Today we are pleased to introduce Alena Vasquez, a true Oregonian at heart who manages to balance her love for animals, science, and writing.
Please share your background so we can get to know you better. What career are you in (or working towards) and what inspired you to choose this path?
I am an Ecampus student living in Eugene, Oregon. I was born and raised in various parts of California but always felt like I belonged in Oregon. I recently switched majors from social science (archaeology) to science and I am studying biology with the pre-vet option. Three years ago I started volunteering at the local humane society as a dog walker. I started because I was bored and needed an activity to occupy my time. It quickly became much more than that for me. I started walking dogs like it was a full time job. I was at the shelter almost every day, for at least 4 hours at a time. I joined the behavior modification program at the local pound to learn how to positively modify behaviors and train the behaviorally-challenged dogs I was always drawn to. While exploring career options for archaeology, I realized nothing would make me as happy as I was when I was helping animals. I took a year off to dive fully into the rescue community and started volunteering with a local trap-neuter-return organization where I learned invaluable skills about cat behavior and the importance of spay and neuter. I knew that whatever I did with my life, it would need to be focused around the neglected animals in my community. I am studying veterinary medicine so I can take my DVM and become either a veterinarian in a high volume spay and neuter clinic or a shelter veterinarian.
How does our online general chemistry sequence relate to your career goals?
I am taking the entire 200-level general chemistry sequence online and will probably take organic chemistry online as well. This is my first year of being a science major and I have already completed the 200-level physics and biology sequence alongside the general chemistry. I have found chemistry to be one of the most important classes for understanding the rest of my curriculum and having this background has enabled me to be successful in the rest of my classes. For example, we just covered the evolution of the swim bladder in biology and having the background in acid base chemistry from 232 and 233 made it very easy to understand how an increase in lactic acid in the blood supply around the swim bladder causes hemoglobin to give off oxygen against concentration gradients. Chemistry was essential to understanding the attractions that hold DNA together and how trees move water up their xylem. I’m really looking forward to how chemistry will impact my studies in upper division classes.
The support I have found while taking general chemistry has also impacted me. Margie Haak was available day and night for questions and extremely supportive. Her course was by far one of the most challenging I’ve taken but it was incredibly rewarding to get an A and be successful in it. Margie is a huge inspiration to me and she has been so supportive of me, my success, and my goals. She is a teacher who will go above and beyond for her students and I feel really lucky that I was able to be a part of her classroom.
What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
My poetry has been published in 3 anthologies and I’ve been writing a book for maybe 5 years now.