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HHS grad goes the distance to be a vet

Liz Cooksey earned her white coat as a first year member of her veterinary class at St. Georges University in Grenada . She will complete four years of study including her final year at a veterinary school in the United States.1 / 3
Liz Cooksey has wanted to be a veterinarian since she was a young girl. She hopes to specialize in large animals like these cows.2 / 3
Cooksey said her course of study at St. George's University is rigorous but the paradise-like setting helps as this view from the campus shows.3 / 3

Liz Cooksey has known she wanted to be a veterinarian since she was a young girl and she is willing to go the distance to achieve that goal. That distance has taken her a long way from her Hudson roots to St. Georges University in Grenada in the southeastern Caribbean Sea.

Following her graduation from UW-Madison with a degree in bio-chemistry, Cooksey knew what her next step would be. But competition to get into the less than 30 veterinary schools in the United States is very stiff so when she learned of the accredited program at St. George's she applied and was accepted.

Cooksey said it was a little intimidating attending a university sight unseen in a foreign country but she kept her goal in mind and took a leap of faith. After a year of study, she says that leap has paid off.

St. George's School of Veterinary Medicine has graduated more than 600 since the program began 10 years ago. It is fully accredited with the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education. As part of her St. George's program, Cooksey will spend her fourth and final year of study at program in the United States.

Cooksey said she is enjoying the experience of studying outside the United States, noting that a majority of her instructors as well as fellow students are from America. She said the school matched her with a student mentor from the program who helped her acclimate to her new surroundings.

Her impressions are generally positive. "It has been a great experience - really better than I expected. I have enjoyed meeting new people and living in a new culture. I try to spend time with the locals as much as possible. They have a lot of pride in their culture and their country. I don't want to miss experiencing that for myself," said Cooksey.

Cooksey said it took a little get used to the "laid back approach" of Grenadians. "It isn't something that comes natural to us. They just have a much different mindset. They just don't see the need to be so busy all the time."

She said this sometimes conflicts with the way the students, most of them non-native, react. "They can get pretty impatient if lunch takes more time than they think it should. Fast food isn't something is valued here."

She admits that the pace can sometime be annoying but she has decided to embrace it. "I like the lifestyle and I've made friends there. I like to go downtown and shop in the markets as much as possible. It is all part of the experience."

Language is generally not a barrier, since English is the official language but there is "island English," something Cooksey is learning.

Cooksey has been home for the summer that has included shadowing a veterinarian in Michigan for several weeks. She will return to Grenada next month to begin her second year of study. White she appreciates going to graduate school "in paradise," she says the upcoming autumn is the time she misses home the most.

"There are lots of things I miss but I think I miss the change from summer to fall the most - the changing colors, wearing scarves and sweaters. That's hard."

Cooksey said while she might have preferred going to vet school in the states, she is happy to be where she is at. "It is a great experience, a unique experience. It has been a good thing to do, something different and I am accomplishing something I wanted. As long as I end up a vet working with large animals, I will be satisfied."

Cooksey is the daughter of Jim and Pat Cooksey of Hudson.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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