Call of Duty
Posted on Apr 12, 2022
Military duty and family life did not deter Dr. Cindy (Hughes) Brown from becoming a veterinarian.
Brown, an associate veterinarian at Plantation Centre Animal Hospital in Macon, Georgia, graduated from Fort Valley State University in 2000 with a degree in veterinary technology. There, she practices in small and exotic animal medicine and surgery at the first and only place of employment where she started as a veterinary technician.
Before my freshman year of college at Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University), I knew I wanted a career in veterinary medicine. During that time I took some animal science courses to get started,” Brown said.
After her first year, Brown enlisted in the U.S. Army and became a combat medic. “I joined because I wanted to serve my country and in doing so, I could also finish my college degree by using my GI bill,” Brown said. She said serving as a medic was an easy choice and could lead to possible civilian opportunities as a paramedic.
While in the Army Reserves in North Carolina and attending community college, Brown decided to restart her studies in veterinary medicine. “My parents moved to Georgia and they brought it to my attention that there was a veterinary technology program at FVSU. Considering that I could transfer military units and move closer to them, I applied and got accepted to the program.”
Dr. Cindy Brown, a Fort Valley State University Alumna and U.S. Army veteran, is an associate veterinarian in Macon, Georgia.
Brown’s transition to a smaller college proved to be eye-opening. “I would say that my experience was very welcoming and much different from what I was exposed to at Virginia Tech. It felt more like home, I didn’t feel lost and all of the professors, staff and students were recognizable and approachable,” she said.
Furthermore, Brown said the program’s small size allowed her to develop fond memories and relationships with fellow students and instructors. “We were able to develop not just in the setting of an educational institution, but we were able to share life experiences together,” Brown said. She also credits former department head Dr. Frank Lochner for inspiring her to do well in her studies.
Her extracurricular activities included participating in the Veterinary Technology Club where she held the position of president and vice president. During her time in the organization, they held toy drives and visited several nursing homes.
Being a full-time veterinary technician after graduation briefly delayed Brown’s plans to become a veterinarian. “I had other interests. I did not actually get serious about applying for vet school until I had already been married and working as a veterinary technician for a couple of years,” she said. She eventually enrolled in veterinary school at Tuskegee University.
While attending Tuskegee, Brown continued to work part-time at the hospital during weekends and holidays until graduating in 2007. She then returned to the clinic and was promoted to her present position.
The former army officer credits FVSU’s hands-on methods in successfully preparing her for veterinary school and practice. “Some of my classmates at veterinary school had never even touched a dog before attending. So, I had a head start on things like animal restraint, pharmacology and other courses compared to students who may have only had experience with their family pet or studying a more generalized undergraduate degree,” Brown said.
Brown gets job satisfaction by connecting with families and their pets. “Being a veterinarian is not always about cute puppies or cuddly kittens. Families and their life experiences with their pet is just as enjoyable to me as the medical aspect of this profession. As their veterinarian, I know that God has placed me in this position for a purpose,” she said.
Additionally, Brown said there is more to being a veterinarian than education and money. “You can do those things, go to school and get that degree, but the goal should be not only to become a veterinarian, but be one with compassion, empathy and sympathy. Those factors go a long way not only for the animals you treat, but also for the people attached to them,” she said
Brown’s advice for students interested in FVSU’s veterinary technician program is straightforward. “I basically would tell them that if they have a true interest in promoting animal health and quality care in the industry, the program at FVSU will help them realize those goals. Plus, when they complete the program, many career opportunities will be available because they will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree rather than a certificate or associate degree,” the FVSU graduate said.
Brown and her husband, Clayton, have one son, Eli. When away from the clinic, she enjoys vacationing and any activities that involves her son’s training for wrestling and football. The family is also involved with the ministry at the Apostolics of Byron Church in Byron, Georgia.
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