Paola Cruz Ramos has come a long way from her home in Guayama, Puerto Rico, by following her personal motto.
“Always try,” she says. “If I fail, I fail. But at least I tried.”
Her persistence has made the member of the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine class of 2022 a budding veterinarian and an Annable Scholar.
The Michele M. and Ross M. Annable Scholarship Endowment is a result of a $5 million gift from the Annables in 2016 and has been matched by $5 million from the Randall B. Terry Charitable Foundation. The scholarship covers up to half of tuition and fees. Recipients are chosen on the basis of need, as well as a demonstrated commitment to community service.
“It doesn’t seem real,” Cruz Ramos says of the scholarship. “It was so worth it to apply. It’s been a great blessing. It is a great stress reliever.
“I think about Ross and Michele as a big part of every goal I achieve,” she says. “It’s amazing how people who don’t know you still believe in you. A million thank-yous to the Annables.”
Cruz Ramos has been determined to pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian even before she could see the way forward.
She majored in animal science as an undergraduate at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, one of 11 campuses in the island’s university system. She says at that point she had little familiarity with colleges of veterinary medicine and the options were available, but she knew that’s where she wanted to go.
It all became clear to her after she met Allen Cannedy, CVM director of diversity and multicultural affairs and a practicing veterinarian. Cannedy is a tireless mentor and student recruiter, and was in Puerto Rico in 2016 as part of his continuing effort to provide access to a veterinary education to those underrepresented in the profession.
“After I met Dr. Cannedy, it all clicked into place,” Cruz Ramos said. “NC State was my No. 1 choice.”
She knew that finances would be a challenge, but Cruz Ramos was prepared to do all she could to make her dream a reality. She even looked to her longtime hobby, painting, to earn money.
A talented artist, she was able to sell some of her work to increase her savings prior to enrolling. She continues to paint today, using graphic pencils and acrylics, both as a creative outlet and to take a break from the rigorous academic demands of her education. Her primary subjects are portraits of animals and people.
After I met Dr. Cannedy, it all clicked into place. NC State was my No. 1 choice.
And while she was a little apprehensive about how she would be accepted at the CVM, Cruz Ramos fit in right away.
“There were few other Hispanic students,” she says. “But my classmates and professors were very welcoming, and NC State has lived up to my every expectation and more.”
Cruz Ramos’ professional goals certainly align with the goals of the Annable Scholarship. In addition to her interest in working with a small animal clinic that emphasizes fear-free techniques, she has a strong interest in volunteer service.
She also plans to continue helping out stray animals and animal shelters by promoting adoption and volunteering at free spay/neuter clinics.
Cruz Ramos says she has mixed feelings about what to do after graduation. She would like to return to Puerto Rico, where her family is and where there is a need for more veterinarians. But she hopes to start her career on the mainland to gain more experience, and where there are more job opportunities.
Whatever she does, though, she will give it her all. That’s the advice she has for all the aspiring veterinary students who have not yet begun their journey.
“Don’t be afraid to try,” she says. “Think positive and believe in yourself. Hard work and a positive attitude can make it happen for you.”
~Steve Volstad/NC State Veterinary Medicine