Claire Ludwig ’21 and Amy Ward ’21 came to NC State in fall 2017 and enrolled in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Within three years, they both earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science and enrolled in NC State’s top-ranked College of Veterinary Medicine, applying a portion of their Park Scholarships funding toward their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine studies. The future veterinarians joined Park Scholarships for a conversation about their Park and NC State experience.
Claire Ludwig ’21
Hometown: Linn, Missouri
Degrees: B.S. Animal Science, completed December 2019; Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, expected completion 2024
Future Plans: Claire is aiming to have a big impact, either by specializing in an area of small animal medicine such as neurology, cardiology, or internal medicine, or through opening a mixed animal practice in a rural, underserved area.
Amy Ward ’21
Hometown: Williamston, North Carolina
Degrees: B.S. Animal Science, Concentration: Veterinary Bioscience, completed May 2020; Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, expected completion 2024
Future Plans: Amy is an Annable Scholar and aspires to practice small animal veterinary medicine in eastern North Carolina.
What brought you to NC State?
Amy: My main draw to NC State was that it has a great animal science program with hands-on opportunities. I knew it would give me the foundation I needed to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.
Claire: NC State not only has one of the top-ranked veterinary schools in the country, but also one of the best animal science programs. I knew NC State would prepare me for vet school and an impactful career in veterinary medicine.
How did you initially hear about the Park Scholarships program?
Claire: After I applied to NC State, I received an email from the school that said I would be a good candidate for the Park Scholarship and suggested I apply. I did some research on the program and quickly learned it would be the opportunity of a lifetime.
Amy: A student from my high school had received the scholarship, and that piqued my interest in the program.
What drew you to your intended profession?
Amy: Small animal medicine has sparked my curiosity and reaffirmed a long-standing passion for animals. I enjoy the versatility that small animal medicine provides, allowing me to perform examinations, diagnostics, and operations all in one place. The variety of cases that small animal veterinarians see each day will challenge me to grow.
Claire: I am so lucky to have grown up on a farm. I learned the value of hard work and also got to experience the joys of all kinds of animals. I showed cattle and swine, raised chickens and ducks, had litters of kittens, and even started my own dog breeding business at the age of ten. All of these experiences and the relationships I formed with these animals as a result of these experiences led me to become a veterinarian.
Today, I see not only how my animals impact me but also how my patients impact their owners and families. This visible love, along with my passion for agriculture, is what continues to drive me in my pursuit of a DVM. As a specialist, I will receive the patients that general small animal practitioners are unable to treat. I have always loved solving problems, and I am willing to try everything before giving up on even the most difficult cases. As a mixed animal veterinarian in an underserved area, I would provide a life source for not only the pet owners but also the farmers there. There has been a shortage of rural veterinarians for some time now, and farmers are the ones taking the hit and suffering the most from this shortage.
How has your Park experience prepared you to pursue this career?
Claire: The Park Scholarship allowed me to focus on my goal of getting into vet school without having to worry about the financial burden of tuition, and it provided me with essential skills I will use throughout my entire career. The Park program taught me how to communicate, be a leader, motivate others, make lasting connections, promote diversity, and use my privilege to help others. Not only was I able to volunteer at more animal shelters and shadow more veterinarians, but I also became a better person.
Amy: I could not imagine a greater experience to have prepared me for veterinary school than my involvement with the Park Scholarships program. Before being introduced to the program, I thought that I already knew how to be a professional that could effectively communicate. That was so far from the truth. I have since completed workshops on public speaking, leadership skills, diversity, and privilege. I am so grateful that the Park Scholarships community gave me exposure to students in different fields of study and different backgrounds. The access to this information and professional training is something that I would have never gotten otherwise. The program has shaped me into a professional, and that is immensely valuable.
During your time at NC State, how have your mentors helped you?
