30 May 2019 | Animal health
British Veterinary LGBT: Hattie's story
To celebrate LGBT History Month, final-year vet student Hattie Smart advises that the pathway to achievement is not straight and smooth.
Can you tell us what started/inspired your path into the veterinary profession?
I always loved animals from a small age, but it's all down to one vet really. I sadly witnessed a friend’s horse being hit by a car when I was 13. He completely shattered most of his left foreleg. Alistair Field (now at Field Equine Vets in the midlands) was completely fantastic and although Erik couldn't be saved, he treated him with kindness and compassion and so much dignity. I was completely inspired.
What has been the most challenging part of your career?
I'm in my final year at vet school now but there have been various challenges along the way. In my final year of A levels, I had an accident which left me with a skull fracture and brain injury. After a lot of time off, lecturers told me I should decide on a new career. Instead I joined the gateway programme here at RVC and loved it!
What has been the best part of your career so far?
I've had incredible opportunities with some really wonderful people. During my intercalation, I completed a research project looking at early pregnancy loss in horses with Mandi De Mestre. She has been the most supportive individual possible, and thanks to her amazingness I got to present our labs work at the International Symposium for Equine Reproduction 2018 and met some of my idols!
What are your proudest achievements of your career?
I think being elected the Student Welfare officer for the students' union two years on the go was a big one for me. We were able to implement so many positive things for our students, along with help from the college. Overall, RVC is a really diverse, accommodating and supportive place to study as a student. Last year we won the Betts Prize for "exceptional commitment and outstanding contribution to the RVC far beyond the normal call of duty"- it felt incredible!
What advice would you offer to someone experiencing difficulty with their sexuality or gender identity?
Talk to someone, you're definitely not the only person that feels like this/ has experienced this. There is a wealth of support out there. Get in touch with the BVLGBT+, Mermaids or other organisations (such as university LGBT+ societies!). Talking about it makes it so much easier.
If there is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self what would that be and why?
The pathway to achievement is not straight and smooth; there will be mountains to climb and big pits to fall into. Never give up on your dreams and use those who say you won't achieve them as the biggest motivation!
We have launched our first ever questionnaire to gather experiences of discrimination in the veterinary professions, and are seeking anonymous feedback from vets, vet nurses, students and other veterinary professionals regarding incidents where they have witnessed discrimination or felt discriminated against. The questionnaire is open from 2 February until 2 March and should take around 10 minutes to complete.
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