HARLINGEN — Upon earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal science, Adrian Aaron Arellano, 31, gained years of experience working in pharmaceutical research.
And while conducting pharmaceutical research, Adrian was able to interact with veterinarians who specialized in laboratory animal science.
This part of his journey inspired him to continue his studies and enter a new chapter of his career at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Upon completing his first year of veterinary school, Adrian took an oath of office, along with more than 100 healthcare professionals, to become a medical officer in the U.S. Army during a live, virtual commissioning ceremony held on May 20.
“We did have some technical issues trying to log in with so many officers commissioning, but it was also really exciting to know that I was one of the first going through a virtual commissioning ceremony,” Adrian said. “After speaking to my recruiter, he kind of enlightened me that the Army has never really done a virtual commissioning so I was kind of privileged to be one of the first to be able to go through that.”
Adrian’s parents, Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Arellano and Raquel Romero Arellano, along with his wife Catherine, were present for the virtual ceremony.
“I was able to have my parents. It’s a big deal for me, but I feel like it’s also an accomplishment of theirs because I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for the guidance and every tool and opportunity they’ve given me,” Adrian said. “Luckily, I’ve had my wife there to really support me with everything. My daughter wasn’t able to be there, but it was really special to have my parents and wife there.”
Adrian said it was also exciting to be able to swear in with the Army lieutenant general during the virtual commissioning ceremony.
“That was another exciting aspect that not a lot of people get to experience,” he said. “So I’m very proud about that.”
Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Scott Dingle was the host of the nationwide virtual ceremony.
“The U.S. Army Medical Department is an excellent choice for anyone driven by the desire to care for others as they serve their country,” Dingle stated in a press release. “Caring for others as leaders in the healthcare field is our primary mission. Our job is to be ready to answer the call and to conserve the fighting strength.”
Adrian will enter the Army as a second lieutenant and will be promoted to captain when he graduates, as part of the Army Health Professions Scholarship Program.
“It’s a really good program that the Army offers for not only veterinarian students, but also for medical, dental and nursing students,” Adrian explained. “It’s something they do to promote healthcare professionals to enter the Army and make a difference in that way.”
Serving in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps not only allows Adrian to pursue a career in veterinary medicine, it also enables him to follow in the footsteps of his father, who is a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
“As far as the military aspect of it, I have always kind of had in the back of my mind, plans on one day making it into the military because I grew up in a military family. My father was a Marine so I grew up exposed to that lifestyle and it was always something that called to me,” Adrian said. “In addition to that, while I was working in pharmaceutical research, one of my mentors who was a veterinarian, was also a retired Army veterinarian so that just reemphasized my overall goal of being a veterinarian in the military.”
Adrian said it feels exciting and surreal to be entering this new chapter of his career.
“There’s moments where it kind of hits me that it’s really happening. Then there’s times where it doesn’t really feel like it’s actually here,” he said. “It’s kind of just surreal and it’s definitely taken a lot of hard work so it’s something I’m very proud of.”
For Adrian, the biggest piece of advice he could offer anyone who is pursuing a goal is to keep making steps toward it.
“I think my biggest takeaway from this and probably the biggest emphasis that I would like to give for my daughter would be to continuously pursue any dreams that you may have even if they take longer than expected,” he said. “I took the scenic route to get here. It wasn’t a short-term trip at all, but it was through persistence, not giving up and continuing to take steps toward a certain goal.”
ADRIAN AARON ARELLANO
AGE — 31
HOMETOWN — Harlingen
HIGH SCHOOL — Harlingen South
EDUCATION — Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal science from Texas A&M University-Kingsville
SERVICE BRANCH — U.S. Army
RANK — Second lieutenant