Future veterinarian: Harlingen graduate already working in animal clinic

Emily Marquez

HARLINGEN — She got the job.

Emily Marquez may not have starred in that commercial awhile back, but she’s definitely the star of her own show. The 2020 Harlingen High School graduate just went to work for the Texas A&M University Small Animal Clinic. She’s the only college freshman currently working there.

“I just started last week,” said Emily, 18, who just began her studies in animal science at the university in College Station.

“I’m working as a student assistant in the primary care,” she said. “I’m the first person that patients will see when they come in. I work between actual patients’ owners and then handling the patient and then taking them to their units that they have to go to, whether it’s oncology, neurology, orthopedics …”

The patients, in this case, fur babies — i.e. dogs, cats, etc.

Emily spent the past couple of years getting a head start on her veterinary studies at Harlingen High School. She was in the Harlingen school district’s first cohort of veterinary assistant students who began working toward their certifications in their junior year.

When the pandemic struck in March, many of them wondered if they’d be able to finish their training and take their exams. Fortunately, the district had designed the program so that students completed their 300 practicum hours long before COVID-19 even had a name.

“It’s such an honor to still be able to receive it,” said Emily right after she passed her exam early this summer.

“It’s been a lot of hard work in the past two years that we’ve been working toward this goal,” she said. “It’s been a really great experience, especially in the middle of what’s happening right now.”

And two months later she’s already begun her studies in the pre-veterinary track at Texas A&M while working in her chosen profession.

“It’s quite exciting,” she said. “I’m actually the only freshman in my department that’s working there. Everybody else is upperclassmen, so I feel really lucky to have the opportunity.”

But it’s not all about work and science for Emily. She and her younger brother J.C. like to paint together, nothing heavy, just fun.

“We just like to paint little funny canvases, little memes I guess you could say, just little cartoons,” she said. “He’s actually the artistic one in the family. I’m not.”

She also likes to do embroidery on the side.

Back at school, most of her classes are online. However, she takes her animal science lab and chemistry lab classes face-to-face.

“It’s been interesting, new experiences, new courses, new level of difficulty from high school to college,” she said.

And she’s in it for the long haul. Once she finishes her four-year degree she hopes to apply for Texas A&M’s veterinary school.

twhitehead@valleystar.com