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Molly Potter and Katie Stricker

Student holding dog

For two animal and nutritional sciences alumni, being part of the Davis-Michael Scholars Program not only provided financial support for their college educations, it helped them develop relationships and discover strengths that will benefit them as they move onto veterinary school.

Molly Potter, a Martinsburg, West Virginia, native, has wanted to be a veterinarian since she was five-years-old.

As a young girl, Potter was inspired by a golden retriever named Shadow from the movie Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, her dachshund named Sammy, and the medical dictionary she received as a Christmas present when she was seven or eight years old. Potter’s interest in veterinary medicine matured over the years and was the primary reason she came to WVU and the Davis College.

As an added bonus, she was able to join the Davis-Michael Scholars Program during her freshman year which, she believed would give her the opportunity to meet other students aspiring to go to veterinary school or who were part of another pre-professional program. What she didn’t expect to happen, however, was to meet someone who would become one of her closest friends.

During the summer of her junior year, Potter participated in an internship at The Wilds, a private, non-profit safari park and conservation center in Cumberland, Ohio. Upon arrival she learned there was another student intern from WVU.

“I knew I had to meet her,” Potter said. “We’ve been really good friends ever since.”

That other Mountaineer was Katie Stricker of Charleston, West Virginia.

The friends now study together and participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, including the WVU Pre Vet Club where Potter is the president and Stricker is vice president.

For Stricker, studying animal and nutritional sciences with the hope of one day becoming a veterinarian was, perhaps, the furthest thing from her mind when she started college. Initially believing she wanted to be a chemical engineer, she spent a year working in the field.

“I worked at a chemical plant for a year and I quickly learned that I didn’t want to be a chemical engineer,” she said.

After returning to college, Stricker switched majors multiple times and finally decided to try something completely different.

“I just thought, 'If I could be anything, what would I want to be,'” she said. “I was always a little bit afraid to try an animal related major, but I decided to go for it.”

She reached out to Robert Dailey, professor of animal and nutritional sciences, who helped her secure the internship at The Wilds. It was during that internship Stricker realized she had finally found the perfect major – and that she wanted to become a zoo veterinarian.

Both students are in the process of applying to veterinary schools and hope to enroll in the fall of 2016.