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My name is Caty Henriksen, and I am currently a senior at Waukee High School. This semester, I am enrolled in the Animal and Veterinary Science APEX course. During my freshman year, I heard about the Waukee APEX program, and  I was able to tour the Waukee Innovation and Learning Center (WILC). During my tour, an associate talked about the Animal and Vet Science course, and I instantly knew it was for me. I did not think I would be able to see anything in the veterinary field until I got to college, so the idea of being able to learn and actually experience my dream career made me excited for all the future opportunities.

I have known that I have wanted to go into Veterinary Medicine since I was a toddler. My grandma boards dogs in Minnesota. I grew up sharing her passion for animals. She has always inspired me to advocate for animals. She has worked with the Humane Society and has even helped shut down puppy mills. Whenever I was scared of anything such as blood or needles, she told me I needed to work through it if I ever wanted to be a veterinarian. Without her help and guidance, I would probably be less prepared for the veterinary field than I am now.

Being an associate at APEX has given me so many opportunities that I would not have gotten anywhere else. The project-based curriculum has given me insight into collaboration and real-life professional skills. I have worked on a couple of projects with the Blank Park Zoo. My team’s first project was to help recruit more high school volunteers for their Night Eyes event. We placed posters around the school and WILC and also spread the word to Silvercord and NHS. My other project with the Blank Park Zoo is exploring the anatomy and diet of the ruminants versus the non-ruminants. My team and I have worked with the commissary at the zoo to research what new foods we could incorporate into the ruminant diets.

The most unique opportunity I have been given through APEX is access to multiple contacts in the veterinary field. Having these contacts allows me to job shadow different careers that I am interested in. I have been able to sit in on multiple surgeries at the Animal Rescue League, and job shadow a veterinarian at a wellness clinic. In the future, I am looking to shadow a vet at the zoo and possibly shadow an overnight shift at the emergency vet clinic. Being able to shadow multiple different careers has helped me determine what I want to study in college and pursue in the future.

Being a part of APEX has given me so many opportunities and skills that set me apart from other high school students around the country. This program has helped solidify my passion for animals and medicine. I truly believe that I am more prepared and excited for the future than before I started APEX!