While growing up in Singapore, 10th-semester Rossie, Kaijie Chua, class of 2021, enjoyed watching animal documentaries and reading books about them. But it was his role model back then, Australian zookeeper "The Crocodile Hunter," Steve Irwin, who through his passion and love for animals, inspired Kaijie to pursue a career that would allow him to work with animals. Kaijie also realized that he loved to help others and a career in veterinary medicine would allow him to fulfill both desires.
Now, Kaijie is completing his clinical year in New Zealand at Massey University – following his passion and love for animals.
“My experience during my clinical year has been great so far. I was given an amazing opportunity to do my clinical year in New Zealand and I have enjoyed the gorgeous landscapes that the country has during my farm service rotation. The other students and professors are also very friendly and understanding so, I have had a great time during my rotations. My clinical year is the time where I can put what I have learned on the island to use in real-life situations so, it is a fulfilling feeling when I am finally able to follow what the clinicians are saying and give my inputs when treating animals.”
Before coming to Ross Vet, Kaijie Chua began his veterinary medicine journey when he completed a diploma in Veterinary Technology at Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore. His love for animals allowed him to travel overseas to Malaysia and Hong Kong to work with a variety of animals including turtles and dolphins. After that, he spent two years working with the Singapore Police Force as part of his country’s National Service before flying to Ross Vet.
“Singapore doesn’t have a veterinary school, so I had to travel overseas to pursue my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (DVM). I chose Ross Vet because of its accelerated program which would allow me to become a veterinarian earlier than other veterinary schools. Besides, I have always wanted to travel around the world to meet new people and learn new things. An opportunity to travel to a tropical island halfway across the world was one that was too good to miss.”
During his time on the island, Kaijie considers scuba diving around the island one of his greatest experiences. He was able to dive in St Kitts’ beautiful waters as the Safety Officer for the Ross Vet Scuba Club.
“Words can’t describe how amazing it was to witness first-hand the beauty of St Kitts’ underwater world and the wide variety of marine animals like sharks and turtles that call it home. It was also a great getaway from the stress of vet school, and I love the feeling of calmness and peace that I experienced during my dives. Looking back on my on-island experience, I would tell myself to start socializing earlier and make more memories with my island family. This is because the two years that I spent on the island flew by much faster than I expected and my only regret when I left the island was not doing enough things with my island family.”
It was Kaijie’s island family that supported him through his most challenging periods during his DVM experience.
“Veterinary school is not easy, and I believe that finding time to do something I enjoy has helped me cope during this program. The single most important thing that helped me through veterinary school was my island family. They were there for me during my darkest days when I needed someone to talk to. The great and fun times that I spent with them have made going through the grueling program much easier and I am positive that without them, I would not have been able to make it.”
Although he is miles away from his island family, Kaijie remains in contact with them and finds time to share his milestones in clinical year with them. His most exciting experience to date includes performing his first successful calving during one of his calving rotations. Although it was exhausting, he felt a great sense of fulfillment in the end knowing that he played a part in helping to bring a new life into this world. As a bonus, the farmer named the calf after him.
With his eyes set on graduating in 2021, Kaijie plans on continuing to live in New Zealand and gain experience to become an independent and competent veterinarian. No matter how long it takes, he also plans on fulfilling his childhood dream and pursues a specialization in zoo medicine, following in the footsteps of his first role model, Steve Irwin.