Amy: The relationship that I have established with my Park mentor, Dr. Amy Snyder, has given me guidance in my journey towards veterinary school. She led me to shadowing opportunities and provided me with much-needed support. Dr. Billy Flowers, our Park Faculty Scholar, always made time for me and the other animal science Park Scholars and gave me valuable advice. My time at NC State was also greatly shaped by Dr. Shweta Trivedi, whose honest advice led me to some unforgettable experiences and an exquisite application.
Claire: My Park Faculty Scholar, Dr. Billy Flowers, and my Park Faculty Mentor, Dr. Jeanette Moore, were both extremely influential in my journey at NC State. They supported me every step of the way and are still just a call away any time I need guidance. I am so glad the animal science students at NC State have access to these wonderful mentors and so thankful the Park program gave me the chance to work so closely with them.
What are some of the highlights of your experience as a student at NC State and as a Park Scholar?
Claire: I had so many great experiences as an undergraduate student at NC State. I studied abroad in South Africa where I worked with a wildlife and game veterinarian; joined Delta Gamma Sorority; worked as a biochemistry teaching assistant; volunteered with the Krispy Kreme Challenge, Service Raleigh, and the Wake County Animal Center; and was named a Food Animal Scholar for the class entering vet school in 2020. However, I have had even more highlights since starting veterinary school. I am currently serving as the president-elect of the Student American Veterinary Medical Association at NC State, the president-elect of the Internal Medicine Club, the Boehringer-Ingelheim Student Representative, and the Nestle Purina Student Representative. I am also working to get my veterinary acupuncture certification, and I work in the NC State large animal hospital.
Amy: My time at NC State has provided many highlights: being team captain for an intramural basketball team and scoring my first basket, helping the public milk cows at the state fair, watching a show at Ford’s theatre, and traveling to Chicago where I saw Lebron James, caught a shirt from a t-shirt cannon, and stayed in my first Airbnb.
What is your favorite part of the Park Scholarships program?
Amy: My favorite part of the Park Scholarships program is that before the first day of classes, every Park Scholar has 30 peers (and 1,000 alumni) that will act as a support system throughout undergrad and beyond. Some of my closest friendships and best connections have come from the Park Scholarships program. Being around such an amazing group of people made my NC State experience worthwhile.
Claire: I love so many things about the Park Scholarships program. This program has introduced me to many great mentors and opportunities, but it also introduced me to some of my best friends. I am so proud of each and every one of my Park classmates. It is often said that you are the combination of who you surround yourself with. I absolutely believe this is true, and the Park program gives you every opportunity to surround yourself with some of the best people imaginable.
As the Park Scholarships program celebrates 25 years, what do you hope to see from Park Scholars in the next 25 years?
Claire: I want Park Scholars to continue to make a difference. Whatever their chosen field, I hope they will enter it with conviction and determination. Choose to make a difference, and figure out how to do just that. I have often been told you move a mountain one stone at a time. Park Scholars can move mountains. It might be a mountain at home, in their community, in their state, or even in the whole world. The challenge is to pick their mountain and start moving it!
Amy: In the next 25 years, I would like to see more Park Scholars from rural communities. Small towns and their businesses could benefit from Park alumni that have the communication skills and expansive network that the program creates. Considering that Park Scholars will be the future’s entrepreneurs, doctors, and engineers, it would be amazing to see them venture out more into underserved areas.
What advice would you share with NC State students as they navigate their college years?
Amy: Always ask questions. Find people that are in the position you want to be in and ask them how they got there. Ask upperclassmen for advice. And most importantly, ask for help when you need it.
Claire: When you come to college and are surrounded by some of the brightest, most talented people and are taking some of the hardest classes, it is easy to doubt yourself and your abilities. I encourage each of you to remember the hard work you put into getting to where you are today. Do not settle for the easier path. Do not give up on your dreams, and do not make excuses. My dad always says to me “Keep your eyes on the prize.” This is exactly what I challenge each of you to do. Stay focused and put in the work necessary to reach your goals and make a true impact on the world. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” I agree.