A couple of years ago, FECAVA started a student travel scholarship program. The program enables 10 students with not more than 2 students studying in the same country, to attend our annual EuroCongress. The idea is to enable our forthcoming colleagues to benefit from the experience of attending an international veterinary conference. The students are given free entrance and FECAVA helps each student with 300 Euros to cover their travel and accommodation expenses.
Over the last 20 years I have been consistently impressed with the enthusiam and the knowledge of the vet students who saw practice at my clinic in Virginia Water – they were so much better than I was at that time during my education…… – and a lot of them are now good friends and some of them are leaders in their own national organizations.
The students we met in St.Petersburg were even better……
When applying for the scholarship they had to submit a motivational letter (in English, which is for most of them not their native language) and their English CV. As part of the decision making committee I spent a whole extremely entertaining evening going through the applications of the twenty shortlisted candidates. To say the least, it blew me away….:
Most of them were not only academically high achievers, they had also found time to be student leaders at their faculties, most of them were multilingual, often studying not in their native country or in their native language. Several of the applicants had done charitable work, had organized continuing education events for their fellow students and had seen practice in centers of clinical excellence which even I could just dream of visiting. To top it all, most of them are super fit and/or have managed to entertain a hobby or have other completely no-veterinary related skills.
There is no better example for this, than the current International Veterinary Student Association (IVSA) President Elwin van Oldenborgh.
Elwin is studying veterinary medicine in Utrecht and we had met already at the World Congress in July in Toronto where we had an epic battle at the now well established 5k (sometimes not so) Fun Run – a great start !
Elwin is a keen learner and very dedicated to his studies and he was attending all the lectures he could muster, alongside his oficiall meetings.
In St.Petersburg he was not only the first one to encourage his fellow students to savour the nightlife, he also turned out to be the last one to leave – a privilege which I had thought was reserved for me…..
Not enough with that – without speaking more than a couple of words Russian, he invaded the stage and took over the music (rather good I thought…..).
This was even more impressive considering that virtually no alcohol was involved…..
I had to admit that I clearly had found my match and I am sure that we need not to worry about the future leaders at least in our profession…..