Creatures, great and small: They’re off to London’s Royal Veterinary College

Creatures, great and small: They’re off to London’s Royal Veterinary College

Kate Appleby-Wineberg (left) and Krista Vollbrecht display an Eastern rat snake, a diamondback terrapin and an Eastern kingsnake in the lab of Dr. Matthew Bealor, adviser of the Pre-Vet Club.

After graduating this May, two Rowan University biological sciences students will continue their education at London’s prestigious Royal Veterinary College (RVC), ranked as the top veterinary school in the world. Kate Appleby-Wineberg and Krista Vollbrecht will move to London in September and begin classes for the four-year program later that month.

“Getting into vet school anywhere is a challenge, and for those two, it’s a special thing to be able to get into the top-ranked program,” said Matthew Bealor, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological sciences and faculty adviser to student members of Pre-Vet Club. “I’m very excited and proud of both of them.”

Both Appleby-Wineberg and Vollbrecht long had ambitions to pursue veterinary medicine. Appleby-Wineberg, 21, grew up on a farm in Glassboro, beginning equestrian vaulting when she was seven years old. Vollbrecht, 21, remembered telling her pediatrician she wanted to be an animal doctor when she grew up.

When it came time to choose a college, Appleby-Wineberg and Vollbrecht found Rowan provided an opportunity for pre-vet students to gain valuable hands-on experience in the animal research lab, the student led Pre-Vet Club, guidance from Bealor as well as several advisers in Rowan's Office of Pre-Health Programs.

“Connections with professors have been really helpful,” Appleby-Wineberg said. “A few of them have written letters of recommendation for me for the application.”

“I was happy to find out that Rowan had a Pre-Vet Club,” said Vollbrecht, who is the co-president of Pre-Vet Club. “I also got involved with Dr. Bealor and his animal research lab. He was a huge help to me with finding the pre-vet focus. He helped guide me to different opportunities, particularly in his research lab. I got a lot of exotic animal experience through that.”

As a part of the veterinary school application process, students must attain several hundred hours of veterinary medical work experience. Appleby-Wineberg worked with a vet in Cross Keys who specializes in chickens, a local large animal vet, an exotics specialist, a sheep farmer, and the Gloucester County Animal Shelter. Vollbrecht began her field work with a volunteer organization called Rescue Kitty and then moved onto a general practice veterinary hospital, followed by working with an equine veterinarian, in an emergency veterinary hospital, and with fish, snakes and turtles in Bealor's research lab.

The Royal Veterinary College was the top choice of vet school for both Appleby-Wineberg and Vollbrecht. Both students are excited for the opportunity to travel while studying and to visit veterinary clinics throughout the world. 

Rowan University is establishing the first school of veterinary medicine in New Jersey with plans to welcome its inaugural class of 60 students in 2025. Appleby-Wineberg and Vollbrecht’s admission into the prestigious Royal Veterinary College is an indicator of Rowan’s ability to prepare undergraduates for veterinary schools, noted Dr. Grace Farber, director of the Office of Pre-Health Programs and associate dean in the College of Science & Mathematics. 

“Rowan University’s Office of Pre-Health Programs works closely with faculty and professional schools to ensure students have the individualized advising and programming to support their journey to health care,” Farber said. “We have robust application-year support, so that students feel confident in that process.  Leading up to that year, students receive guidance related to their progress, access to experiential learning opportunities, and continual feedback from their pre-health adviser and faculty mentors.”

“We have been preparing students well to get into vet schools and it’s really come to fruition over the last three or four years,” Bealor added. “Since we’re going to have a vet school, we definitely want to have a great pre-vet program and we want to make sure that families know that Rowan is a great place for undergrads interested in applying to vet med programs."