Ashley Natividad is an animal lover and a veterinary technology, or vet tech, student at Windward Community College. It’s the only college in Hawaiʻi that offers degree and certificate programs for veterinary paraprofessionals, which was great news for Natividad.
“I thought first you need to transfer and go to the mainland or online, so it is really good that I can stay here at home and get my career,” said Natividad.
The program reached a significant milestone in the spring 2014 semester with the official opening of the new $2.1 million Veterinary Technology Annex, a 2,000 square foot addition to the college’s Hale ʻImiloa Science Complex.
“This facility is a state-of-the-art facility that will train our students how to use x-rays, do surgeries, dental procedures,” said program director John Kaya. “So it is very instrumental to give a good solid, educational background for knowledge and skills for our students.”
The facility includes an x-ray room, surgery room with two surgical tables, canine ward with six kennels, feline and exotic animal ward with 16 pet condos and a large treatment room that accurately mirrors a typical veterinary hospital or office.
“This is the final piece of the puzzle in order for us to get national accreditation from the American Veterinarian Medical Association,” said Windward Community College Chancellor Doug Dykstra.
The veterinary technology program associate of science degree had received provisional accreditation in 2013.
State and community leaders along with faculty, staff, students and their pets were on hand for the dedication ceremony. Governor Neil Abercrombie even brought his dog, Kanoa.
“I believe this program will be a driving force in the advancement of animal health,” said Abercrombie.
The governor and other state lawmakers also talked about making certification for veterinary technicians mandatory by law.
“Without that certification, vet techs could well be hired without the training, and they could be practicing on your pets,” said Dykstra.
The veterinary technology program at Windward Community College is an intensive, two-year, 70-credit program that requires many hours of animal handling. Students receive training in pharmacology, radiology, anesthesiology, surgical assisting, dentistry, nutrition and veterinary office procedures and also have to intern at two clinics and or shelters.
It has given Natividad and students like her a chance to pursue their dreams.
“Because I love animals and I love working in the medical field,” said Natividad. “And eventually I want to become a technician specialist in emergency and critical care.”