Ambassador Profile – Dr Joanna Wilson, Dunblane, Scotland.
Hi, I’m Joanna – Co-Founder of the Dick Vet Wildlife Conservation Society at Edinburgh University. I have been a part of The Expedition Project Ambassador team since 2020.
Since working with The Expedition Project I have been doing live streams and developing online courses with the help of Wildlife Vets like Dr Peter Rogers, and fellow ambassadors from around the world.
WHEN DID I FIRST REALISE I WANTED TO BE A VET?
I don’t actually remember the first time I realised that I wanted to be a vet but I do remember the first time I ever visited a vet school when I was about 6 or 7 and I visited the dick vet equine hospital in Edinburgh with my mum’s horse and I remember looking at the vets in their boiler suits and thinking ‘I want to do that someday’.
WHAT IS MY MOTIVATION TO BECOME A VET?
My motivation to become a vet comes from an inherent desire to promote change that I’ve had for as long as I can remember. To be in a position where I can educate and show others the beauty of wildlife and how they can come to appreciate it too if they just know where to look. I want to keep learning and developing and moving forward until I can do something which makes a tangible difference to the world and the animals that we are fortunate enough to share it with.
MY BIGGEST TIP IF YOU WANT TO STUDY TO BECOME A VET IS…
Do not let anyone stand in your way – including yourself! If you have the motivation and the grit to get there, you will. Admissions aren’t looking for you to have an IQ as high as Einstein (although that would definitely make sitting exams a bit easier!), they want to see that you have resilience and passion and an appetite for learning what they are trying to teach you. Vet school is a pretty hard gig for all of us, and you’re not going to get through it unless you know when to dig in and grit your teeth.
THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A VET IS…
Knowing when it is time to admit that you cannot make something better despite giving it your best effort. We all want to do our best and to fix as many things as we can but sometimes the biggest moments of growth are when we admit that we know we can’t fix it, even though we tried.
WHAT IS MY FAVOURITE ANIMAL?
Elephants!!! I have been obsessed with them ever since I could talk. Their intelligence and family structures really intrigue me! And ladybirds too – a random but firm favourite throughout my childhood.
MY FAVOURITE ANIMAL RELATED STORY IS…
My first experience with African wildlife was when I was 18 years old and I worked on a project in Zimbabwe. I was asked to help some of the rangers walk a group of three lion cubs through the bush in the early morning – around 5.30am, just as it was getting light. There was a boy cub called Tonga and he was just starting to grow the beginning of his mane, a little tuft on the top of his head. I just remember him walking alongside me the whole time, brushing against my leg and making the little ‘wow’ noise that lion cubs do, occasionally tapping my ankles with his spotty paws because he wanted me to play with him. I think that was the moment that I realised that I would have to come back to Africa because the bug had well and truly bitten me.
MY FAVOURITE ANIMAL PHOTO I HAVE TAKEN IS…
A photo I took while volunteering in Kephalonia, Greece in 2020.