A Major Switch: From Film to Biology

Biology student Julia Carlin won one of the most prestigious, national awards for pre-veterinary students, the 2018 American Pre-Vet Medical Association (APVMA) Scholarship. The award was open to all pre-vet students in the country, and Carlin was chosen based on her academic success, leadership qualities and participation within the pre-vet community.

“I have worked endlessly hard, harder than I ever thought I was capable of, for the past three years,” she said. “This scholarship honestly means the world to me.”

Carlin was awarded the scholarship by the APVMA at the 2018 National Symposium, and will be featured on their website.

“Being recognized on a national level by the professional field I am entering is surreal,” she said. “There is no better feeling than to know all my hard work and dedication is amounting to something.”

This is not the first time the science world has recognized her abilities. She, along with her team, also won ‘Outstanding Student Presentation’ at the 2018 Indian River Lagoon Research Conference for their research project investigating the effect of seagrass on mangrove populations.

Aside from participating in independent research, she also tutors organic chemistry 1 and 2 to pre-vet students, serves as the president of UCF’s Pre-Veterinary Society and is the research director for Green Greeks, a student-run organization which helps to increase food security on campus. The group plants organic, sustainable gardens behind Greek houses and then donates the food grown to the Knights Helping Knights pantry.

“I think the community here at UCF is like no other,” she said. “Attending such a large university has allowed me to have diverse involvements including research, Greek life and pre-professional clubs. Connecting with other students as been a huge help to get where I am today.”

On top of all this, Carlin has also maintained a 4.0 GPA in her classes.

“My biggest advice for students is to find a way to fall in love with the work you do,” she said. “This mentality has enabled me to make the necessary sacrifices and still be passionate about my field of work.”

Three years ago, though, Carlin entered UCF with a different goal: film. After winning some awards at film festivals during high school, and even achieving a film-related scholarship, she hoped to study film while here. But within her first semester, she knew she wanted something different.

“I wanted my time at UCF to be filled with as much personal and intellectual growth as possible, and I felt that could not happen on my current track,” she said. “I decided to pursue what I thought I disliked the most, a biology degree, and I have never been more grateful for a decision as I am of that one.”

Switching from film to biology may seem like a drastic change, but Carlin tackled it as she would any new experience in her life. She dove in head-first, ready to experience any and every opportunity available to her.

“I want to ensure that I worked as hard as I could for everything and I experienced all the world has to offer,” she said. “By the end of my first semester, I fell madly in love with the sciences, learning, challenging myself and with understanding the world around me in an entirely new perspective.”

Once she became a biology major, Carlin quickly immersed herself in the program. She found internship work alongside veterinarians in the field, helping them administer enucleation, acupunctures, spays and neutering procedures. She even participated in an internship at the Central Florida Zoo and worked with giraffes. The more she experienced, the more she knew pursuing veterinary studies was the right path for her.

“I loved how compassionate this field is,” she said. “I love how it constantly makes me question my intellect. These animals can’t speak to you, and yet somehow you have to look at a furry, 10-pound being that seems perfectly normal on the outside and deduce the reason why it hasn’t eaten for a few days. It constantly keeps me compassionate, humble, on my toes and learning every single day.”

Carlin intends to graduate in spring 2019 and plans to attend veterinary school in the fall, specializing in radiology. Afterward, she wants to continue research and hopefully contribute to the scientific field.


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