As a first-year DVM student at the University of Sydney, I was lucky enough to be selected to attend VLE 2016. I had no idea what to expect from this week-long camp, which helps people “learn the skills necessary to be healthy and resilient so they can become people of positive influence”, but I do know that it was life changing, in the ‘how do I even put that into words’ kind of way. There are some things in life that we don’t know how much we need them until we find them – that’s exactly how I felt about VLE 2016.
I’ve always been told that I am an extrovert. Because talking to any number of people comes with relative ease to me, I decided my friends and family were right and so adopted that label as I began to decide who I was. Until attending VLE in June of 2016, I had never doubted that “extrovert” described me in a word. However, a unique opportunity arises when you are put into a situation that pushes you to become very honest with yourself and a group of people you’ve never met before. I suppose it’s a blessing for some and a curse for others; you can be who you really are or invent a completely different person because these people come together not knowing what type of person you are.
By the time puberty hits, everyone knows which kids at school are “outgoing,” “bossy,” and/or “confident.” These are assumed to be the extroverts. I was one of those. The introverts were the “shy” and “quiet” ones. The thing is, regardless of how much time I could spend talking and how many friendships I believed I had, I didn’t realize that this constant buzz of activity was really draining me. I didn’t realize it until some glorious human being at VLE described introverts and extroverts in terms of how they re-energize. All of a sudden, things came together. I knew that I still enjoyed sharing time with people and hearing their stories, but at the end of the day, I wanted to be alone. Whereas throughout college I would feel obligated to go out with my friends for fear of being the “hermit,” at VLE I felt immediately free to decide who I wanted to be. The comfort of being around people who truly care about you but at first don’t know who you are at all was an invitation to reassess myself. The first night there, I went to my cabin and did a puzzle with a roommate. The me in college would have gone to Capone’s to meet everyone else.
Why do I feel guilty about wanting to stay in? Do others feel the same pressure to always be “on”? Is it because I decided to adopt who the people I trust and love think I am without considering whether it truly reflected how I prefer to function? I tell myself it’s indulgent to watch the TV show I like while my good friends are getting together for wine. Sometimes I find myself making excuses relating to work or family obligations when social plans come up because telling someone “I need some time for myself” feels selfish. I think many of us feel the same guilt as professionals or students when we need “me” time but know that others are looking to us as the group motivators, leaders, and organizers. It’s not something that’s easily navigated, but a little self-assessment every day will help me embrace the introvert I really am. With anything, though, balance is key.
Lollipop moments are but small and few. If you don’t know what I’m talking about I suggest you YouTube “Drew Dudley: Leading with Lollipops” (I’ll even include the link in this Blog because I think everyone should watch it at least once). According to Dudley, a lollipop moment is “a moment where someone said something or did something that, you feel, fundamentally made your life better.” My lollipop moment? It came at just the right time.
My name is Chelsea and I am currently a Term 4 (Second Year) DVM student at St. George’s University (SGU), on the island of Grenada. I’m sure you’re all thinking “Holy moly, this girl goes to veterinary school on a Caribbean island? That’s got to be the life!” Sure I live on a tropical island, but I’m still a veterinary student with the exact same course load of any other DVM student studying in the states. I didn’t get out much my first year of school, you could say I was a hermit of sorts. You’d find me pretty much locked in my room spending countless hours going over the physiology behind the cardiovascular system or trying to figure out how the hell you pronounce cricoarytenoideus dorsalis. I often wondered what SGU even saw in me, I was entirely convinced I got in by some mistake. That being said, I suffered constantly from imposter syndrome and was depressed. Everyday I put a smile on my face, pretending that life was good and I was more or less sane. On the inside? I was being torn apart. It was a constant battle of balancing being a DVM student, being thousands of miles away from my family, getting enough sleep, and everything else in between. At the end of the first year, I was seriously considering dropping out of school. Though I was constantly battling my mind, SGU gave me the opportunity to attend the Veterinary Leadership Experience in Post Falls, Idaho. I took them up on the offer, but I felt like I was taking the experience away from someone that would make it in this rigorous DVM program.
