When Kathryn Sutherland (’19 Microbiology) was growing up her father was in the U.S. Air Force and they moved so frequently, she was never able to own pets.
Looking for an opportunity to find the human-animal bond, she applied as a kennel technician for a veterinary hospital at the age of 14.
“I didn’t know it was illegal to do the work at that age, so I applied. They must have not known either, because I got the job,” Sutherland said. “That cemented it; working with animals was like heaven.”
With her Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology from Washington State University’s School of Molecular Biosciences already in hand, Sutherland is now in her third year of WSU’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program.
She capitalized on the College of Veterinary Medicine’s 7-year fast track program, which allows the college’s undergraduate honors students to get a veterinary degree one year earlier.
Sutherland found out in her second year of undergrad that she was accepted in WSU’s veterinary medicine program. “I didn’t have to look anywhere else. I knew I was going to stay at WSU,” Sutherland said.
To Sutherland, veterinary medicine is “a puzzle that you get to solve, and the reward is getting to watch the animals recover.”
She has a knack for exotic animals. “It could really be anything from wild birds to lizards, or guinea pigs and hamsters,” Sutherland said. “I am probably more inclined to pocket pets and small mammals. I have three guinea pigs myself, so there’s a soft spot there.”
She said microbiology was a good choice for an undergraduate degree because it gave her a good background for immunology and other classes that deal with disease.
Sutherland said after graduation in 2022 she hopes to work at a small animal practice. She isn’t ruling out volunteer work in shelter medicine either.
“There’s something about helping animals who can’t talk and their owners who are worried about them,” she said. “This is really the only career I can imagine myself doing.”