Payton Hallsted

Branch Out

Payton Hallsted

As a stereotypical pre-veterinary student, I have always had a bit of a one-track mind. Since I decided at the ripe old age of six that I wanted to be a veterinarian, I have been working single-mindedly towards that goal. From jobs to clubs to my personal life, everything has been about veterinary medicine. While having SMART goals is incredibly useful, it can also lead to tunnel vision and keep you from seeking out other opportunities.

Since being accepted into multiple DVM programs, I have slowly started allowing myself to be something other than just a pre-vet student. While my passions still center around veterinary medicine, I now have the time (and a little less pressure) to seek out other interests.

For me, branching out means expanding on opportunities already at my disposal. I have been a Cowboy Joe Pony Mascot Handler for three and a half years, and I noticed that many people, even within the university community, don’t know about Cowboy Joe’s existence or history. Rather than seeing this as a negative, I saw this as an opportunity for growth, and, with the help and patience of my other handers, expanded Cowboy Joe’s social media presence A combined 3000+ followers on Instagram and TikTok @cbjpony. Following expanding his social media presence, more people started to recognize him at events across the state, and more people than ever have applied to be handlers. Knowing that I am graduating leaving the program better than I found it is a big source of pride for me, personally.

From working on expanding clubs and programs within the college, to just getting out to ride horses more often, giving myself space to branch out has made me a more rounded person and pre-veterinary student, making me even more confident in my decision to pursue a doctorate in veterinary medicine

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