Ambassador Profile – Yashaswini Modak, Royal Veterinary College, London, UK.
Hi, I’m Yashu – President of the Zoological Society (RVCZS) at the Royal Veterinary College, London. I have been a part of The Expedition Project Ambassador team since 2019.
Although I have been working with The Expedition Project since 2019, since March 2020, we’ve been doing live streams and developing online courses with the help of Wildlife Vets like Dr. Peter Rogers, Ecologists like Terry-Lee Honiball and fellow ambassadors from around the world.
WHEN DID I FIRST REALISE I WANTED TO BE A VET?
I first realised I wanted to be a vet when I was 12. I rescued an orphaned baby fruit bat, and when the animal rescue services came in one of the volunteers made the off-handed comment that I should consider becoming a veterinarian. After some research and watching a lot of Bondi Vet, I was captivated. Of course, I wavered (I almost became a writer) but by the time I was 17 and it was time for college decisions I realised that my love for biology and my connection to animals really made me sure of my decision. I wish I could say I decided I wanted to a vet when I was 12 and it never changed – but I think it’s important for young people to not be too set in their ambitions and explore all their interests with fairness!
WHAT IS MY MOTIVATION TO BECOME A VET?
As a child, I always worried about the animals that surrounded me. Secretly, I wondered if the hamster I owned ever felt trapped – if the dog on the sidewalk was in pain. As I grew older, this worry grew into concern, and eventually I felt an overarching responsibility to speak up for animals since they are essentially noiseless in the human environments we’ve created for them. This I’d say is my largest motivation to become a vet, but I also enjoy the challenge of scientific problem solving. The daily challenges of the field are always inspiring me to be better.
MY BIGGEST TIP IF YOU WANT TO STUDY TO BECOME A VET IS…
Consistency! And my second biggest tip? Don’t be afraid to try out different study methods and schedules until you find out what works for you. I used to struggle with being an unfocused student, but I would always carve out ten minutes to half an hour a day in my calendar/journal to just sit down and work on my latest ‘challenge’ (in high school it was my vet school applications, in vet school it’s simply studying a challenging topic etc.). Nobody is perfect but a small amount of progress each day will do you wonders and is honestly the best way to succeed in this profession. As for study schedules, I experimented a lot with the Pomodoro technique and used a lot of flashcards. Don’t be afraid to trial new methods and take heart – work is much less intimidating when you are doing it ten minutes at a time!
THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A VET IS…
From all the vet practices I’ve worked with and the vets I’ve shadowed, I can already tell the hardest part for me is going to be objectivity. Vets are always making really difficult decisions when it comes to animal care based on finances and welfare. It can be hard to stay scientific and objective when you are attached to your patients but I think this is a skill all vets need to develop in order to have peaceful professional lives. Counterintuitively, dealing with people is another really challenging thing about being a vet – you’re always working with people, and when it comes to clients maintaining empathy can often be a challenge because you’re not going to instantly get along with everybody!
WHAT IS MY FAVOURITE ANIMAL?
My favorite animal is the Hyacinth Macaw (scientific name: Andorhynchus hyacinthinus), the largest species of macaw! I was dazzled by how big and how blue they are, and I love their yellow bordered eyes and seemingly goofy ‘smiles’.
MY FAVOURITE ANIMAL RELATED STORY IS…
My first time seeing birds nest! Our old christmas tree became the home of an olive-backed sunbird family. I remember when a storm tore their nest apart I rebuilt a new nest that the birds used instead. To my surprise, the mother allowed me to touch her chicks without being protective. I still remember watching the chicks growing up and flying away, never to return. I truly felt like I was a welcome part of nature without intruding on the birds’ natural behaviours.
MY FAVOURITE ANIMAL PHOTO I HAVE TAKEN IS…
This picture of me after my first time riding a horse was taken in July 2019. It’s my favorite because I grew up in the middle of a big city and had no experience with horses – I was actually rather scared of them. My friend allowed me to ride her horse and taught me all about their behaviour, it was a huge evening of growth for me because once I moved past my fear I realised that horses are truly sensitive and loving animals.