It’s been three years since a Personal Rapid Transit car was hit by a boulder in a rockslide, tragically injuring three students. One of those students is now a successful graduating senior from the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.
From Westchester, Ohio, Chloe Bolin decided to come to West Virginia University for the animal and nutritional sciences program.
“When I was around 13 years old, my family started fostering dogs for a pit bull rescue organization,” Bolin said. “I got to see how much veterinarians were able to help those dogs and give them a second chance. They even offered discounted care to rescues. I don’t think there are enough people that stand up for animals and are the voice for them. I want to make a difference in that area.”
That confirmed for her that pursuing a career focused on animals was truly what she wanted, but she didn’t know where the best place would be for her to attain that future.
"WVU wasn’t even on my radar until I went to a college fair and learned about the in-state tuition offered for my major,” Bolin said.
Initially, she disliked how widespread the campus seemed to be, but the size of the campus was ironically overshadowed by the support she realized she would have.
“I learned that they really help prepare you for veterinary school,” she said. “The percentage of Davis College students that get into veterinary school is very high compared to other schools—so I decided to apply.”
WVU has a 73.3% acceptance rate for students who apply to veterinary schools.
After choosing to attend WVU, she got involved with clubs and organizations on campus. In fact, the WVU Pre-Veterinary Club was how Bolin discovered a few of the veterinary schools she applied to.
Bolin also decided to enroll in the equine program, though she had only been around horses for the occasional ride on a vacation or trip. Even as a true beginner in the program, she was dedicated to learning and practicing at the J.W. Ruby Research, Education and Outreach Center until her education was interrupted on Feb. 10, 2020, by the PRT crash and soon by a global pandemic.
“On February 10th of 2020, I was in my freshman year. I had just started to make friends and find my
place at WVU when the accident happened—a boulder crashed into the PRT car I was riding in,” Bolin recalled. “I suffered three fractures to my pelvis and had to undergo emergency surgery."
After a five-day hospital stay, Bolin was in an inpatient rehab center for almost two weeks. Because she couldn't put any weight on her left leg, she had to rebuild the muscles with therapy.
She was allowed to return to school activity in August, but even then, Bolin said she still had to ease into everything. She credits her mom, who became her full-time nurse and aid, for helping her get through recovery—both physically and emotionally.
"She helped push me and got me through the tough days when I didn’t feel like doing therapy, and I just wanted to stay in bed,” Bolin said. “She was definitely my biggest cheerleader through it all.”
Bolin said her hope to return to her normal activities once she recovered and being thankful that she was still alive is what got her through.
“I believed I’d get back to walking and doing everyday activities, but I really did not think I'd be able to return to horseback riding with zero pain,” Bolin said. “At the time, I needed help with basically everything. I didn’t think I’d get back to that super intense activity without any discomfort.”
Despite her doubts, Bolin overcame that obstacle. Now, she can ride with no pain at all—even with a screw in her lower back.
Her mom wasn’t her only cheerleader during that time. Bob Dailey, professor of reproductive physiology and Bolin’s adviser, and Margaret Minch, teaching professor of veterinary medicine, were hoping for her recovery and ushering her toward the future she came here for.
“Dr. Dailey and Dr. Minch were both so helpful throughout my recovery. Dr. Dailey actually visited me three times when I was at rehab. He went out of his way to make sure I was doing alright in my online classes and checking in on me. They both worked with me to make sure I was able to keep my scholarships.”
Since the accident and all that she endured through her recovery, Bolin is intentional about being very grateful for all the things she can do—like getting out of bed and taking a walk outside. Crystal Smith, leader of the equine studies program, invited Bolin to work at the J.W. Ruby Research, Education and Outreach Center the fall semester after the accident.
“She allowed me to shadow for a semester to get the experience I needed to work there—now, I love those horses!” Bolin said.
Since fully recovering, Bolin has been able to do all that she hoped.
“Once I fully recovered, I was able to become a member of the western equestrian team. Most people are surprised to hear that after a pelvic injury I was able to ride horses again,” she said. “That’s what I'm most grateful for—just being able to get back on a horse because that’s my happy place.”
Aside from learning how to ride, Bolin said she learned the importance of forming close relationships with advisers and professors, like Dailey, Minch and Smith. These are the people she could turn to when school—and life—got hard.
Excitingly, schooling is about to get a little more difficult for her.
“I definitely made the right choice to come to WVU,” Bolin said. “I was accepted to Saint George’s University and to Virginia-Maryland College at Virginia Tech. I accepted the spot at Virginia-Maryland College!”
Her career plans are to become a mixed animal veterinarian and own a private practice—but her dream is to one day have an animal hospital.
The Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design envisions a world sustainably fed, clothed and sheltered. To learn more about the Davis College, visit davis.wvu.edu. Keep up with the latest updates and news on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by following @WVUDavis.
CONTACT: Leah Smith
Public Relations Specialist
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
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