Astronaut or veterinarian: Lander student chooses animal care
April 04, 2008
Lander University senior Linlei Ward said when she was in high school and looking ahead to a career, it was a toss-up between becoming an astronaut or a veterinarian. She chose veterinarian because she said, "I have loved animals since I was little."
The biology major from Kingstree has moved a big step closer to her career goal with her acceptance into the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.
Ward, who is scheduled to graduate in May, said she plans to specialize in the treatment of horses, cattle and other large animals and maybe some day open her own practice. "It is an open field that offers more diversity than caring for small animals like dogs and cats," she said.
Ward came to Lander after graduating from Williamsburg Academy in Kingstree where she was a student-athlete and played basketball, softball and volleyball. She was on the women's basketball team for her first two years at Lander but was forced to quit after suffering a knee injury. But it did not end her athletic career. After her knee healed, she played women's rugby, which is a club sport at Lander and she played for two years.
Her rugby coach is Dr. T.D. Maze, an assistant professor of biology and Ward's research mentor. For two years, Ward and Maze collaborated did research on hormones that regulate puberty. The research was the basis of presentation she made to the South Carolina Academy of Science and which Maze presented to an experimental biology conference in San Diego.
Maze said Ward would graduate with honors from the biology program because of her experience with the research project.
Ward was the first president of the Psi Theta chapter of Beta Beta Beta, the national biological honor society that was formed at Lander in 2006. She now serves as its vice president. She said her involvement with the group has given her the opportunity to meet with biology students from other colleges and universities and learn about projects they are working on.
Her academic achievements have earned her membership in the Blue Key National Honor Society and the Alpha Chi honor society. She is also a resident assistant and a Presidential Ambassador.
For three years, she has worked parttime as a kennel assistant and clerical specialist at Camp Chinquapin for Critters in Greenwood. She said, "My job has given me insights into the animal care field."
Looking back over her four years at Lander, she said the school is small enough that people know each other. "The faculty and staff are very helpful. They made me feel like I was part of a family." She said she decided to enroll at Lander the moment she walked on the campus. "I fell in love with the school."
Her parents are Toni and J.W. Ward. She said they found out first that she had been accepted at the Georgia school and called to give her the good news. It was the only veterinary school she had applied to.
Ward is one of two children in her family. Her brother, Curtis, is scheduled to enter The Citadel as a freshman next fall.
The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine was established in 1946. It has an average enrollment of nearly 400 students; 73 percent of them are women and 17 percent come from South Carolina.
Lander president Daniel Ball described Ward's acceptance into the veterinary program as wonderful news. He added, "What a marvelous student and Lander advocate Linlei has been. She and the faculty can take great pride in her accomplishments."