Alumni Spotlight: Kayla Lawlor, DVM
This spotlight was published in the spring 2022 issue of New England College Magazine.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina
It’s kind of a cliché to say that I have always wanted to work with animals, but it’s true. After my first or second year at NEC, I realized that with my grades, I could actually do it.
I graduated with my biology degree and started applying to vet schools. I applied to 16 schools because each one has so many applicants that it is hard to get in. Being accepted is some portion luck, some portion good grades, and some portion being a well-rounded applicant. NEC prepared me for that process a lot more than I realized at first. I was able to do a lot of things at NEC and be successful, from managing academics and basketball to participating in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program. I had really good teachers and support, particularly in the Science department. I think big universities are great, but students can get lost in that environment. I did not get lost at NEC.
After all those vet school applications, I was accepted into the veterinary medicine program at the University of Florida. I was excited because I’m originally from Cocoa Beach, Florida. I worked at a clinic after vet school, but practice ownership was always my goal. After a year at my previous clinic, I knew I was ready for the next step of opening my own practice.
I opened Big Bear Veterinary Clinic in Hayesville, North Carolina, in 2020. I can practice medicine and operate my practice the way I want. We are a mixed-animal practice, so we go out to rural area two days a week to treat large animals and stay in clinic three days a week to treat domestic animals. We also do all the emergency care for our patients, rather than sending them to an emergency clinic.
Being a vet is hard work, and I face a lot of challenges, especially financial. I graduated vet school with $260,000 in loans. Now with my own practice, I have about $1 million in debt. It’s daunting, but I love what I do.
There are always those cases that make you happy to work in veterinary medicine. Recently, a little cat came in with a temperature that was down in the 80s. His temperature was so low it would not even register on the thermometer. He was covered in urine, and his owners had no idea what had happened. I thought for sure he was not going to make it. Three days later, though, he was back to normal and is doing great. Animals are amazing with what they can get through and live with.
I have always loved animals and love giving them a voice. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, but I love being able to help them when they cannot help themselves. It isn’t pretty to talk about—humane euthanasia—but helping the animal and the owner through that is so important. We don’t want animals to be in pain and suffer. At the end of the day, the animal and the person attached to it are the most important things. I’m most passionate about that care.
My practice is expanding, and I’m engaged and expecting my first child. Life is busy but it’s good.
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