The College of Arts and Sciences celebrates National Vet Tech Week

BOONE, N.C. — Housed in the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Rural Resilience and Innovation, Appalachian State's Veterinary Technology program supports a growing need for skilled veterinary specialists in rural communities and advances industry standards by contributing to a more sustainable future for the veterinary profession. As we celebrate hardworking veterinary professionals during National Veterinary Technician Week (October 16-22, 2022), meet 14 students in Appalachian State's first Veterinary Technology cohort:


Justin Blanton | Wilmington, NC
Blanton, located in Wilmington, NC, chose App State's veterinary technology program "for a number of reasons, but number one being how transparent the program and its instructors and directors are. From the start, they’ve been very communicative about the program's content and its future plans. They really care about the students and their success!" Blanton owns two dogs, a German Shepherd mix named Zoey and a Dachshund mix named Beanie, and two cats, Percy and Hades. Additionally, he's fostering a kitten. Pursuing a career in zoological veterinary medicine or wildlife rehabilitation, Blanton says his favorite part of the program so far is "learning the ins and outs of the industry and what it has to offer. This part has made me realize just how many opportunities this program could lead to."


Jennah Bosch | Wilmington, NC
Also located in Wilmington, Bosch chose App State's veterinary technology program after learning about the interesting courses from the program's director, Dr. Virginia Corrigan. Bosch owns seven animals: one Pitbull named Kion; four cats named Jake from State Farm, Peppermint Sparkles, Ed Purrin and Lunar Eclipse; and two Roborovski hamsters named Dash O'Pepper and Robo D. Mouse. When asked about her favorite part of the program, Bosch explained, "I really enjoy training new hires and students about externships. It makes me hopeful for the future of our profession. I am very proud of my non-profit work within the animal community." After graduation, Bosch hopes to use her degree to teach in a university setting.


Abbegayle Bourne | Piney Creek, NC
Bourne, located in Piney Creek, NC, owns many animals, including horses, pigs, goats, cattle and dogs. She chose App State's veterinary technology program to further her career before veterinary school. "I have always loved animals and being able to help them will mean the world to me! I have worked with animals my whole life and have been working as a technician/assistant for a year now." Bourne explained. So far, Bourne's favorite part of the program has been learning about the diverse components of veterinary medicine.


Maggs Cerow | Mount Airy, NC
Located in Mount Airy, NC, Cerow chose App State's veterinary technology program because she always wanted to work with animals. "After 25 years of doing other things, it is good to be going after my career of choice. I especially like the four-year program and the better opportunities it may bring me, especially since this is a later-in-life change," she explained. Cerow owns three cats, a rabbit, many fish, six chickens, three ducks and even a groundhog. Exploring careers in exotic animals, zoology, and necropsy, Cerow is excited to embark on a new path. "Life is meant to be lived and actively pursuing my dreams is how I am choosing to go forth!" Interestingly, Cerow began her degree at App State at the same time as her daughter, a first-year student. "It is a joy to share the experience with her," said Cerow.


Jennifer Ennis | Morrisville, NC
Ennis chose App State's veterinary technology program because of its online structure, which allows her to remain at home in Morrisville, NC. So far, Ennis is enjoying the team-based learning in the program. "Being online, it’s hard to have communication with other students, so having groups that you work with in and outside of class time is a really good way to meet new friends! I absolutely love both of my class groups...I love how we work together." Still exploring career options, Ennis also enjoys the observation hours, which allow her to "go out and see the inner workings of clinics, and, of course, I get to see plenty of cats and dogs!" Ennis owns one dog, a Chiweenie mix named Calli, who was adopted from one of Ennis' favorite animal rescue organizations, Saving Grace.


Alena Gage | Durham, NC
A fellow dog lover, Gage also owns a dog, a Labradoodle named Kobi. "He’s been with me through tough times and comforts me on my hardest days. He brings me endless joy and smiles with his floppy ears and goofy upside-down sleeping positions," Gage said. An alumna of the Appalachian State Department of Biology, Gage is excited to be a returning Mountaineer. Her favorite part of the veterinary technology program has been the "support and genuine care that each of my professors and the other supporting faculty have shown to the students in this program." Working full-time as a veterinary technician in Durham, NC while completing her degree, Gage is interested in becoming a veterinary technician specialist and training future veterinary technicians.


Mars Galarreta | Charlotte, NC
Galarreta decided to pursue a veterinary technology degree after working in an animal hospital for two years. She chose App State's program because the online structure allowed her to remain in Charlotte, NC. When asked what her favorite part of the program is, Galarreta answered, "Everyone seems so nice and excited. I truly feel like we are going to become a strong team. The classes seem to have been put together with care and a lot of thought." The owner of four dogs, Galarreta is interested in veterinary dentistry for cats and dogs. Ultimately, she hopes to take what she's learned in the program and "bring it home to the hospital that I work for. Everyone there has given me and my family so much."


