This month, Jeremy Kiene shares his story of how he decided to change his career from Renaissance Literature to Veterinary Medicine, and his experience with OSU Ecampus Chemistry along the way.
How did you find our chemistry program? Any advice for us that would have made that process easier for you?
To be honest, I found out about OSU’s online chemistry program through a late-night Google search, conducted in a moment of despair when I was worried I’d never be able to get into a college chemistry course without taking on a mountain of debt by applying for admission into a second four-year bachelor’s degree program. The descriptions of the courses on the program website immediately piqued my interest, and I think I applied for admission for the fall quarter’s CH 121 the next day. Navigating the program’s stylishly designed and very informative website was no problem, and once I’d been admitted, I found OSU’s online student services equally user-friendly.
Please share your background so we can get to know you better—how did you end up where you are on this journey?
I grew up in Colorado and now live in Southern California. In what now feels like a former life even though it wasn’t that long ago, I earned a Ph.D. in English, and for several years I taught Renaissance literature, first at a small liberal arts college on the East Coast and then at large research university on the West Coast. But a life-long love of animals, combined with volunteer experiences starting in graduate school and some serendipitous meetings with some really smart and inspiring people led me to a different calling. Now I am preparing to attend a DVM program in hopes of becoming a veterinarian.
What inspired you to choose the career path you are working towards?
I’ve always been fascinated by the natural sciences, and I’ve always loved animals of all kinds (not just my own pets, but just about any kind of wildlife you could mention), but it wasn’t until I’d already gone down a very different path and had success in a very different career that I came around to thinking seriously about veterinary medicine. I studied English literature in graduate school, but during that time I also started volunteering at an animal shelter regularly. It was a joy spending time with all the dogs and cats waiting for their permanent homes, but I also saw more than my share of animal suffering and human ignorance and cruelty that made me wish I could do something more direct, more tangible, more profound in the service of animals and their people. Fast-forward to three years ago when I met a veterinary oncologist who had herself come to veterinary medicine following a successful career in another field. She is now a mentor and dear friend of mine, and her encouragement and example convinced me that with a lot of sacrifice and hard work, it might be possible to make the radical change in my professional and personal life that I’ve since undertaken.
How will your OSU online classes help you to accomplish your career goals?
Since I’m not seeking a second bachelor’s degree, I’ve been in the process of cobbling together veterinary prerequisite courses in the sciences from several institutions, and due to extremely high student demand (and my place at the end of the registration queue as a non-degree seeking student), it’s often been a challenge to get a seat in courses offered at local colleges and universities (even the one where I was until recently employed as a faculty member!). This is what initially brought me to Oregon State’s online general chemistry sequence. When I discovered OSU’s program, it meant that I could complete my chemistry prerequisites on a schedule that worked for me, at a reasonable tuition rate, with faculty at a top-notch research university (added bonus: OSU has a vet school, so with any luck this is just the beginning of my association with Beaver Nation!). Being in the general chemistry sequence really was a highlight of my time in higher education. Reflecting back on the experience, I am still astonished at how much I learned, how much my confidence grew, and most of all at how much I came to adore a subject that, I’ll admit, terrified me back when I was first exposed to it in high school. Even better, I get to use what I’ve learned every day at work when I’m mixing medications and calculating fluid rates for my animal patients!
Do you have any advice for other online students?
Be disciplined. Make a schedule and stick to it, and plan on putting in some work on your online courses every day. When your physical presence in a lecture hall or seminar room isn’t required at particular times during the week, it can be tempting to take days off here and there, but success in chemistry is all about practice and repetition. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to ask questions and seek out extra help. When I first enrolled in OSU’s online general chemistry sequence, I was worried that I’d get lost in the shuffle of a large lecture course, with the online format presenting an additional challenge since I’d miss out on direct interaction with faculty and classmates to help solidify my knowledge base. These fears were unfounded, however, as the online discussion forums offered plenty of opportunities to seek clarification and test out my understanding. For the sequence I took last year, Dr. Marita Barth and her staff of teaching assistants were wonderful—they were excited about the subject matter, eager to share their expertise, and amazingly quick, thorough, and helpful in their responses to my questions. It was plain to me throughout the sequence that their number one priority was putting their students in the best possible position to reach their goals.
What is next for you?
I just finished applying to veterinary programs for the first time this fall, so hopefully vet school is next. But I’ve got my work cut out for me, that’s for sure! I’m employed as a technician at an animal hospital, and when I’m not there I am doing my best to finish my outstanding prerequisites (including, I hope, OSU’s online organic chemistry sequence starting this winter!) before fall 2016 rolls around.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I love traveling and being outdoors (hiking, camping, and photographing landscapes and wildlife), going to art and history museums, tasting beer at microbreweries, watching just about any sporting event (soccer, hockey, and football are my favorites), watching movies, and reading poetry, sci-fi novels, and non-fiction.
Do you have a family you would like to tell us about?
I live with my brilliant and patient wife (she is also an English professor—we met in graduate school) and our two dogs (Homer and Winnie) and four cats (Walt, Quinn, Brey, and Blaze). We regularly foster for a rescue organization that pulls dogs from high-kill municipal shelters, so more often than not there’s a third dog in the rotation. It’s a full house, but we take pride in keeping things clean and orderly…or at least trying!
Thank you Jeremy for sharing your story! We wish you luck with your future endeavors, educational and otherwise!