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Animal lover found the veterinary career he wanted minus the student debt

Dylan Wilson considered a career in meteorology and then firefighting before he settled on veterinary medicine.

The Kempsville High School graduate was on track after graduating from Old Dominion University with a bachelor’s in biology. After working at Midway Veterinary Hospital, two realities became clear.

  • Vet school carries a huge price tag. On average, graduates repay what can be more than $200,000 in debt over 20-25 years.
  • He didn’t want to incur that kind of expense.

So Wilson explored another direction that turned out to be a better fit — training to be a  licensed veterinary technician.

“Vet techs are the people who do the work,” he said. “That’s hands-on — the part of the job that really appealed to me.”

Even better — he could go to school in his own backyard. Tidewater Community College launched its veterinary technology associate degree two years ago — only the third program in the Commonwealth and the lone one in Hampton Roads.

Wilson will complete all requirements for the 63-credit Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology this month. He will sit for the national exam in December.

“I have absolutely loved the passion from the teachers at TCC,” said the ferret lover who owns a 10-year-old Dalmatian, Harley.  “It has not always been my experience that teachers really care about my success and will do anything to ensure my success. I have zero doubt that this is true about the professors at TCC.”

Dylan and his dog, Harley

The TCC veterinary technology program, under the direction of Megan Taliaferro, included on-site labs this summer, working with sheep, cows and exotics. That’s how Wilson discovered an affinity for dentistry.

“As a tech, performing dentistry and taking radiographs is challenging, but I’ve found I really enjoy pharmacology,” he said. “It speaks to the biology person in me.”

TCC will graduate 20 from its inaugural cohort of veterinary technology students. Graduates are prepared to work in a multitude of settings, including animal and equine practices; biomedical research facilities; pharmaceutical companies; zoos; and specialty and emergency practices.

“It’s not like any kind of school I’ve ever done before,” Wilson said. “Everything you learn early on will be important later. It really builds on each other, and all of it is very important. You really learn it and keep building rather than learning to just pump it out.”

Interested in TCC’s veterinary assistant career studies certificate or its veterinary technology program? Contact Taliaferro at for admission requirements.

TCC’s Veterinary Technology program earns initial accreditation

Tidewater Community College’s Veterinary Technology program has earned initial accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

This is the first new accreditation of an associate degree program in the state of Virginia since 1980. Initial accreditation gives the TCC program all the benefits of full accreditation.

TCC launched its veterinary technology program, which allows students to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology, in fall 2018. The inaugural cohort will complete all program requirements by August.

The TCC program is one of three in the state and the only one in Hampton Roads. Students receive hands-on training with all species in addition to classroom instruction on the Virginia Beach Campus.

“This is a milestone for our program,” said program head Megan Taliaferro. “By achieving accreditation, our students and the veterinary practices that will ultimately employ them know that the TCC program meets the highest standards in veterinary education.”

The need for veterinary technicians is anticipated to grow by 60 percent in TCC’s service region in the next decade, according to EMSI, an economic indicator for higher education.

Veterinary technicians assist veterinarians in diagnosing and treating animals. Their duties include working with veterinarians during examinations and surgeries, conducting routine procedures, such as immunizations and dental cleanings, and educating pet owners about the health care of animals.

Graduates are prepared for employment in a multitude of settings, ranging from animal, equine and food animal practices; biomedical research facilities; pharmaceutical companies; zoos; and specialty and emergency practices.

The program is geared toward those with some experience in the veterinary field. Those who haven’t worked in a professional setting can gain experience by completing TCC’s 17-credit Career Studies Certificate in Veterinary Assistant.

Visit for admission requirements and an application. The application deadline for the cohort that will begin this fall has been extended to June 15.

Contact Taliaferro for more information at or 757-822-7264.

TCC’s Veterinary Technology program gets a hand from the Chesapeake Humane Society

A new partnership between Tidewater Community College and the Chesapeake Humane Society will benefit students in the college’s Veterinary Technology program.

TCC’s Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology, under the direction of Megan Taliaferro, is the only veterinary technology program in Hampton Roads and one of three in the state.

Chesapeake Humane Society will allow TCC veterinary technology students to complete hands-on training with faculty supervision at its facility located in the Great Bridge section of the city at 312. N. Battlefield Blvd. TCC faculty and students will have access to all equipment and shelter animals at Chesapeake Humane Society, which houses cats available for adoption.

“We are so appreciative of Chesapeake Humane Society for partnering with TCC to better prepare our students for careers as veterinary technicians,” said Greg Frank, dean of Natural Sciences at TCC.

TCC started its veterinary technology program in Fall Semester 2018. The 63-credit associate can be completed in four semesters and two summer sessions. Classes meet in the evening, twice weekly, on the Virginia Beach Campus. The program is designed for working veterinary assistants. TCC also offers a veterinary assistant program.

Visit for admission requirements and an application. All applications for the fall semester for both veterinary programs are due on April 30. Contact Taliaferro for more information at or 757-822-7264.