I arrived in Post Falls, greeted with applause and smiles. Getting ready to move into small group activities, I spoke with one of my facilitators and referred to her as “Dr.” She stopped right there and said “Oh no, not here. Here I’m Jen.” My other facilitator, Chuck, is a professor at a university and from day one was throwing out hugs left and right. “Okay” I thought, “not exactly what I was expecting.” From this moment on, I was challenged in ways I didn’t think I would be. In the course of a week, I conquered my fear of heights, made lifelong connections with my small group, and learned that never, under any circumstance, should you cut a donut. For the first time in my veterinary career I not only felt my 100% genuine self, but I finally felt like I belonged within this profession. Leaving VLE, I knew I deserved those three letters at the end of my name and a diploma on my wall.
My facilitators and my small group members changed my life. So, I suppose I have two lollipops to “give”. One to SGU, for blessing me with this opportunity and one to VLE, for helping me find myself again and reminding me that I was destined for greatness within this profession.
Drew Dudley – Leading with Lollipops: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVCBrkrFrBE
The stars at night are big and bright……..deep in the heart of Texas!
Everything’s bigger and better in Texas…so they say!
So, join a Texas-sized bunch of fun at the 2016 AVMA VLE Alumni Reunion!
Put on your boots and mosey on down to enjoy some good eats and conversation with your fellow VLE alumni! Let us know what you’ve been up to and where your boots are taking you next!
When: Monday, August 8 from 6-9 pm
301 S. Alamo
San Antonio, TX 78205
There will be a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres.
Hello VLE Participants!
We hope you are all getting excited for the 2016 Veterinary Leadership Experience (#VLE2016)! We’ve been creating some buzz about the upcoming event, posting little samples of what you may expect. We’ve had fun sharing these teasers with you, and we hope you’ve enjoyed them. Now we’d like to share some thoughts on WHAT TO BRING, and hope this will help you prepare for your trip.
One of the foundational premises of the activity night called Fun on the Field is “It is OK to play”. In fact, it is downright healthy. And here is a little data for all you scientists to support my assertion.
- Expressing more confidence (Ginsburg, 2007; Gray, 2011)
- Developing conflict-resolution skills (Gray, 2011)
- Cultivating social skills such as flexibility, empathy, and the ability to be aware of one’s self (Burdette &Whitaker, 2005; Ginsburg, 2007; Gray, 2011)
- Increasing problem-solving capabilities (Kleiber & Barnett-Morris, 1993; Burdette & Whitaker, 2005; Ginsburg, 2007; Gray, 2011)
- Deepening critical-thinking skills (Hurwitz, 2002)
- Increasing curiosity (Burdette & Whitaker, 2005; Ginsburg, 2007)
Have you thought about the things you are going to do during VLE2016? If you’re an alum, have you thought about some of the fun things you did while at Ross Point? Here’s a video with Dr. Jen Quammen to introduce you to the cruise event at the Veterinary Leadership Experience.
Tell us what you think in the comments below. Share this with friends and remember to use #VLE2016 or #VLEalum
The 2016 Veterinary Leadership Experience is just over a month away … we want to give this year’s participants a taste of “what to expect” as well as a reminder to our alumni about some of the fantastic things you will see and do at Ross Point.
In the coming weeks you will see posts about some of the fun, and educational, events that you can participate in during VLE. Our intention is to make these posts short, entertaining and informative. If you are an alumnus, let us know if these posts sparked any nostalgia for you. If you are new to the VLE scene, let us know if you have specific topics/questions you’d like to hear more about. How can we serve you and make your experience more complete?
If you are posting about VLE on social media, please use #VLE2016 for this year’s event and #VLEalum for any previous events. You can learn more the Veterinary Leadership Institute here as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
What questions do you have about VLE? What memories would you like to share?