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Biology Major, Class of 2010
Taking care of animals was something that always appealed to Leah (Christ) Trout. Growing up on her parents’ farm the menagerie that surrounded her included goats, cats, cows, pigs, and sheep. She enjoyed caring for all of them. Trout particularly remembers a set of kittens on the farm. They had an eye infection, so
Trout would diligently medicate and wipe their infected eyes. She knew her attentiveness was helping the kittens get better. Watching the kittens get well solidified that she wanted to make her life’s work helping animals. She decided the best way for her to do that was to
become a veterinarian.
Trout didn’t know where she wanted to attend college to turn her dream into reality, but she did know she wanted to stay close to home. Similarly important to her was attending a college where she’d be familiar with the professors. After looking at some schools and reading about Saint Francis, she decided to meet with the university’s faculty.
“I knew Saint Francis was a smaller university, like I wanted to attend. So I decided to find out its success rate in sending students to post-graduate schools. Saint Francis has a great record and definitely convinced me that, with hard work, I could get into veterinary school,” remarked Trout.
Commuting from her hometown in Johnstown, Trout immersed herself in her studies. She majored in biology with a pre-veterinarian concentration. In her free time she served as secretary of the biology club and completed research with the biology department. Trout says the research gave her confidence and a competitive edge when it was time to apply to veterinarian school.
“We completed research [at Saint Francis] and presented it at Duquesne [University]. Doing research is unique and is not something that many students from other colleges get to do. Presenting those findings was also uncommon. It looked great on my resume and helped with my interviews for veterinarian school,” said Trout.
Professors were truly interested in making sure that Trout succeeded in her quest toward becoming a veterinarian. Trout commented, “People at Saint Francis really cared about how I was doing. They would ask how the application process to veterinary school was going, if I needed letters of recommendation, etc. I felt supported there.”
Research was not the only way Saint Francis prepared Trout for her future career. “The strong science department and my background in biology from Saint Francis were essential,” shared Trout. She added, “The core Catholic values have benefited me in my field. When you deal with people who are going through hardships—such as sick pets—it helps that you have religion on your side. It guides and supports you when talking with and comforting people.”
Trout completed her undergraduate degree at Saint Francis in only three years and was accepted to Ohio State University for veterinarian school. She graduated from Ohio State in 2014, and since then has worked as a veterinarian in an animal clinic in her hometown.
Like the university’s namesake, St. Francis, Trout loves that her work allows her to care for God’s creatures. Her job truly makes a difference in the lives of animals and people. “I love to see an animal I helped and made right again. It’s the best feeling when I can send a pet home at the end of a day, with an owner who is happy to have his pet in his arms. It’s great to do that—to know the pet is doing well and to have your work be appreciated,” said Trout.
My favorite memory is from the science department’s summer research program. My research partner and I were tasked with going to the Tytoona Cave. It was my first time in a cave, and we obtained samples of potential bacterial populations living there so we could sequence their DNA. It was an awesome experience to be in a place created by nature, in utter darkness, with the sound of water rushing around you. Part of what made this memory fun was that the easygoing Dr. Trimble was there, whistling in the eerie darkness of the cave, making sure we navigated through it without any complications.
This is a tough question because many professors positively impacted me. Dr. Trimble was important in helping me to think outside of the box, in my summer research and in his courses. Dr. Marian Langer was one of the most influential professors because she had many challenging courses that pushed you to your limits. She was always there to make sure you were on the right path. She was also someone who would help give advice about decisions for your future career. Dr. Timothy Bintrim was another favorite. Although English/literature/writing are not my preferred courses, he showed me that you can enjoy these subjects and even find stories within yourself to write about.
Veterinary school was filled with many hours spent in labs studying the anatomy of different animals, hours of lecture, and double the amount of hours spent studying at home. The science program at Saint Francis challenged me and prepared me for that world. Saint Francis offered the base knowledge that gave me the fundamentals for the courses I took during vet school; such as the anatomy labs where I dissected a cat, cell biology courses, and development biology courses. Saint Francis also made it easy to streamline my schedule so that I was able to graduate in three years instead of four. Thus, I was able to start living my dream even earlier.
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