What do you do every day?
I am a veterinarian. When I first graduated veterinary school, I practiced exclusively on horses. I switched my focus to dogs and cats in 2002. I am now co-owner of an animal hospital in downtown Chicago and practice preventive care, surgery, and internal medicine on people’s pets.
Why do you love it?
What’s not to love! My dream as a kid was to work with animals, and that’s what I do every day. Most people go into this field because they love animals but they don’t realize the extent that they are required to work with people, often in stressful and even frightening situations! I love animals but I also really value the human interaction. I have client relationships that surpass 16 years. I participate in their joy of new puppies/kittens, the healthy adult years, through illness and health challenges, then ultimately assist in the closure of life with kindness, love, and dignity. During this span of time, I often get to know my clients and their families on an intimate level.
What were your moments of fear and challenges in your career?
I’ve been sexually harassed many times, especially in equine practice, and have been told that as “a girl”, I probably couldn’t handle the work. I’ve also been criticized, as a mother, for working too much and endangering myself physically. These issues don’t really exist now in small animal practice. In fact, small animal practice is now female-dominated and quality of work/life balance has become a topic of focus in our profession.
What are some of the latest innovations in science that you are most excited about?
I love the newest advances in stem cell therapy for canine osteoarthritis. Stem cell therapy seems to have the potential for a lot more applications in the future for other inflammatory conditions.
Where did you grow up?
Madison, WI…where every pizza delivery driver has a PhD!
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Mrs. Tenia Jenkins-Stovall. She pulled me out of my comfort zone and taught me how to understand people. She was remarkable teacher.
Describe an experience where you adapted your approach to resolve a sticky situation.
As a service business, we experience many minor “sticky situations”, my approach is to correct any mistakes we may have made but concurrently to appreciate and support my employees. I defend my staff because we’re a team and I trust them.
What is your unique talent?
I can drive a forklift and can also recite the script of the movie Friday word for word from beginning to end!
Tell us about your personal style.
Lip balm and extra dog poop bags. I keep them not only for my dogs but if I get the sense that someone isn’t going to pick up their dog’s poop, I will approach them in a friendly manner and give them a bag.
Is there a current book or book you love?
The Knife Man: The Extraordinaire Life and Times of John Hunter by Wendy Moore. John Hunter has been deemed the father of modern surgery. Believe it or not, he was considered a maverick in the 1700s because he believed that knowledge of anatomy was an important factor in a surgeon’s training!
What is your favorite website or fun activity?
I love to sail!
Who inspires you?
I have too many inspirations to list, however the Finnish concept of Sisu is central to my being. It means courage and determination in the face of adversity. Sisu is a powerful, almost magical, reserve of strength, persistent determination, and resolve one can draw upon during times of hardship or to overcome adversity.
What’s next for you?
I intend to continue to mentor veterinarians and veterinary staff. I want to pay it forward…it’s such a great profession. I hope to become a grandmother someday, and I would love to be able to travel more.