is also important to have passions outside of school and she has recently become interested in powerlifting.
“It’s something that I can both focus on to allow myself a break from school as well as something that keeps me healthy and active,” she said.
She said she is thankful to be a COSAM student because it has allowed her to engage with students from other cultures that have similar interests.
“Also, while most COSAM students are competitive, we are also very supportive of each other and push each other to work harder,” she said. “With the rigor of each class as well as the opportunities and competition within COSAM, I feel I am prepared for the next step in my career.”