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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘The Leaving Cert is not the end of the world’ – vet student (22) in Poland

That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with Vincent Sweeney, a 22-year-old veterinary medicine student from Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim, in this week’s Student Focus series.

“We have a small suckler farm in Kiltyclogher which was passed down from my grandad to my father. It is not the biggest farm, but it keeps my father busy alongside his plant hire business.

Since I was young, I always enjoyed being on the farm. When I was around 7 or 8, the local vet was called out to do a C-section on one of the cows, and it was after this that, that I got the idea of being a vet into my head!

I never really thought of any other job I wanted to do since then.

After the vet visit and doing work experience in Ark Veterinary Clinic in Belleek during transition year in school, I knew veterinary was what I wanted to do.

That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with Vincent Sweeney, a 22-year-old veterinary medicine student from Co Leitrim.

Studying veterinary medicine in Warsaw

I began my studies at Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Warsaw in 2019 and am set to graduate in 2025.

During my Leaving Cert, I heard of another previous student in my school who had started first year of veterinary in Warsaw, so I looked into it as it seemed like a good choice.

I applied for the entrance exam for Warsaw in April 2019 during my Leaving Cert and received a place in the course before I even sat my Leaving Cert, depending on the grades I received.

This took a lot of pressure off during the Leaving Cert, knowing I had a place already secured.

The Leaving Cert is not the end of the world. Travelling abroad to study is getting even more popular with Irish students, and it is like home away from home.

Moving away from home at the start can be tough, I will admit, but once you get settled, it is grand.

Thankfully, I do not regret my decision to head off to study in Warsaw, where many good memories and friends have been made.

In terms of the course, our first three years revolved around a lot of preclinical theory work. This year, we spend most of our time in the university dairy farm and equine hospital, where all the theory is finally coming together.

I am currently in my fourth year with another year-and-a-half to go, and it is a lot more practical now, so that is enjoyable, and it is quite rewarding when things are starting to make sense.

As a break from studying, we have a very strong GAA club out in Warsaw, where we travel around Europe every semester to various tournaments.


I probably will end up back working in Ireland, but I also wouldn’t mind travelling to Canada/ New Zealand/ Australia for a while after graduating.

Thankfully, all the Irish students who have just graduated from Warsaw last month already have a job secured in Ireland, the UK or Canada, where there is still a huge demand for Vets.

The plan is to start in a mixed practice, and sure, we will see what happens after that!

For now, the main goal is to finish out the degree and hopefully start off in a practice with good support for new grads.”

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