Braedyn Garland | High Point, NC
Initially unsure of exactly what she wanted to do, Garland found that App State's veterinary technology program "absolutely fulfills me when it comes to what I want to do with my life." So far, Garland has enjoyed the hands-on experience she's gained from shadowing veterinary professionals. Like many students in the program, Garland has a full house with one cat and five dogs, 4 Pitbulls and 1 Doberman. "They grew up with me, I got to see them be born, so they mean a lot to me and I would do anything for them," she explained. Garland, who lives in High Point, NC, hopes to use her degree to work with large animals, such as cows and horses. "I also know that whatever I do with this degree, I'm going to use it for the Lord and bring people closer to Him," said Garland.


Willow Hamby | Hickory, NC
When asked why she chose App State's veterinary technology program, Hamby explained, "My dream since I was a little girl in App State family housing was to go to App State, then the program started and another dream of mine was fulfilled!" Hamby, the owner of one cat named Spain and two dogs named Sam and Dean, has enjoyed learning more about animals and how to work with them. She plans on working as a veterinary technician in Hickory, NC while completing coursework to become a veterinarian. "I went to a veterinary office for the first time through this program and it was so fun!" Hamby said.


Alexis Keating | Charlotte, NC
Keating is a returning student who has found her passion as a student in App State's veterinary technology program. "I went to App State previously but wasn't successful because I wasn't passionate about my past majors. When I stumbled across this program I felt super inspired and determined to go back to school and try again. I am now achieving everything I have ever wanted!" Located in Charlotte, NC, Keating has one dog and two cats, who she describes as "very spoiled rescues." Keating has enjoyed learning about the different veterinary technician specialties and hopes to work in an emergency animal hospital or animal dentistry clinic in the future.


Jami Nethercutt | Sylva, NC
Nethercutt decided to pursue a veterinary technology degree after working as a non-licensed veterinary technician for four years. She chose App State's program because the online structure allowed her to remain in Sylva, NC and because of App State's positive reputation. "My favorite part is being able to learn new techniques to use in practice, as well as learning all the aspects of Fear Free," explained Nethercutt, who hopes to attend veterinary school in the future. "I am confident this degree will help me gain a better understanding of all views of veterinary practice," she added. Nethercutt's specialty is bovine palpation, or pregnancy diagnosis in cows. While she loves working with large animals, Nethercutt also owns two dogs, a Belgian Malinois and a Standard Poodle, and two cats.


Chelsea Phillips | Wilkesboro, NC
Phillips, who has three years of clinical veterinary experience, chose App State's veterinary technology program because it is one of the only four-year programs offered exclusively online. "My favorite part of the program so far has been the sense of community and support provided by administrators and instructors," said Phillips. With interests in research, education, management and insurance, Phillips plans to use her degree to improve the veterinary industry. In her free time, Phillips enjoys hiking, biking, reading and spending time with her pets at her home in Wilkesboro, NC.


Caitlyn Smith | Boone, NC
Smith decided to pursue a degree in veterinary technology after her cat was hospitalized for several days due to a misdiagnosis. Smith, who grew up in Purlear, NC, had been exploring programs when she learned about App State's veterinary technology program. "Appalachian State had always been a goal of mine until we moved away, I had grown up around the area and my family was nearby. I heard the news and it felt almost as if it was meant to be. It was a done deal ever since!" explained Smith. So far, Smith has enjoyed the team-based learning the most. A member of the App State Equestrian Team, Smith would potentially like to open an equine boarding facility and work as an on-site veterinary technician after earning her degree. "Everything has felt like it has been lined up perfectly for me. I’m on the team, educating myself in my dream major, and at a University that I had looked up to all my life," Smith said.


Lauren Williams-Eller | Granite Falls, NC
Williams-Eller chose App State's veterinary technology program because it was completely online, allowing her to spend more time with her children and animals at home in Granite Falls, NC. Williams-Eller owns four dogs named Tanner, Rudy, Indie and Vixen; six cats named Izzy, Bagheera, Drax, Harry, D'Artagnan and Captain Kidd; four ducks named Quackers, Howard, Bernadette and Cassian; five chickens named Brownie, Treasure, Porsche, Olivia and Chanticleer; and several fish. According to Williams-Eller, her favorite part of the program is "learning more about animal behavior." After earning her degree, Williams-Eller hopes to become a registered veterinary technician at the clinic where she currently works.

Appalachian State's online, four-year Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology degree is designed to benefit veterinary professionals, pets and the broader industry. To learn more, visit


About the Department of Rural Resilience and Innovation
Appalachian State University’s Department of Rural Resilience and Innovation is one of 17 academic departments in the College of Arts and Sciences and serves as a hub for App State faculty, staff and students working on scholarship, teaching and service with rural community partners. The department, which launched in summer 2021, is home to App State’s online, four-year Bachelor of Science in veterinary technology degree and offers seed grants to fund research or service-learning class collaborations that address challenges faced by rural American communities. Learn more at

Written by Lauren Andersen
October 21st, 2022

Housed in the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Rural Resilience and Innovation, Appalachian State's Veterinary Technology program supports a growing need for skilled veterinary specialists in rural communities and advances industry standards by contributing to a more sustainable future for the veterinary profession.
Published: Oct 21, 2022 11:00am