Liza McCarthy has been preparing for her future career her whole life


Liza McCarthy

Liza McCarthy, a talented writer and future Hope College student, posing for her senior photos.

Growing up, senior Liza McCarthy’s little brother never had to be worried about being asked to fake an ailment. Her stuffed animals, however, were not so lucky.

“Instead of setting up doctor’s offices in my house, or whatever, as I would play house, I always set up my [veterinary] clinic system,” Liza said. “So instead of having human patients like my brother, I would just use stuffed animals and play around with that kind of thing.”

Playing vet while younger was foreshadowing for Liza’s later life. 

With such lasting dreams of being a veterinarian, one might expect that Liza grew up with animals always around her. That could not be more wrong. 

I do know that whatever I end up in, I want to be excited to come to work every day.

“I have always loved animals as long as I can remember, pretty much since I knew what a dog was, I’ve wanted one as a pet,” Liza said. “But it took me twelve years to convince my parents to get a dog. My mom started going on this website of a breeder that sold these really cute Honey Bears—that’s what my dog’s called. That was just for fun. Then, my family and I took a trip to Holland for a fun stay over at a hotel. At dinner, [my parents] were like, ‘Do you guys want us to look at the puppies?’ I think I almost passed out because I was so excited. Once they say that, there’s no going back. We went and saw some puppies that the breeder had. We didn’t get that exact puppy. Eventually, my dog was born, and we got to take him home. His name is Oliver. Technically, even though his breed is called a Honey Bear, he’s a Bichon-Maltese.”

Despite not having any pets for such a long period of her life, Liza feels more than prepared for her future career. 

In addition to learning more about veterinary sciences through having her dog, Liza has also been actively involved in classes in high school to prepare her.

“I took an online class the first semester of my senior year,” Liza said. “It was all the basics about veterinary science and all the different categories of animals and learning about their diseases and how veterinarians are aiming to help them right now. I feel like it gave a really good overview of what I would be learning about in biology and pre-vet. I also took human anatomy. That was probably my favorite class I took in high school, just because it was so interesting to me. We got to dissect a cat. Not all parts of that were super pleasant. But it did really help me get a deeper view of the inner workings of an animal. If I were to perform surgeries on animals, eventually, that’s a really cool sneak peek of what I could be doing and a really hands-on view of all the different systems of an animal for educational purposes.”

The cat dissection that Liza took part in is an infamous aspect of the human anatomy class. While she was excited to take part in it, she also knew it would be a key point for determining whether she could handle the career she’s always been hoping to pursue.

“I was kind of apprehensive going into the cat dissection,” Liza said, “especially, because I knew it would be a make or break moment in terms of what my future could look like. [In the future], I’d have to help by performing surgeries and stuff. I knew that if I could handle a cat dissection, it would give me hope that I could handle some of the things that would come up in my career. In freshman year biology, we dissected other various animals. I got to dissect a crayfish and a pigeon, which didn’t give as many in-depth details as the cat dissection, obviously. I still really enjoyed them because, once again, they just gave me a closer look into an animal and I got to see how the systems of animals work.”

Experiences like these show Liza that she is ready for college and life beyond. 

Because of her decisions in high school and her dreams from elementary school, her hope has never faltered for her future.

“In the fall, I will be going to Hope College for a degree in biology that will eventually take me on a pre-vet track,” Liza said. “I’ll major in pre-vet [and] biology, I hope. Then once I graduate, I’ll probably either go to Michigan State or Purdue to go to vet school, and I’m excited for that. I know it’s a lot of schooling. But overall, I actually don’t really mind the school, especially because I’ll be excited to go to school for the things I love—not just things that I need to have credit for—and so that I can actually work towards something I want to do as a career. I don’t know if I’ll go entirely to being a veterinary doctor, but I might stop at a vet tech or whatever fits my lifestyle. But I do know that whatever I end up in, I want to be excited to come to work every day.”