Monica Steffen '18 Headshot

Undergraduate Program

Monica Steffen '18

Pre-Veterinarian

Biology, Biochemistry

Creating Confidence

Inspired by her childhood memories on the farm, Mount Mercy gave Monica Steffen '18 the confidence and skills needed to attend graduate school and pursue her dream of becoming a mixed animal veterinarian. 

MMU: What made you want to be a veterinarian? Is there a particular category of animals you want to work with, e.g. large animals, small animals? How did you know that this was the right path for you?

MS: I grew up on my family’s dairy farm, so I was constantly surrounded by animals. My fondest memories were of those working with the animals on our farm. I also had great veterinarians as role models who would come to the farm for emergencies or monthly herd health checks. These individuals always took time to answer any questions I may have had. I also had many opportunities to shadow veterinarians. I shadowed large animal producers that worked mostly on beef and dairy operations, to small animal veterinarians where they worked on anything from a bearded dragon to a great dane. Seeing these different individuals work on a variety of species had me sold. I loved how every day could be different. I could see how to make a difference in that part of the world.

Seeing these different individuals work on a variety of species had me sold. I loved how every day could be different. I could see how to make a difference in that part of the world.

Monica Steffen '18
Biology, Biochemistry, Pre-Veterinary

I would like to work with both large and small animals, and I am currently on a mixed animal track at Iowa State University. I wanted to go with the mixed animal track because I truly do enjoy working with many different animals. This also keeps my options open, not only when finding a job, but my day to day career.

In the back of my head I always thought I wanted to be a veterinarian, but this didn’t really set in until I shadowed the people in the profession along with many long talks with my advisors at Mount Mercy. I knew what I thought it was like from the client perspective, but never from the viewpoint of being the actual doctor. That’s when shadowing really came into play. I knew it was for me when the veterinarians would not only treat the patient, but would also be helping out the owner. Veterinarians are so much more than the people you meet with once a year for your pet’s physical and vaccinations. They are the ones on the front line of food safety, preventing foreign animal diseases from entering the U.S., and they have huge impacts on public health. When I was able to witness this from the doctor’s point of view, I knew I wanted to be involved.

They are the ones on the front line of food safety, preventing foreign animal diseases from entering the U.S., and they have huge impacts on public health.

Monica Steffen '18
Biology, Biochemistry, Pre-Veterinary

MMU: What drew you to Mount Mercy’s pre-veterinary track? How did the biology and biochemistry programs help prepare you for graduate school?

"The professors at Mount Mercy were there to challenge me, to make me ask the tough questions, and most importantly, to help me."

MS: The biology and chemistry programs challenged me in a way that I was never challenged before and that is why I am still currently successful as a veterinary student now. The courses teach you not only the basics, but challenge you to use critical thinking, application of knowledge, and increase your problem-solving skills. This is what any undergraduate program needs to prepare students for veterinary school (or any professional program). The professors at Mount Mercy were there to challenge me, to make me ask the tough questions, and most importantly, to help me. They were the ones who deserve most of the credit as to where I am now. They helped me get to where I am today, and they were the ones who prepared me for veterinary school.

MMU: What are some challenges you’ve faced in your academic career? How did you overcome them?

MS: One challenge that I am constantly having to overcome is the feeling that I am not good enough. I am sort of a perfectionist, so this thought process is not very healthy. At Mount Mercy I had many conversations with the counselors, advisors, and professors about this and they all helped me walk through that I am good enough to deserve the things I have in life. I walk through the steps that I have taken to get to where I am and re-enforce the work that I have put in, the time and the effort. I look back at past events and take note of the successes I have had and re-enforce that I am good enough, and I am worthy of the place that I have gotten to.

I have also faced struggles with anxiety. Ever since I can remember, if I didn’t understand a concept the first time, I would get frustrated and anxious. This really came out during my time at Mount Mercy because classes were not as easy as they were in high school. When these types of emotions like frustration or anxiety would creep up, I would go to my professors and ask a ton of questions about the topics I didn’t understand.

I look back at past events and take note of the successes I have had and re-enforce that I am good enough, and I am worthy of the place that I have gotten to.

Monica Steffen '18
Biology, Biochemistry, Pre-Veterinary
  1. MMU: What organizations or clubs were you a part of at Mount Mercy? How did they impact you or your college experience?

MS: I was involved in quite a few organizations on campus. I was involved in Science Club, Chemmusical, Campus Ministry, Mount Mercy Activities Programing Board (M2AP Board), Band, and Orientation (as an orientation leader). I was also a tutor in ACE, a Peer Minister, and a work-study student in the biology department. All of these activities help me meet new people and truly become a part of the Mount Mercy campus. These organizations really helped me figure out who I was, and who I wanted to be. A lot of these organizations helped me get out of my shell and out of my comfort zone. These organizations helped me become a better leader and a better communicator, and honestly made my college experience a blast.

MMU: What are your plans after you graduate from veterinarian school? Is there a particular geographical area you want to work in?

MS: My plans after graduation are still a work in progress, but I would like to practice in Eastern Iowa where I am originally from. There is still a need for mixed animal veterinarians in that area due to a high agricultural presence.

MMU: How have you seen yourself grow from your freshman year at MMU to your last year in grad school?

MS: I have grown much more confident. Not only as a student, but also as a person. There are obviously times when I don’t think I deserve to be where I am, or that I have no idea what I am doing, but I have better coping mechanisms and people to turn to. I have learned that it is okay to not know everything, and that if you try your best that is all you can do. I have also learned to reach out to people for help. This goes for school related things or not, but reaching out to people to talk to has definitely helped me with my school anxiety and has helped me grow as a person, to know that I don’t have to walk through this journey alone and worried all the time.

I have learned that it is okay to not know everything, and that if you try your best that is all you can do. I have also learned to reach out to people for help.

Monica Steffen '18
Biology, Biochemistry, Pre-Veterinary

MMU: What is one piece of advice you would give to incoming students? Why?

MS: My one piece of advice for incoming students would be that it is okay not to have everything figured out right away. My plans were not originally heading for veterinary school, but with the help of my family, friends, professors, and advisors at Mount Mercy, I was able to see the right career path for me.

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