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Class of 2012: Jackie Martin aspires to career in veterinary medicine

Because she has taken advantage of the post-secondary education option, Jackie Martin has spent more time at Minnesota West Community and Technical College than at Worthington High School.(Beth Rickers/Daily Globe

This is the third story in a four-part series focusing on graduating seniors at Worthington High School. The final story will run next Saturday.

WORTHINGTON -- Technically, Jacqueline "Jackie" Martin is a senior -- a soon-to-graduate senior -- at Worthington High School. But she is also a sophomore in college.

Thanks to the post-secondary education option offered through WHS, Jackie already has a year and a half worth of college classes under her belt at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington campus.

"I went out to Minnesota West my junior year," explained Jackie. "I've taken mostly generals, so when I get to the U, I'll have those out of the way."

Because her goal is to eventually be a large-animal veterinarian, Jackie anticipates that the time she put in at Minnesota West will shorten the time it will take her to eventually get her veterinary science degree at the University of Minnesota.

"It's always been at the top of my list," said Jackie about the U of M Twin Cities campus, which also happens to be the place where her parents, Deb and Tom Martin of rural Worthington, studied and met. Her mother is an ag teacher in District 518, and her father farms, drives truck and does tax work. "I checked out other places, but it was the only place I applied to. But then it's the only school that offered the program that I wanted. ... The U offers a special program where I can get it done faster.

"And it's home."

Jackie even hopes to stay in the same dorm where her parents once lived.

"It's the only dorm on the St. Paul campus. It's right on the ag campus, so it would be nice to be around kids with similar intersts," she said. "It's an old dorm, and only half of it is air-conditioned, so you get a room that either has air conditioning or a sink. I think I'd rather have the sink; I can live without air conditioning. I'm really hoping for a sink."

In addition to giving her a leg up on college credit-wise, Jackie's classes at Minnesota West have already gotten her into the swing of studying at the college level.

"It was hard for me at first, setting aside the time to study," especially for the online courses, Jackie shared. "You have to make a commitment: 'I'm going to study and be here at this time.' Going out there has helped my study habits. I didn't think I'd like online classes, but I actually learn math better. There are so many ways they help you understand it, and you do the program until you get it right. It's nice to have someone as patient as the computer -- the computer is nice when you get it wrong, and when you get it right, it compliments you. It's turned out to be a good thing."

During her senior year, Jackie would spend from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Minnesota West campus, then go to work for a few hours before committing to a serious study time beginning at about 7 p.m. This year, her college schedule has included biology, Spanish, micro-economics, college algebra and speech.

"I'm going to take calculus this summer, so when I go to the U of M, I won't have to touch math again, except for the science aspects of it," she said.

While she hasn't spent much time in the halls of WHS for classes, Jackie has managed to stay involved at the school, compiling an impressive list of extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities during her high school career. Tops among those activities would be FFA and Speech.

"I was on the officers' team for three years, was president senior year and before that was treasurer," said Jackie about FFA. "I was on the dairy evaluation team, the parliamentary procedure team and had lots of volunteer opportunities, like with the Beef Check-Off, Christmas Baskets and ditch cleanup."

Jackie credits FFA with giving her leadership and speaking skills and making friends from all over the country.

"And I found out that parliamentary procedure comes in handy," she noted. "It actually makes meetings go quicker."

As a member of the WHS Speech Team, Jackie further honed her speaking skills and gained confidence in her abilities. She placed seventh at the state speech tournament in 2011 and third this year.

"I did storytelling, in the extemporaneous category," she explained. "People question your sanity when you do that category. When you do it for four years, from January to April, every Saturday, it helps you get over the nerves."

Another highlight of her high school career would have to be representing Nobles Co-Operative Electric on the youth tour to Washington, D.C. It was a whirlwind five-day trip, Jackie reported, during which the students were exposed to the workings of national government.

"But my favorite part of the trip was that somebody donated some money so we go to go see 'Wicked' at the Kennedy Center," she said. "I'd never been to a place like that, so grand and classy. I recently saw a program on TV that was filmed there, and it was neat to say I'd been there."

When she gets to the University of Minnesota, Jackie hopes to be involved in some form of collegiate agriculture, but she also knows that the coursework involved in pursuing a veterinary degree will keep her well occupied.

"Ideally, I would like to get involved in some of the research facilities. That's one of my goals up there," she said. "There are over 300 clubs up there, so I'm sure I'll find something to do."

Jackie's current job might pave the way for her to work in a research facility. She is an employee of the Worthington Veterinary Clinic.

"I work a couple days a week and one weekend a month," she explained. "I take care of the animals that are boarding there -- walk them, feed them, give them their pills. And because I'm a sucker, I pet them a lot. On weekends, if the vet has to come in, I help the vet. I've learned how a clinic runs. They can teach you that at school, but there are a lot of little things you pick up.

"Everybody out there has been very patient with me, because I ask a lot of questions. It's not like a job at all," she continued. "If I want to watch a surgery or ride with the vets, I can do that. I've visited hog barns, a parlor dairy, and in surgery, it's very neat to see the different things they can do."

A canine fancier herself, Jackie admits that she tends to spoil the dogs that frequent the veterinary center. She and her beagle, Joey, make visits to the Maple Lawn Nursing Home in Fulda as part of her community service activities.

"We hang out, play cards, and because beagles are small, she can sit on their laps," said Jackie about the interaction with the residents.

Although she has enjoyed seeing the small-animal side of veterinary science, Jackie has her heart set on working with larger animals.

"I've loved animals all my life," she said. "It's just something that I've always loved, and my grandparents have a dairy farm, so I've kind of grown up around them."

She's especially intrigued by the scientific research involving swine, although she finds cows and horses to have "entertaining personalities," and knows that she would work with all those in the career she foresees for herself.

"In 10 years -- because it's a seven-year program and I'll have knocked a year off of that -- I think I'll be working at a smaller town clinic somewhere in the Midwest," she said. "There's a shortage of vets, so I'll go wherever they need me to go, but I like the Midwest -- the people here, the morals and values we have here. Maybe I wouldn't end up back in Worthington, but I'd like to be someplace in Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa."

Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at 376-7327.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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