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Haley Roecker '13

From Simpson to Veterinary School


As Haley Roecker, ’13, sits in her first year veterinary school class, it’s a bit like having deja vu.

“Much of what they are teaching us this semester is a review from what I have already learned at Simpson,” she said.

That’s right. A review.

Roecker majored in Biology and graduated in May 2013. From there, she was accepted into veterinary school at Iowa State University, where she began classes in the fall, filling one of only 63 spots available to undergraduates from Iowa.

She is another example of how Simpson College prepares its students for their future success whether it’s employment or continuing on to graduate and professional schools.

“It was competitive to get in but I knew I was prepared,” Roecker said. “At first I wasn’t sure how it would go but it’s really been a review so far. I took Anatomy, including the cadaver lab, at Simpson, so now I’m now the “expert” in my Anatomy lab.”

The same was true for other classes. “Because of the Physiology class I took at Simpson, I knew a lot of what they were teaching in Cellular Biology. Many of my current classmates had not had that kind of exposure to the material but Simpson prepared me very well.”

According to Roecker’s mom, Janet, Haley wasn’t a naturally gifted student. “In high school, she got good grades but wasn’t in the “brilliant” category by any means,” Janet Roecker said.

Haley agreed, saying that when she got to college, she learned quickly that she couldn’t just memorize the material, take the test and be done. “I really had to apply what I learned, and that was a big difference.”

Roecker realizes that Simpson taught her not only the academic materials but also how to really learn. “All my professors, but especially Dr. (Jackie) Brittingham, pushed me and set high expectations for me. It was difficult but they were also always available if I needed help or advice. That made a huge difference for me.”

That academic rigor also gave Roecker something else – self confidence. “I used to stress out over every test but once I realized how to study and apply what I learned to actual situations, I became much more confident in my abilities and knew that if I did the work, I would do well.”

Simpson College may not be the first place a student would think of if they are thinking of going to veterinary school but Brittingham would like to change that. Roecker is one of several Simpson students who have gone on to veterinary school.

“In addition to Haley, we have two alums in their second year of vet school at ISU – Hunter Vandenberg and Jenni Stumpf. They all tell me similar stories about how well prepared they were for the next level and that’s certainly gratifying to hear,” Brittingham said.

Janet concurs. “You know, at the beginning, I had my doubts if Simpson was the right move for Haley given her interest in being a veterinarian, but now it’s clear that it absolutely was. I tell others that as competitive as vet school is, they should put themselves in the best place to learn how to be a critical thinker. And now that I can look back, Simpson College is definitely that place.“

So with three and a half years of vet school left, Haley feels up to the task.

“My first year has shown me that I can handle what’s ahead,” she said. “Simpson gave me the knowledge and the confidence to succeed.”