Class of 2019 Story: Strength in Numbers

Name: Nikesh Patel

Hometown: New Brunswick, N.J.

Focus: Small animal surgery

Post-graduation plans: Small animal rotating internship in medicine and surgery, Ohio State University

I was 12 when my seventh grade art teacher told me how challenging it was to become a doctor of veterinary medicine.

For a while, I allowed fear of that challenge to lower any confidence I had in achieving a lifelong dream. However, with support from my close family and best friends, I found myself accepted into the DVM program at NC State University.

I started a new journey, in a new place, with so many new people. At first I thought to myself, “I’m not smart. I’m not good enough. I don’t belong here. I don’t belong with them.”

Up until that point in my life, all of my successes and achievements were my own; they were a product of my own hard work. So it came as no surprise that when I was put in a lecture hall filled with 99 other sharp, determined and willful other students at one of the best veterinary medical programs in the country (and in the world), I couldn’t have felt more out of place.

Little did I know that over the next four years, I would form some of the best relationships with some of the most incredible people I could ever hope to meet.

From anatomy lab to junior surgery to comparative medicine courses to the clinic floor, we have been faced with endless exams, long work hours and stress levels like you could never imagine. The Class of 2019 didn’t let the pressure get the best of us. We helped to build one another up and along the way I forged best friendships with four of my closest peers.

During times of academic and personal challenges we leaned on one another for support, and now I look forward to seeing where our lifelong bond takes us.

In our fourth and final year, I worked with faculty, residents, interns and technical staff — all helped me continue to develop as a budding clinician. Within the last few years I developed a strong interest in small animal surgery and not once was I discouraged from pursuing that as a specialty in the future.

As the school year comes to a close, I already find myself missing those very people who have made such an impact on my education. As I head to another veterinary teaching institution, I’m honored to take with me the knowledge that has been shaped by some of the most brilliant minds.

In our profession, the job is more than what we do — it’s a part of who we are. I couldn’t be more proud to have formed that part of myself here at NC State.

And one thing is certain: I could not have done it without my Pack.