(11/17/22) BATON ROUGE, La. — Kristen Head’s love for animals is exceeded only by her drive to succeed. Now a second-year student in the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, she saw an opportunity to reach her dreams one year early through the 3+1 program and took it.
The 3+1 program in pre-veterinary medicine was created to allow College of Agriculture students in certain majors to apply to the vet school one year early and earn a bachelor’s degree and doctorate in veterinary medicine in seven years instead of eight.
Growing up in League City, Texas, Head said she found the transition to LSU and the College of Ag intimidating. But she soon found a way to make her experience unique.
“Truthfully, at the beginning I hated being away from my family,” she said. “LSU is a huge school, but once I settled in, the College of Ag made it feel much smaller. I was able to work as a peer mentor and Tiger Tutor and found my community.”
The College of Ag alumna said majoring in animal sciences with a pre-veterinary medicine concentration as an undergrad was perfect for her because she has always had a passion for being around animals. It started with dogs and cats when she was younger and expanded when she began raising goats, steers, chickens and rabbits in high school through FFA.
“Since then, I realized I wanted to work with large animals,” she said. “I’m currently trying to decide between a food animal health or equine health degree. It’ll definitely be one of those two.”
For animal sciences majors like Head, the 3+1 program offers the opportunity to reach their goals earlier through accelerated study.
“In addition to allowing students to advance to their chosen profession sooner, the 3+1 program reduces overall educational costs,” said Allen Rutherford, executive associate dean of the College of Ag. “This program is designed for outstanding students like Ms. Head.”
Allie Prest, assistant dean at the College of Ag, said the 3+1 program is a unique opportunity for highly qualified students to expedite their path to the School of Veterinary Medicine. Her experience working with the students has shown that successful 3+1 students excel academically, go above and beyond in seeking out extracurricular activities and have a true passion for their chosen career paths.
“We are proud to offer these two paths in partnership with the vet school for students to combine their undergraduate and post-graduate experience in both the domestic animal and wildlife areas,” she said.
In the past five years, the College of Ag has graduated 52 3+1 students who have gone on to the LSU vet school.
Dr. Bonnie Boudreaux, the vet school’s associate dean for student success and professor of veterinary medical oncology, echoed Prest’s sentiments and said the ease of financial pressure on students is a major benefit of the program.
“It helps students minimize the added financial burden that often accompanies advanced degrees by eliminating one year of undergraduate tuition payments,” she said.
For her part, Head said the 3+1 program has given her the opportunity to get a jump on her future and has saved her money in the process. She admits that, while the accelerated pace is no easy task, the end results justify the extra work.
“The 3+1 program is really amazing,” she said. “It may be a little harder, but the fact that it’s faster and saves an entire year of tuition makes it well worth it.”
College of Agriculture animal sciences alumna Kristen Head is in her second year at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. She took advantage of the vet school’s 3+1 program, which allows students in certain majors to apply to earn a bachelor’s degree and doctorate in veterinary medicine in seven years instead of eight. Photo by Anabelle Lang/LSU College of Agriculture
Second-year LSU School of Veterinary Medicine student and College of Agriculture animal sciences alumna Kristen Head, shown here speaking with vet school professor of food animal health maintenance Matt Welborn, has yet to decide if she wants to pursue a food animal health maintenance or equine health studies degree. She is going through the vet school’s 3+1 program, which allows students in certain majors to apply to earn a bachelor’s degree and Doctorate in Veterinary medicine in seven years, instead of eight. Photo by V. Todd Miller/LSU AgCenter