Student Spotlight: Aspiring equine surgeon George Elane doubles as Graduate Life Center Fellow

George Elane with a horse

George Elane is a vet student at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine and aspires to become an equine surgeon. He also serves as a GLC Fellow by planning events for GLC residents and fellow graduate students. Prior to his time in Blacksburg, George earned a B.S. in Biomedical Science from Auburn University in 2012. When not engrossed in his veterinary studies, he enjoys hiking, travel, playing piano, reading, spending time with friends and family, and watching Doctor Who.

How would you describe your area of study to your grandmother?
I would tell her that I get to work with some of the cleverest people I know, that my brain is stretched to its limits every day, that even in the field of medicine there is room for creativity, and that she really ought to buy herself a horse.

What is your primary motivation for persevering through graduate school?
I once went out on a call with a vet at 3am to see a mare who was having trouble giving birth to a foal. Without going into gritty details, there was a complication, but we worked quickly and were able to save both the mare and the foal, to the delight of the clients. It turned out it was the daughter's horse, and she sent a very sweet poster with pictures of her and her horse in thanks to the veterinarian. So that is my motivation - that one day, I will be out of the classroom, working hard and getting dirty at 3 in the morning and at the end of it all, I'll be able to make a difference. That, and hearing "Dr. Elane" doesn't sound all that bad.

Do you think there is any value in social networking with other graduate students in non-related fields?
Absolutely. No man is an island, and the same goes for disciplines within graduate school. I have made friends in architecture, business, marketing and public health, all of whom I hope to keep in contact, not only for their extensive knowledge in each of their fields, but for the camaraderie we shared at Virginia Tech.

If you were able to merge another discipline with yours, what would it be?
Business and/or Marketing. The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine offers many resources centered around being a productive and valuable veterinarian, including business tips and marketing strategies for use after graduation. Having been exposed to such useful and interesting subject material, I often find myself hungry for more knowledge on how to increase my value as a productive veterinarian and surgeon, and how to make hospitals and clinics I work for more profitable.

What is the last book you read strictly for pleasure and how long ago was it?
I read all of the Game of Thrones books (from the series A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin) last summer in the space of about three weeks and they were absolutely enthralling.

Please describe your most meaningful academic relationship.
My most meaningful academic relationship thus far has been with my equine track advisor in the vet school, Dr. Julie Settlage. She is an equine surgeon and has been an invaluable resource to me, answering all of my (many) questions and giving me the best advice. I certainly wouldn't be on the career path I'm on now if not for her.

What are your aspirations upon graduation?
In order to become a board-certified equine surgeon, I will have to complete a one-year internship and a three-year residency program accredited by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, after which I hope to work in a referral equine hospital.

What do you feel is the greatest challenge that graduate students face and how have you dealt with this challenge?
The greatest challenge I hear from my residents and graduate students in general is how isolated we are as a population. We often transition from a large undergraduate class to a field of one or two, which often requires a lot of work in labs, classrooms and libraries. Serving as a GLC Fellow has allowed me to overcome this challenge by meeting people outside of my discipline through the events the Graduate School sponsors.

If travel to Mars happens in your lifetime, would you want to be one of the scientists on board? If yes, what would you contribute to the mission?
Most definitely! Who wouldn't want to be on the forefront of human expansion, pushing our limits and boundaries? Unfortunately though, unless they discover a new species of horse on Mars, I don't know how much I could contribute!

What is your favorite comfort food and why? How often do you consume it?
Hokie Planks, from West End! I typically eat them at least once a week, usually on Fridays to celebrate the start of the weekend.