LSUA student receives early entry to LSU Veterinary School
ALEXANDRIA, La. (LSUA) - From an early age on her family’s cattle ranch in Hessmer, Avia Laborde dreamed of becoming a veterinarian.
Her experiences taking care of and showing cattle from the Oak Alley Angus Ranch and participating in 4-H through the LSU AgCenter, confirmed the notion that being a large animal vet was her ultimate goal.
Upon her graduation from Avoyelles Public Charter School in 2018, Avia decided to make LSUA her new home.
“I knew LSUA was the right place for me based on the family-friendly community and how awesome everyone is,” Avia said. “Being able to stay close to home and still help out on my family’s ranch was definitely a bonus too. It’s also so nice to be able to get that one-on-one attention from my professors. They really want me to succeed.”
She enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Biology program with a pre-veterinary concentration. Through this program Avia has had the opportunity to learn from and work on research projects with LSUA professor and Board President of the Friends of the Alexandria Zoo, Dr. Susan Bowers.
“Avia is such a rewarding student to have in the class. She is always wanting to experience more, learn more, and accomplish more. I am excited to see her excel in veterinary medicine and to see what the future holds for her,” Bowers said.
Bowers has most recently helped Avia with her research testing different types of rye grass for cattle.
“I love the research,” Avia said. “It has been so interesting seeing the how each type of grass affects the nutrients and weight gains of the cattle.”
As Laborde began her preparations to apply to vet school, she knew the first person she needed to reach out to was LSUA Chancellor Dr. Paul Coreil.
“I heard him speak one time and was in awe at how focused he is on seeing his students succeed. I decided to talk to him about my passion and try to get advice. Not only did we have a great conversation, but he offered to write a letter of recommendation for me. There aren’t many places where that type of one-on-one interaction occurs,” she said.
It became a mutual bond.
“Being that she (Avia) was so active in 4-H and her interest in being a large animal vet, it made her a very unique candidate,” Coreil said. “With such a shortage in large animal vets and with her excellent credentials, it really motivated me to help her achieve her dreams and contribute to animal agriculture in Central Louisiana.”
Those credentials include a 4.0 grade point average, something Avia knew she would need in order to be accepted to vet school.
Avia applied to the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine; however, she was not accepted the first time.
“I was so upset, but my family told me to stay focused and keep trying,” Avia said.
With that, Avia applied again and has since been accepted. She will move to Baton Rouge and begin the curriculum in August 2021. Upon completion of the four-year program, she hopes to return home to give back to the community that has given her so much.
“Our community needs me, there aren’t many rural vets, so it is a great way to come back to help local ranchers and farmers and give back to the community that invested so much in me.”
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