“Falling in love” with horses at the tender age of four influenced Julie Edmondson’s career path.
Although she does not hail from a family where farming is a major tradition, she has always possessed a striking passion for animals.
“From a young age, I always knew I wanted to be a vet. I did horse riding all through school, pony camps as a young kid, worked in yards, hunted, loaned ponies and horses and owned my own,” she explained to Catherina Cunnane, editor of That’s Farming.
“I studied ag science for Leaving Cert and went lambing on a family friend’s farm as part of my project, which I was awarded 98% for, an A1.”
“It really pushed me to go for veterinary, but I knew it was going to be a struggle to get the points with my dyslexia.”
The 23-year-old placed UCD’s animal science degree programme as the second option on her CAO. She decided that if she did not receive her first offer, she would study this course, with a view to undertaking a graduate programme at the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine thereafter.
“I was going to study veterinary one way or another, nothing was going to get in the way of that. I ended up getting 515 points when I sat my Leaving Cert in 2015, so I accepted animal science. At that point in my life, veterinary felt a million miles away from me.”
“The four year of animal science flew by and I loved it. I completed my Professional Work Experience (PWE) module all around the world; in Ireland, lambing and calving, in America on massive dairy farms even riding westerns rodeo horses, in Germany on a piggery and dairy farm.”
Julie said she lived for the hands-on experience and it furthered her determination and desire to apply for veterinary medicine.
Studying at Ireland’s only veterinary medicine school was always her dream, so naturally, it was her first choice; however, she was not blind to the strong level of competition.
“I sat the GAMSAT during final year which was tough h. I didn’t believe I would get UCD but when I got the call for the interview, I was stunned.”
“My cousin, Peter Edmondson, is a vet. Having wrote several books on mastitis and being a dairy specialist, he has always been somewhat of an inspiration to me.”
“His encouragement and guidance were a great asset for my interview. Out of 200 applicants, I was one of 6 who was accepted to study four years of veterinary medicine via graduate entry.” the Dublin native added.
Julie enrolled in the course in 2019 and will begin the second of her fourth-year in September. “I’m really loving the course, it’s still pretty surreal that I’m studying veterinary.”
“I love the practical element where we were in labs most days, prior to Covid-19 restrictions. It is a high-intensity course and requires a lot of studying but also using common sense and being of a practical nature.”
“My highlight to date is being out on placement, beginning to understand more and put some theory into practice.”
She completed several placements during her undergraduate studies in order to gain experience for her veterinary application.
She also volunteers weekly for the Irish Blue Cross as a small animal veterinary assistant for the last two-and-a-half-years.
As part of her current course, she gained experience on a sheep farm in March and is now currently undertaking an equine veterinary-related placement.
Julie advises aspiring veterinary medicine students to gain some experience to “see if it is truly for you”.
“You can study veterinary if you really want to, all it takes is grit and determination. If it really is your dream, make it happen.”
“CAO points are not everything and I’m an example of that. There are so many ways to study veterinary and if you’re willing, there’s a way to get there,” she added.
“To a certain extent, my strengths and abilities have definitely been questioned against male counterparts on placements,” admitted Julie, who is a firm believer that actions speak louder than words.
“I’ve been very lucky to have some amazing placements and have worked alongside inspiring women, but I have definitely experienced prejudice – especially since I don’t come from a farming background and studied a bachelor of ag science.”
Looking ahead, Julie hopes to go abroad to either America or Australia once she becomes a fully qualified veterinary practitioner.
“I want to practice in equine, maybe do an internship programme in equine surgery. I would never say never to furthering my studies and what’s another certificate or degree when I’ll already will have two?” she concluded.
To share your story, email – firstname.lastname@example.org