Guinea pig started veterinary student’s journey, generous donors continue it
December 4, 2023
Thanks to a guinea pig, Noah Goldfarb '23 has known since around age 12 that he wanted to be an exotic animal veterinarian. But, between formal education, internships, residencies, and early career positions in that specialty, it can take almost 12 years to get established – and many more to pay off loans.
“In order to become a veterinarian, we have to do eight years of schooling, and many students already are battling with the loans they've taken out for those first four years of undergrad,” Goldfarb said. “They've accrued from that period, and then another four years of school on top of that. It’s really difficult for me, and a lot of my peers as well.”
Goldfarb, from Fairfax, Virginia, and on track to receive his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree in 2026, was awarded a scholarship to the veterinary college from the Herman and Mildred Corder Fund, and previously received the John Lee Pratt Merit Scholarship and the William H. Wheeler Scholarship for his undergraduate animal science studies in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech.
A guinea pig led Goldfarb down the educational road he is traveling, but generous donors are helping him continue his journey.
“I had a pet guinea pig when I was 12, and she got sick,” Goldfarb said. “Our town had one of the biggest exotic animal hospitals in the country. We brought her there and I thought it was fascinating what the veterinarians did. So, I decided that I wanted to be an exotic pet vet at age 12. And I just stuck with the same career path and same focus in veterinary medicine for the last 11 years since then.”
Goldfarb notes that veterinary medicine as a whole “is already not particularly lucrative compared to other fields that require eight years of schooling and a doctorate degree.” Focusing on exotic pet care can make it even less lucrative, at least at first.
“The scholarships are really instrumental in helping us get our DVMs and then it also gives us a bit of flexibility as well,” Goldfarb said. “The less financially burdened you are, the more flexibility you have to explore an alternate career route that may not be as lucrative initially. I'm interested in exotic pet medicine, so I'm most likely going to apply for internships after school. And my expected salary is probably going to be much less than my counterparts who are going into small animal general practice. So, the scholarships really do give us a layer of flexibility that might not have been there.”