Hello! My name is Jeremy Shaba and I am a third-year veterinary student at the Ontario Veterinary College. I am the student team leader for my school, as well as the director of social media for the national leadership team. I first got involved with AAHA in the middle of my first year of vet school. Prior to coming to OVC, I was unfamiliar with AAHA. I had never worked in an AAHA-accredited practice or been exposed to one. The student leader at the time stood in front of our class and told us that she was looking for a new student to join the team and represent AAHA. She briefly explained AAHA and what the position entailed. Her talk piqued my interest--I loved that there was a gold standard of veterinary care that practices could strive for. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the student resources available from AAHA are truly unparalleled in the industry. 

I put in my application and crossed my fingers. I was soon notified that AAHA wanted to interview me, and I couldn't wait to have the opportunity to tell them a little more about myself and what I could bring to the position. My main goal in becoming an AAHA student leader was to get the students more aware of and involved in all the resources available to them. I was also enamored of the idea of accreditation for veterinary excellence. I accepted the position shortly after my interview and began my second year as the team leader elect. 

Becoming an AAHA student leader has really opened my eyes to all of the resources and tools available to students that many of us didn't even know about. One of the biggest things I've gained by being part of the leadership team is the invaluable networking that has taken place this past year. I have met so many wonderful people, including people at my school who are involved with AAHA. One of the perks of being a student leader is that I was able to travel to AAHA headquarters in Denver recently for student leadership training, thanks to AAHA sponsor, Zoetis. 

Students from across North America came together in one room to talk about leadership and what it means to be a leader in our own schools. We also spent time learning how to better connect with and inform our students of the resources available from AAHA. 

Most veterinary students are familiar with AAHA because they have worked at AAHA-accredited practices or they know someone who did. What vet students may not know is that AAHA has a ton of resources available for students to aid in career, life, and financial planning. The goal of our discussions during this leadership training revolved around how we can better connect with our students and how we can educate them about all these great resources. There were some really great ideas thrown around to get students more engaged and enthusiastic about AAHA, and I know that I am excited to get back to school in the fall and start putting some of these ideas into play.

For me, the best part of the training was the wonderful networking that took place. I have 35 new friends that I didn't know before and who I can now use as resources when I'm in need of advice. It's easy to struggle when you are on your own in an unfamiliar role. It's even easier to not ask for help because the fear of vulnerability is too great. The students present at the training have shown me that we are all in this together and we are much stronger when we work together to come up with new ideas and to solve our problems.

We hear a lot about leadership and ambition during vet school, but we don't often have discussions about what those mean. AAHA helped facilitate those discussions during our training in an effort to get the vet students of North America to start thinking about what kind of leader they want to be and what they can do to be the change they want to see in the industry. I am extremely grateful to AAHA and Zoetis for sponsoring this beneficial training. The friends made, ideas inspired, and discussions facilitated have left me in a position where I feel ready to help others the same way AAHA has helped me and other future leaders of the veterinary profession. 

Jeremy Shaba is the AAHA student team leader and veterinary student at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, Ontario. You can read more of his writing on his blog at jeremyshaba.com. 

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