For animal science major James Tyndall, veterinary medicine is much more than spaying and neutering dogs and cats. It can also be an avenue to improving the food supply, he says, and improving the welfare of all types of animals – and of people.
Serving as this year’s national president of the American Pre-Veterinary Medical Association, the CALS senior is using his passion for vet med to raise the public’s awareness of good animal care and the benefits of research and its impact on society.
APVMA has more than 50 registered clubs throughout the United States. Tyndall was elected president at the association’s 2010 national symposium, hosted by Purdue University in Indiana. More than 480 students and advisers attended, taking part in labs and lectures on veterinary topics ranging from suture techniques to wolf and bird medicine to cattle breeding. The 2011 symposium, over which Tyndall will preside, is March 11 to 13 at Mississippi State University.
During his presidency, Tyndall also hopes to raise undergraduate students’ awareness of the career possibilities available through veterinary medicine and to help them learn from each other as they pursue their goal of getting into vet school.
“My mind just explodes with everything you can do,” Tyndall says. “There are so many different pathways you can do … once you get to vet school – pathology, toxicology. You can work in a clinic, start your own clinic – there are just thousands of different directions that you can go.”
Getting to be a veterinarian, though, isn’t easy, Tyndall acknowledges. “But like anything good in life,” he says, “it’s worth working hard for.”
And hard work is something Tyndall knows well. As a young husband and father, he works a 30-hour-a-week job with a local toxicologist while striving to maintain the high grades that veterinary colleges require of prospective students.
Along the way, he’s also found time to serve others: In addition to his role on APVMA’s executive board, he’s served as vice president of the N.C. State chapter of Sigma Nu fraternity, taught autistic children to ride and compete in equestrian events at the Special Olympics and volunteered for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Tyndall says he enjoys challenges and helping improve the lives of others. Through veterinary medicine, he believes he’ll be able to do both.
“I don’t necessarily want to be nationally recognized on the cover of Forbes magazine,” he says. “But I do want to help find the cure for cancer – find a medical device that helps wounded veterans better cope with their lives and improve their lives. You can do that through veterinary medicine.”
In addition to setting his career sights on helping improve others’ lives, he also strives to motivate other N.C. State students to pursue their dreams, despite the challenges they face. In part, he says, it’s payback for the enthusiasm and support that his CALS animal science professors have shown for him.
“If something comes your way — be it a hard test or be it just a bad day with your boyfriend or girlfriend— you can work through that. There are ways around it,” he says. “People in CALS and the professors, particularly in animal science, are there to support you not only as an undergraduate student but as a person.
“You can be an undergraduate student, and be a good father, and succeed professionally, and do all kinds of things – if you work hard,” he says. “If you work hard, at the end of the day, everything will pay off.”
— Dee Shore