May 14, 2024

‘I’m grateful for the connections I’ve built’


As a junior at NDSU, Charles Vaughn had no idea he would be accepted into three prestigious veterinaryschools. But hard work and dedication provided options and next fall he’ll be enrolled in the University of Minnesota’s veterinary program to work toward a doctorate of veterinary medicine.

“It worked out. I got in the first time, which is still incredibly exciting,” said Vaughn, a biological sciences major from Fergus Falls, Minnesota. 

Vaughn credits NDSU for preparing him for veterinary school by laying a solid academic foundation. His well-rounded education, participation as the vice president of the Pre-Vet Club and connections he’s made on campus have all factored into his success. 

“Being in a leadership role, being around a lot of people who are currently in the career who are professors and advisors, getting a lot of that information, making those connections within the field already through the club was the reason I initially decided to go into veterinarian medicine,” he said.

A summer job in Fergus Falls working with pigs also helped spark Vaughn’s interest in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine. Vaughn is specifically interested in working closely with reptiles, something he has already been able to do as the head undergraduate caretaker for the reptile education collection on campus. 

Vaughn also has worked closely with Matthew Smith, associate professor of practice in the Department of Biological Sciences, in Smith’s herpetology lab. Vaughn said Smith has served as a mentor over the last two years and wrote a reference letter on his behalf for veterinary school applications. 

“He has been a great resource for me, not just giving me the opportunity to initially work with the reptiles but believing in me enough to serve as a reference and to propel me more into a leadership role within his lab,” Vaughn said. 

Smith said Vaughn has been a stand-out student in the classroom and in the lab.

“He has been a tremendous student in pretty much every way imaginable. He works incredibly hard, is very dedicated and obviously quite intelligent. Beyond that though, Charles is incredibly humble, kind, a terrific classmate and co-worker and just genuinely loves to learn.  He is always engaged and asking questions, always striving to learn more and yet still help those around him succeed as well,” Smith said. “I am very sad that NDSU is losing Charles a year early, as he has been a terrific example of the type of high-achieving students we have here. That being said, I am very happy he is moving forward in his career path and I know that he will be very successful in the path he has chosen.”

In the future Vaughn wants to continue working with reptiles. His goal is to provide proper care information and welfare to a growing population of people buying reptiles as pets. 

Vaughn’s advice for prospective students is to not be afraid to make connections.

“I’m grateful for the connections I’ve built during my time here that have really helped support me and propel me through this process to be as successful as I ended up being,” he said. 

Apply now to start your own path to success or schedule a tour to see what NDSU has to offer. 

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