SWU prepares Sparks transition for veterinary program
From a young age, Jessica Sparks has had a strong passion for animals. During middle school and high school, she was also becoming passionate about studying biological sciences.
When Sparks became a student at Southern Wesleyan University, she set her sights on a profession in the medical field.
“After realizing I could combine all of my passions into one, I decided to look further into veterinary medicine,” said Sparks. “I began working at a small animal clinic and received outstanding hands-on experience. I was also able to see the real-world side of vet med.”
Sparks sensed God had called her to Southern Wesleyan, but she was now also sensing that same strong calling into veterinary medicine.
“One course at SWU that also strongly impacted my decision to become a veterinarian was Animal Science. This class opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that are available within the vet med field. I gained an interest in large animal medicine and began working at a dairy goat farm shortly after,” said Sparks, who was accepted into Mississippi State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She is most interested in mixed animal practice (small and large) and is considering a specialty in surgery. As more students are becoming interested in veterinary medicine, Southern Wesleyan continues to offer animal science as part of its curriculum.
Sparks also felt that Southern Wesleyan was preparing her personally, spiritually and physically through extracurricular activities. She took part in a global engagement trip to Puerto Rico helping hurricane victims and being a member of Southern Wesleyan’s Alpha Chi honor society and a charter member of the university’s new Beta Beta Beta honor society chapter. She also excelled in sports.
In fact, it was at a summer basketball camp conducted by then-Warriors head men’s basketball coach Charles Wimphrie where Sparks learned about Southern Wesleyan. She was recruited to play for the Women’s Basketball Team, receiving a scholarship and getting to play the sport she loved.
“Coach (John) Davis and Coach (Derek) Forrester did a great job of pushing us physically, mentally, and spiritually. Through their leadership and guidance, I learned about what is most important in life. Our team motto was ‘Team above self, Christ above all.’ Through this, I learned how to put others first as well as follow God's direction, even in the most difficult circumstances,” Sparks said.
“SWU helped transform me in every way possible,” Sparks continued. “By being involved in many different clubs and extracurriculars, I learned how to genuinely manage my time well and find a balance between academic studies, playing basketball, working, and having time to spend with friends and family.”
Sparks feels that time management skills learned at Southern Wesleyan paid off significantly in her first few weeks of veterinary school and she also feels that her professors prepared her well for the rigorous academic studies that lay ahead.
“Each of my professors did an amazing job stretching me so that I could reach my fullest potential and never settle. In order for them to do that, they first had to get to know me on a personal level. The best part about SWU was the student-professor relationships that were built over the four years. Each professor took the time to get to know me as a person and not just a number on the attendance roll,” Sparks said.
For details about the Pre-Medicine/Pre-Dentistry degree program, contact Southern Wesleyan at , call 877-644-5556 or visit swu.edu.
Southern Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered, student-focused learning community devoted to transforming lives by challenging students to be dedicated scholars and servant-leaders who impact the world for Christ. For details about degree programs, go online to swu.edu.