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Light of My Life: Being a Large Animal Vet Tech

Fashion. Travel. Painting. Running. No matter what someone loves, we all have things in our life that we feel make it worth living — things we look to that give us joy.

A few semesters ago, when I was figuring out what the true lights in my life were, I found myself wondering about other people’s. I was curious about what other people looked forward to doing or seeing and why. It can be refreshing to watch someone’s eyes light up as they boast about their favorite things in life.

I started a series titled “Light of My Life” in which I interview people about what brings them the most joy in life. The stories are a positive reminder that there are many things during our time on Earth that can brighten up our days. No matter how big or small, these lights in our lives help us get through the good and the bad.

In this installment of the “Light of My Life” series, I interviewed someone who looks towards her job for happiness.

Tatum Godfrey is a 21-year-old wildlife ecology and conservation major at Santa Fe College. For as long as she can remember, she’s loved animals and the outdoors. She’s been working with animals since she was 14 years old, and when she began college, she landed a job at a small animal hospital. While she enjoyed it, working with the smaller animals never truly fulfilled her. It wasn’t until her boss created an extremely unpleasant work environment that she knew she needed to move on to her next opportunity. Godfrey currently works as a large animal veterinary technician.

As a large animal technician, Godfrey and her boss travel throughout Gainesville visiting people’s homes and farms, tending to their animals' needs. The pair work with large animals such as horses, cows, sheep, goats and pigs. While she admits cows are her favorite to work with and be around, she has grown to love even more animals than before. 

Her workdays begin with a serene drive through the woodsier parts of Gainesville. Godfrey describes the ride as incredibly peaceful, as she gets to watch the sun shine through the towering trees in the early morning. During her shifts, she gets to see parts of Gainesville she never knew existed — places the average college student doesn’t come across. Being on farms and surrounded by luscious greenery reminds her daily how much she admires the outdoors and how happy it makes her. Feeling the earth beneath her feet and breathing in the fresh air never fails to make her smile.

Throughout the day, by working out of a fully stocked and equipped truck, Godfrey helps animals in need. She administers vaccines, removes harmful masses and collects x-rays and diagnoses. She finds the work incredibly engaging, which is an aspect of the job she’s very grateful for.

“It takes my mind off of everything going on in my life,” Godfrey said. “It keeps me focused, which I like. I learn new things every day.”

She says it’s active, fun and exciting. There is more work involved than any of her previous jobs, as it’s just her and her boss, but it doesn't deter her. She finds everything she does on the job “quite neat,” and it fascinates her to learn about different animals and how they behave. She even admits how she has come to learn about varying types of people through meeting clients, enjoying that process as well. Even when emergency scenarios arise, Godfrey finds it invigorating to learn how to navigate new and challenging situations. She says she has learned valuable lessons both about handling animals and life overall. She and her boss get along very well, creating a positive work environment that she can’t wait to arrive to each morning.

When asked about how this work makes her feel, she calls it indescribable. Godfrey explains that it’s an overwhelming good and warm feeling, but it’s hard to put into words the sincere joy this job brings her. 

From helping animals to frolicking around in fields, there’s not much that Godfrey doesn’t enjoy about her job. She feels incredibly lucky to have this opportunity, mentioning that it’s a rare and valuable job to have. Godfrey has been able to reach a goal of many — to have a job that brings happiness and not dread, and to do something every day that she loves doing. 

“It’s organized chaos,” she said. “But I love every second of it.”

Journalism major at the University of Florida.
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