My veterinary journey
By Ralston Bent
I have never been one to back down from a challenge.This characteristic has allowed me to pursue my dreams with the necessary energy needed to succeed. Today, I am a JVB certified Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and have been with the Seprod group of companies for more than five years, but the road to certification in my beloved career was anything but easy or straightforward. My accomplishments so far have depended not only on myself, but also due to a number of inputs from some unexpected sources over the years.
When I was 19 years old, I left Jamaica for Cuba to study automation engineering, but I was grappling with my career choice. On one hand, I liked the science of medicine, but I did not like the actual job of working in the health facilities. On the other hand, I was always intrigued by mechanics and engineering, and enjoyed solving problems, but I could not find a common ground where both met.
I was extremely optimistic heading to Cuba, and the fact that I only had $78 USD on my person while boarding my flight was not a deterrent. I was just as happy and confident as my fellow adventurers on the flight, all of us heading to the unknown Cuban experience. I must admit that I was a little worried when I heard exclamations from my peers such as “I only have $3,000 USD, I am fretting,” but you couldn’t tell if I had a million dollars or $78 in my pocket by looking at me. I endeavored to portray the same confidence as any other person on the trip.
I spent two years in Cuba studying automation engineering. Although I liked it, I just didn’t feel fulfilled. I considered changing my career to medicine, but I could not shake the feeling that I might not be happy in that field either. So I went back to the drawing board; I asked myself, ’why don’t you look at veterinary medicine?’ I thought about it some more. The pros included the fact that I could branch off into immunology in the future, which is also one of my passions, or alternative medicine, which would help to reduce our dependence on antibiotics. The major drawback to this, however, was the fact that Cuban veterinary graduates had no clear avenue to board certification in Jamaica, and the many graduates before me all branched off into various other career paths or migrated to other countries.
But by now you would have surmised that this challenge was not enough to stop me. I was determined that I would graduate from the programme and also become certified in Jamaica. I was passionate about achieving my goal, and tucked in for the long haul with the same determination I had from birth. I started my journey with the idea in my head that I can succeed even if others had not.
I graduated from a cohort which originally started with 47 students. At the end of those five years, only nine of us remained, with me being the only foreign student left.
After overcoming that hurdle and graduating from Cuba, I returned to Jamaica. While I kept the end goal in my mind, I engaged in various jobs/careers—first as a Spanish teacher at a high school for four months, and then working at a tertiary agricultural institution as a lecturer. After that I entered the dairy and beef cattle industry, initially at a popular bauxite company before joining Seprod where I have remained for the last 5+ years.
Ultimately, the decision to join Seprod was one of the most important for advancing my veterinary career.
At Seprod, I was introduced to the work of the Seprod Foundation and I am still amazed to this day at the magnitude of the assistance given to educational advancement for so many beneficiaries from a wide cross-section of industries.
Through the assistance of the Seprod Foundation’s Dr. Jones scholarship, I was able to enroll in the advanced veterinary diagnostics programme at the Tuskegee University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. After completing this programme, I sat the JVB certification exam and was successful; making me eligible to practice veterinary medicine in Jamaica.
The journey was a long one—I attained certification almost seven years after graduating vet school—but the challenges have only made me appreciate it more.It has also taught me to be grateful, and to keep persevering while encouraging others to do the same. My goal is to teach others to understand that nothing is impossible if we put our minds to it. Also, while our success lies with ourselves, the assistance of a divine power, and the intervention of others through the various avenues like the Dr. Jones scholarship, is also extremely important.
I am grateful for the assistance of the Seprod Foundation. I encourage the other recipients past, present and future to persevere and make the most of the opportunities provided by the Foundation.