Alumni Feature: MARIA-VICTORIA WALKER-GENOVESE (CLASS OF 2017)
My name is Maria-Victoria, and I am a Del alum who graduated in 2017. After my time at DEL, I completed my undergrad at the University of Toronto where I majored in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and minored in Immunology and Biology. My first year involved a lot of adjusting. University life is much less structured when compared to life at DEL, but with a strong work ethic and lots of motivation, I soon found my own rhythm.
I spent an incredible four years at UofT. I decided that I wanted to make the most of my time there and wanted to learn as much as possible. I chose courses that I genuinely enjoyed and that challenged me, despite the advice from many, to tailor my courses and course schedules to earn the highest grades possible. Some may not like this, but I am a strong believer in “learning for the sake of learning,” not for the goal of attaining a high GPA. I felt that going through my undergrad with their philosophy in mind would be a waste of my time. So, I did it my way… and my advice to anyone going into university is to take the courses you like, challenge yourself, and get involved in extracurriculars as well. It will help you in the long run, allowing you to build a better foundation and will make you more prepared for whatever comes next.
Another important aspect of my university experience was research. In my second year, I began shadowing in the labs within the Department of Immunology. I had stumbled into the world of immunology through courses I had “taken for fun” and found the subject fascinating. I loved the work that was being done using mouse models to study Crohn’s Disease and eventually worked there full time in the summer after I graduated.
As I mentioned earlier, I was also involved in a wide range of extracurriculars, specifically at Victoria College, where I lived for my first two years. I joined several clubs and intramural sports teams and later captained the Victoria College Women’s Intramural Field Hockey team. When I left residence, I joined Greek Life at Kappa and took on several leadership positions there as well.
But I also did more than join existing clubs. In my second year, I founded UofT’s Veterinary Medicine Club with the help of two fellow DEL grads. I was VMC’s President for its first three years in operation and through that experience came to realize the need for more pre-veterinary student support at UofT and beyond… In my final year, as I transitioned out of that role, I took it one step further and became the Inaugural President of the Canadian Pre-Veterinary Medical Association, a Canada wide not-for-profit organization aimed at helping provide resources and support to Canadian students looking to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. In March 2022, we held our first ever CPVMA Symposium and I was delighted to see some current DEL students attend!
Throughout my time at UofT, I continued (and continue!) to work part-time at the veterinary clinic I began volunteering at way back when I was a DEL student. During the summer months, I took advantage of the extra time to work in veterinary clinics, volunteer in veterinary related roles, and one summer I took a large animal internship in Tennessee where I stayed on a Black Angus Cattle Ranch to shadow a large animal vet.
When I graduated from UofT (‘21), I decided to move to Guelph and begin a Masters of Science in the Department of Clinical Studies at the Ontario Veterinary College. I have always wanted to be a vet, and specifically a surgeon, so I thought what better place to be than at the OVC? I tailored my Masters to be focused on small animal surgery, specifically on brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome and the surgical procedures used to treat it. I also began working as an On-Call Emergency Surgery Student Technician in both small and large animal surgery and a Hospital Assistant in the Neonatal Foal Program. Between working on my Masters and at my two jobs, you can usually find me running around the hospital at the most random hours asking lots of questions and helping out wherever I can!
Outside of my work at the OVC, I am also currently taking part in several larger veterinary related organizations including the Latinx Veterinary Medical Association, the Canadian Collective for Equity in Veterinary Medicine, and again act as President of the Canadian Pre-Veterinary Medical Association for the second year now. As to what the future holds, I hope to complete my Masters by the end of the summer after which I’ll be working for a year before reapplying to vet school. One way or another I’ll get there!
I thought I would end this reflection with some advice for the high school students reading. First, life isn’t linear. Life has taken me in so many directions and thrown me so many curveballs. Most of which I never planned for or expected, and stressed me out as I tried to figure out what to do next. But although unexpected, I learned a lot and what resulted were some of the best opportunities. So don’t stress too much, work hard, and take advantage of the opportunities that do present themselves and you’ll figure things out as you go. Second, make the most of the time you have. It’s the one thing we can’t buy or make more of. But also learn to set boundaries and set aside time for yourself, don’t run yourself into the ground (I’ve learned that the hard way!). And third, don’t give up. There have been many people in my life that at one point or another tried to discourage me from pursuing my dreams. I still have a ways to go but I’m slowly getting there… so believe in yourself, because trust me you are capable of much more than you may think.
Ontario Veterinary College MSc Clinical Studies Student - Small Animal Surgery
Canadian Pre-Veterinary Medical Association - President