As Fort Valley State University’s veterinary technology program continues to grow, Rose-Ann Gillespie aims to connect more students to laboratory animal medicine through her new appointment with the Southeastern Branch of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (SEAALAS).
The membership organization selected the FVSU veterinary technician to serve as president-elect, effective in March. This is a three-year term covering Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Puerto Rico. SEAALAS is dedicated to advancing the humane care and use of laboratory animals for the benefit of human and animal health through education, training and professional development.
“All of these new medicines and technology that you hear about are developed with animals. It is not only medicine for people; it is medicine and food for animals. It is not just cleaning mice cages; it is isolating genes for cancer. It is working on spinal cord injuries, genetic markers and cell rejuvenation. It is a complex and broad field. Bringing as many opportunities to explore to students is very important,” Gillespie said.
Serving as president-elect the first year of her term, she looks forward to being that link between the organization and schools offering veterinary technology.
“With me having one foot in both worlds, it will be advantageous for both of us. Our students are already trained, which gives them the edge for these often lucrative jobs,” Gillespie said.
Active in the classroom at FVSU, she runs the laboratories for animal medicine, microbiology, clinical pathology, parasitology and radiology. She said the students are well prepared upon graduating. “About a third of them who apply to vet school get in,” Gillespie said.
The animal lover credits her father for inspiring her to become a veterinary technician. Noticing her sensitivity as a young child, her father realized that a career as a veterinarian would not be a good fit for her. “When you are growing up, you do not know that there are veterinary nurses,” she said.
After the 20-year Navy veteran retired from the military as a meteorologist, she decided to pursue her dream job. She earned both her bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology in 2006 and master’s degree in animal science in 2008 at FVSU. The 10-year professional started her career at her alma mater in aquaculture and then transitioned to veterinary science in 2013.
“I have too many dreams to do the same one twice. I found a way that I could help animals without having to be the guy in charge,” Gillespie said. The Massachusetts native said she never imagined a career doing the two things that she loves. “I like animals and I like teaching, so I am happy,” she said.
Using this passion to fuel her as she serves on the SEAALAS, Gillespie’s goal is to offer an outreach program to introduce any FVSU student to veterinary technology. For assistance, she is working with the Society of Laboratory Animal Veterinary Technicians, which shares clinical, surgical and technical ideas among its membership.
FVSU offers the only four-year veterinary technology program in Georgia, with the spring 2019 student enrollment currently at more than 100. For more information about the program, visit https://bit.ly/2SyDD87.