For MSU’s graduating Schraeder sisters, veterinary medicine is all in the family

Contact: James Carskadon

Petal natives Sarah and Kate Schraeder, pictured with their three dogs on Mississippi State University’s Drill Field, will graduate from MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine on Friday [May 5]. (Photo by Beth Wynn)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—In 2013, the Schraeder sisters in Petal anxiously awaited acceptance letters to Mississippi State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Both Kate and Sarah Schraeder had applied with hopes of being in the university’s CVM Class of 2017. Eventually, good news came the Schraeders’ way.

“I don’t think my parents have ever been happier than when we got in at the same time,” Sarah Schraeder said. “Kate and I were nervous one of us would get in but the other wouldn’t, but our parents were terrified. They cried when we got in, and I don’t know what they’ll do when we graduate.”

Kate and Sarah will get to see how their parents react to both of them walking across the stage during a Friday commencement ceremony at MSU. For the Schraeder sisters and approximately 2,900 other candidates for spring graduation, this weekend’s ceremonies represent the completion of one journey and the beginning of another.

Although their family has strong ties to the University of Southern Mississippi, becoming a Bulldog was a natural fit for Kate and Sarah. Both spent time in their teenage years working in Panther Pet Hospital in Petal, which is owned by their aunt, Dr. Christine Gibson, also an MSU CVM graduate.

Kate, the older sister, graduated from USM in 2011 with a degree in exercise physiology and a minor in biology. She originally planned to pursue medical school, but three months of employment at an emergency hospital in California helped her realize she wanted to take a different career path. She went on to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in Tampa, Florida, where she helped at-risk students improve literacy skills. After returning to Petal, Kate then decided to pursue veterinary school.

At the same time, Sarah was preparing to graduate from USM with a degree in biology. Despite considering nursing and medical school while she was an undergraduate student, Sarah said she knew from a young age she wanted to be a veterinarian. When the time came for veterinary school, Sarah and Kate moved into an apartment together in Starkville and supported each other through the classwork and clinicals that are constants in the lives of aspiring veterinarians.

“It was fortunate that we happened to get in at the same time,” Kate said. “We’re a good balance. She’s very ‘type A.’ I am not. She keeps me on track, and I force her to relax.”

Kate and Sarah share their apartment with three dogs and two cats, all of which are rescue animals.

In addition to strengthening their own bond, Kate and Sarah said they have grown close with their fellow CVM Class of 2017 members during their time at the university. The Schraeders also feel their time at MSU has prepared them for their next steps. Kate has accepted a small animal rotating internship position in Springfield, Virginia. Sarah will move to Denver, Colorado, where she has accepted a similar position.

“Only three vet schools in the country give students two years in the classroom and two years of clinics,” Kate said. “Most places do three years in the classroom and one year of clinics. At MSU, you get a lot more hands-on experience.”

After graduation, the Schraeder “Dream Team” will be split up, which the sisters said will be a bittersweet experience. Among their favorite MSU memories are seeing the football team rise to No. 1 in the nation in 2014 and enjoying Starkville’s restaurant scene.

“We’re splitting up the ‘Dream Team,’ but we’ll be back,” Sarah said. “We both want to eventually be back near Hattiesburg. A lot of our family is there. I think it would be a cool thing if Kate and I get to work together one day.”

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