As a child, playing her favorite game of “vet” using her plastic stethoscope and giving physicals to her stuffed animals, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (Ross Vet) third-semester student, Alyssa Sparnon, class of 2023 knew from an early age that becoming a veterinarian was her true calling. It was this innate belief coupled with the unwavering support of her parents, that has helped make Alyssa’s dream a reality.
Alyssa shares that it was her mother who instilled the love and kindness for animals into her heart. Alyssa and her mother spent precious time together enjoying a favorite pass time of watching Animal Planet, with Alyssa’s mother further guiding Alyssa’s love and curiosity towards animals before her untimely passing.
Alyssa’s father was steadfast in his belief in her, teaching her that she could be anything she wanted to be and do anything she set her mind to. Alyssa credits her father for all that she has accomplished, sharing, “I owe everything I am to my father.”
Before being accepted to Ross Vet, Alyssa served as a veterinary technician at a small animal general practice located in Wilmington, North Carolina. During her undergraduate program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where Alyssa earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, Alyssa became a certified service dog trainer, discovering her love of building the bond between dogs and people. Alyssa next spent four years working at Coastal Carolina Wildlife Rehabilitation and was fortunate enough to travel to South Africa and volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary, working with lions, elephants, cheetahs, and hoofstock.
Throughout Alyssa’s veterinary work experience and her relentless training to gain as much experience as possible, her dedication to the field of veterinary medicine was tested more than once, but never more so than in 2019, when Alyssa states nothing could have prepared her for what came next.
In early 2019, Alyssa was faced with a complex medical condition, one that some of her doctors worried could prove fatal. A mass on Alyssa’s liver was discovered, followed by several complicated diagnostic tests from a variety of specialists and doctors. Due to the seriousness of Alyssa’s diagnosis, which entailed surgery to remove half of her liver and her gallbladder, she had to withdraw from her classes to recover from her surgery and regain her health.
True to her spirit and resolve, that’s exactly what Alyssa did. In less than three weeks, Alyssa returned to work at the small animal clinic and in another two weeks was able to return to the classes she had medically withdrawn from. Managing her recovery, working full-time, and completing a 17-week course in five weeks, not only did Alyssa finish, but she excelled, a true testimonial to her father’s and Alyssa’s belief that she can do anything she puts her mind to.
Alyssa’s sights are now set on experiencing all the best of what Ross Vet has to offer. “I chose Ross Vet because of the uniqueness of the school. I wanted the opportunity to get the hands-on experience Ross Vet is known for, but also, to be honest, the unique experiences you can only have at Ross Vet, like being able to snorkel after class or hike a volcano on the weekend. And what I’ve experienced so far has completely exceeded my expectations.”
Alyssa adds, “The professors truly care about your success and go above and beyond to support their students. Life on the island has been nothing I could have imagined. The country has so much to offer in terms of an incredible culture, amazing scenery, and unique experiences. Living in St. Kitts is very different from living in the United States. This experience has really taught me to appreciate my surroundings and take advantage of all Ross Vet and St. Kitts has to offer.”
Alyssa currently serves as the president of both the Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA) and Zoo, Exotics, and Wildlife Medicine Club (ZEW) and serves as a teaching assistant for the Veterinary Preparatory program (Vet Prep).
Alyssa’s plans include developing in a field close to her heart, conservation. She has a strong interest in exotic animals and wildlife and her goal is to train to become a board-certified zoological veterinarian. “Zoos are at the forefront of conservation and to be able to work at an accredited zoo to battle species endangerment would be a dream come true. I would be honored to work with such incredible animals that I am constantly in awe of.”