Sara Van Der Leek

Finding Her True Calling

Class of 2018

Sara Van Der Leek current

Sara van der Leek, a junior Biology and Pre-Vet major from Plainview, TX certainly has her hands full. Along with her classes she works part time at the Central Plains Veterinary Clinic, rides horses in a sport known as evening, is working on a research project on the Texas horned lizard and is a member of both the Texas Academy of Science and the Alpha Chi Honor Society.

After graduation, van der Leek plans to attend veterinary school at Texas A&M.

On academic rigor…

“I have found all of the classes to be challenging in a good way. There is definitely enough content that succeeding in a class requires studying and hard work, but not to the point that it is completely overwhelming. Although it can be stressful trying to get everything done.”

On experiential learning…

“The biology classes allow you to be hands on with a lot of different things. Last semester the ecology and plant taxonomy classes went on multiple trips to other ecoregions that included identifying plants, bird watching, fishing, and learning about the ecology of that area and some about the animals that inhabit it.”

On the quality faculty…

“All of my professors have been great and very accessible for when I have questions or need help.”

On finding your excellence…

“Since I was little I've always loved animals, especially since both of my parents are veterinarians. From the start, I knew that was what I wanted to be, which was helped by the fact that we have always had dogs, cats and horses around. I feel like I've found my true calling in being around animals and helping them when I can with the ultimate goal of becoming a veterinarian. That is what has pushed me to achieve more in school and in extracurricular activities. With the help of my event trainer, Rachel Paladino, I'm retraining an OTTB (Off-the-track Thoroughbred) to be an upper level event horse, and with the help of Dr. Kasner I'm able to do research on a threatened species that need our protection. This spring our research poster won best poster at WBUs Spring Research Day, and best terrestrial ecology poster at the TAS (Texas Academy of Science) meeting. We have also won several other grants to help fund our continued research efforts!”