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“I love working with all of the clients and animals. It really is the best job”

Jane Gray at work as a assistant vet technician in Chesapeake

Jane Gray has had plenty of jobs from managing a Wendy’s to working as a dog groomer.

Today, thanks to Tidewater Community College’s Veterinary Technology program, she has a career she enjoys.

“This is where I belong,” said Gray. “I tried a distance learning vet tech program, and it didn’t work for me, but I knew I was drawn to this work.”

TCC’s Vet Tech program launched in 2018 and is the only program of its kind in Hampton Roads.

Gray is in the second cohort, which started in fall of 2019. She will graduate with an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology this summer.

“One of the best things about the program is that we are all in this together,” said Gray of her classmates. “We are all on a group text and we lean on each other often.”

Gray recently received a scholarship from the Virginia Association of Licensed Veterinary Technicians. She is the only student in Virginia who earned this award for 2021.

Gray is already at work in the field as a supervised assistant vet tech at a Chesapeake animal hospital.

“The work I do now I can only do because of my degree program,” Gray said.

Gray started as a receptionist and is now in the back using the skills she is learning in school on the job. She does everything from assessing animals to monitoring anesthesia to placing catheters to administering drugs and IV fluids.

An animal enthusiast, Gray found her passion for the field when her own dog got sick. “My dog Socks had heartworms and I almost lost her. A year later she got a serious infection, and it was scary. It was then that I decided I wanted to be there for other families to help educate them on conditions and treatments.”

“Our pets can’t talk, so it’s important that families are fully involved in their care,” Gray added. “I love working with all of the clients and animals. It really is the best job.”

Gray’s journey to an associate degree has been challenging due to a learning disability that affects her reading comprehension. “When we went online because of the pandemic, it was really tough for me,” Gray explained. “But my instructors and classmates rallied around me and were there whenever I had questions. The college also offered some accommodations that were really helpful.”

When Gray is not at school or work, she is still surrounded by animals on her five-acre farm in Chesapeake. She and her two children care for seven horses, a donkey, some chickens, two pot-bellied pigs, a hog and five dogs.

Gray with her horse Tucker at the farm in Chesapeake.

Gray says she learned a lot from her favorite TCC instructor Megan Taliaferro who is the program head, a licensed veterinarian, and an avid horse enthusiast.

“We both love horses and talk about them often. What could be better than that!”