|Lori is another wonderful example of our alumni. Through her efforts in her job and in the professional organizations she participates in, the quality of our graduates is reflected. This further solidifies our position as the leader in veterinary technology education.”
Rich Flora, dean of the School of Veterinary Technology
St. Petersburg College alumna Lori VanValkenburg credits the faculty in SPC’s Veterinary Technology program with helping her succeed in the field of veterinary medicine and education and for providing guidance throughout her education and beyond.
VanValkenburg, 39, serves as Program Director for the Veterinary Technician and Veterinary Assistant programs at Pima Medical Institute in Houston. Since it’s a new program, she has been preparing the program to earn AVMA accreditation.
“The knowledge and skills that I learned while taking courses at SPC have prepared me well for my career field,” VanValkenburg said. “Every single course that I have taken in my degree program at SPC has made a positive impact on my career.”
Veterinary medicine and education is actually VanValkenburg’s second career. She worked in the medical industry for nearly 10 years as a surgical assistant, but realized it wasn’t humans she wanted to spend her life treating; her sights were set on taking care of man’s best friend and teaching others how to do so.
“I always loved animals and I had the opportunity while I was married to be able to go to school and really do what I wanted,” said the now single mother.
After earning her associate degree in veterinary technology from the Lone Star College System, VanValkenburg wanted a veterinary bachelor’s degree. But she had trouble finding a local program that could meet her demanding schedule as a busy working professional.
While searching for veterinary technology bachelor’s degrees online, she came across the St. Petersburg College website and was excited to discover the program was offered entirely online. VanValkenburg also found SPC’s faculty very caring and dedicated.
“They were just so personal and understanding, and they connected with students really well,” said VanValkenburg.
While in school, VanValkenburg faced personal family challenges that made it difficult to keep up with her studies and appreciated the support she received from some of her vet tech faculty, even when she took a break from classes. She eventually graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology from SPC in Summer 2011.
She has remained in touch with her instructors since then.
“I feel like they are proud of who I have become and that I can contact them any time for further guidance. I guess you could say they are my cheering section.”
Cynthia Grey, professor of Veterinary Technology, describes VanValkenburg as a creative, goal-oriented individual.
“As a learner, it was not enough for her just to complete something,” Grey said of her former student. “Lori went beyond looking at her degree path as a series of assignments to check off when completed. She capitalized on having an enriching learning experience.
“I think what further contributes to Lori’s success both academically and professionally is her passion for veterinary medicine … She is enthusiastic and proud of herself and her profession, and this is reflected in her successes.”
Rich Flora, dean of the School of Veterinary Technology, said VanValkenburg always looked beyond the surface and wanted to understand the deeper principles.
“Having a student like Lori, who loves our profession and has dedicated herself to it, assures me the future is in very good hands,” Flora said.
VanValkenburg has always been active in her field. Since February 2010, she has taught full-time veterinary technology classes and written exam questions for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) national boards. She currently serves as Director-at-Large for the Association of Veterinary Technician Educators and recently served as president of the Texas Association of Registered Veterinary Technicians (TARVT).
On Sept. 20, she expects to graduate from the University of Phoenix with a master’s degree in adult education and training. She is considering working on a doctorate degree once her 5-year-old son, Nathan, gets older.
“I’m a single mom and he’s just known me as doing my homework all the time,” said VanValkenburg. “I’m sure that him seeing me as a student like this will be a positive motivation for him in the future.”