I was interested in applying for the ROTC scholarship that would help me pay for my expensive tuition. I knew it was super competitive and that I also needed to get recommendation letters from military leaders as well as have some military experience. I joined the ROTC as soon as I found out that I was accepted into vet school and applied for the scholarship (HPSP). the summer before I started my first year. In the end, I ended up taking out loans for my first, but for the next three years my tuition is pretty much covered.
2. What are some challenges of your HPSP scholarship obligations?
It's a lot of commitment. You have to complete one year of internships after school and then work at least three years of active duty on an assigned base. Also, I do not get a big choice of where I will be living at. Say that I wanted to go to Los Angeles, there might not be a base that [fits my profession]. I [have the opportunity] to make trips if I wanted to work with animals in other places (countries, cities, etcs).
3. How competitive is getting the HPSP scholarship?
It is actually highly competitive. Since they pay for a full three years (or 2 years, depending upon the program) of your tuition including a monthly stipend, a lot of people apply. Unfortunately there is not a huge demand for veterinarians compared to the need for dentists and doctors. When I applied, twenty-four spots were open and over nine hundred people applied. Overall, the more military experience you have, the better the chance you have of receiving the scholarship.
4. What are some of the perks of working in the army?
You get a chance to travel to different places. For example, India, Germany, Japan, pretty much anywhere. Of course getting your tuition paid for and the monthly stipends are a [big plus]. [But in addition to that], army vets also get the opportunity to provide goodwill amongst other groups of people. We get a chance to bring knowledge to underserved people.
5. Can you only work as a veterinarian for the army branch or also for the other branches too?
Only the army allows you to work with animals. I wanted to work as a clinician [so I chose the army]. The air force is allows you to work in public health, but [you're only working] with the human sector.
6. How was the training process?
It's actually not that intense, but you should have a certain level of athleticism. In the ROTC we had physical training every morning at 6:45am and did basic cardio (running) and strength training. The ROTC helped prepare us for the military. They also set reasonable goals. For instance, females were required to run 2 miles under 18 minutes and perform as many pushups and sit-ups as we can.
7. Was it hard transitioning into the army?
It was tough at first, but I was excited to start learning about everything. You do not have to change yourself, but you do have to start disciplining yourself and conducting yourself in a military manner. It's a bit of a transition, but it's really not that big of a deal.
8. Any tips on applying for the scholarship?
As soon as you decide where you're going for vet school and have been accepted, start applying right away. This scholarship makes you sign 40 papers plus another 50 more. Also, I would say start contacting people right away (for your letters of rec). Your application has to be turned in by December of your first year [of veterinary school]. For those of you who are taking a gap year, I suggest using that time to get military experience. Look for local army vets near your hometown and see if you can intern under them. Get yourself familiar with the scholarship if you decide to do it.
SIDENOTE: If you would like to learn more on how you can start conditioning and training for the military, UC Davis offers a PE class called Military Conditioning (PHE 001 216). It's never too late to start and you also get a free .5 units for getting fit and healthy!
PSSD Historian 2016-2017