Hard work and determination: the two things that have pushed Bailey Thomas to do everything she can to reach her career goals of becoming a veterinarian.
Thomas, agriculture animal science senior, was one of 20 undergraduate students in the nation chosen to participate in the USDA’s 93rd Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program in Arlington, VA this past week.
“I didn’t realize how big a deal this conference was until I was awarded it,” Thomas said. “We were told on the first day of the program that it is highly prestigious. By the end of the week, I was told that there will be internships and jobs being held for me just because I went to this event.”
The application process is extensive. Dr. Elizabeth Benavides, assistant professor of agriculture, announced the program in class during the fall semester, and Thomas knew that she needed to apply for this opportunity.
“Bailey is very dedicated to her goals of being a veterinarian and is eager to succeed,” Benavides said. “The participant had to be from a land-grant institution, like Texas State or A&M, and Bailey was the sole candidate from Texas. Bailey is taking all the right steps to get into veterinary school and achieve her goals.”
Benavides is not only Thomas’ professor and PVS sponsor, but also her go-to person.
“I met Benavides my sophomore year when I got involved with the PVS,” Thomas said. “Since my first meeting with her, we have developed a plan for my future and a close relationship. She is the person I go to for everything, and has become my personal mentor.”
Thomas has been passionate about animals since she was seven years old. Growing up, she always had at least one pet, and her maternal grandparents played a big role in the development.
“My parents had many animals while I was growing up and while Bailey was growing up,” said Amanda Parker, Thomas’ mother. “Bailey was never in 4H because we lived in the city, so I believe that her passion for animals comes from the volunteer work we’ve done in Houston in part with the genetic passage from my raising animals as a young child.”
According to Thomas’ dad David Thomas, she has passed every expectation he has ever had for his daughter.
“As a parent, you wonder if the things you told your children rolled in one ear and out the other, but in this case I know she paid attention,” David Thomas said. “I couldn’t be more proud or impressed with everything she has done and everything she continues to do.”
Bailey Thomas said her dad, mother and stepfather were the most influential role models in her life, and credits them for the person she is today.
“The family on my mom and my dad’s side both taught me this love and cherishment for animals,” Bailey Thomas said. “My mom and my step dad are in the medical field, and being raised in that environment exposed me to the terminology. All of my parents have always been there and supported me.”
Thomas is the president of the PVS. This organization coordinates speakers and events within the community to prepare the members of the society for vet school.
“My favorite project is seeing all of our work come together,” said Sydney Lyon, agriculture animal science senior and vice president of PVS. “Watching each other grow as leaders and individuals is my favorite part of the society. Bailey is going to be a great leader and will accomplish many great things in life.”
Thomas feels that the outlook forum has given her an amazing opportunity for her ideal future plans of being a veterinarian for an exotic habitat.
“Getting my name out there and conversing with people from the USDA, House Agriculture Committee and the Office of Advocacy and Outreach gave me a feel for all of the different aspects of being in the veterinary field,” Thomas said. “I would love to work at a sanctuary or a breeding program in a zoo, but I also have an interest in working with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. There’s a lot of options that I have been exposed to with this conference, and I met so many important people that I could potentially work for one day.”