Jayla was first drawn to the veterinary field because of her love for animals. Mixing in her interest in animal behavior and biology, and becoming a veterinarian quickly became her dream job.

Her focus, she said, is emphasizing the bond people share with their pets. She intends to care for pet owners’ anxiety of having a sick or injured pet while treating the animal, and she also hopes to help animals in need.

“I strongly believe that studying veterinary medicine would allow me to expand my knowledge and explore ways to improve the lives of animals and animal owners,” Jayla said.

Jayla has taken many courses with the University of Nebraska High School (UNHS) that have fostered her interest and prepared her for college, including Chemistry 1 and Chemistry 2.

During the past few years, Jayla has also participated in summer programs to help her prepare for college-level science. One spring break she spent on a volunteer trip in Chicago, Ill., traveling the city and learning about public health. She also took a two-week college course about medical history at John Hopkins University. She has already applied to a couple veterinary-specific programs for this summer as well.

By attending these programs Jayla said she has a better idea of what a career in veterinary medicine will entail. They also gave her a glimpse into veterinary college and the expectations that come with the higher-level courses.

“I’m incredibly excited to attend a vet program this summer, because it will push me one step closer to my dream job,” Jayla said.

With all of this college-prep, Jayla is growing more and more excited for her college experience. She has many applications out for her undergraduate, and for veterinarian school she is considering Ohio State University, University of Wisconsin or the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Jayla has also taken leadership roles in her community of Columbus, Ohio. She is a mentor in a local “Reading Buddies” program that encourages reading and promotes literacy among five-to-ten-year-olds. She is also a member of the Youth Philharmonic of Central Ohio. Finally, she is a presenter for the environmental group “The Climate Project,” for which she creates and shares presentations about environmental issues with public high school students and home school groups.

“Initially, I was invited to participate in The Climate Project’s training program in 2010 because I actively participated in the groups’ online blog,” she said. “After joining the presenters group, I have been able to share my passion about the importance of using alternative energy sources and finding ways to protect our Earth’s natural resources."

As students start to consider their college major and eventual career path, Jayla says it is important to keep options open.

"Don't limit your major to what you think you will be good at. College is so vastly different and more difficult than high school. Seek out a major that you think you will still be passionate and curious about."