Here is a little interview we had with the new student leaders of Broad Spectrum. You already know Nikki, now meet Amanda and Arturo!
Amanda Lynnea Fischer (blue font)
Arturo Otamendi (red font)
• BSVSA Position
VP? Treasurer! Queen of the Twitterverse
Louisiana State University
Louisiana State University
• Other Degrees
None yet! But fingers crossed I’m taking a year off from vet school to do research full time and possibly get a masters in biomedical science (from Cornell).
B.S. in Animal Sciences, hoping to do a residency/masters program after vet school.
• Where are you from?
Cornell University? Actually Long Island, but at this point it feels like I’m from Ithaca
Where am I not from? I was originally born in Maracay, Venezuela. Lived there for several years and then moved to San Francisco when I was 6 years old. One year later, we moved to Indianapolis, and another year after that we moved to New Orleans. I now live in Baton Rouge, LA.
• Non-vet interests
Knitting, crocheting, sewing (all of my pants need to be hemmed and I’ve made a few things from scratch like skirts, bags, etc.) gardening (I have an organic garden plot with some other vet students where I’m growing squash, chard, and herbs), cycling, I’m also a huge fan of roller derby!
I love to play my trombone. I have been playing for 12 years and it is something I do to relieve some stress. I also dabble on the violin and the clarinet. I love watching sports and spend any free time I have on ESPN. Love to play ultimate frizbee in between studying for exams.
• Vet Interests and Career aspirations
Wildlife a/o zoo pathology somewhere where I can use my research training. Maybe teaching someday. Maybe lab animal medicine...
I am very interested in internal medicine and hope to one day do a residency and become board certified. I also love research, more on the clinical side, and would like to continue some of the projects I have worked on during veterinary school.
• what interests led you to be involved in your school's LGBT organization or with Broad Spectrum?
Friendship and community. The Homophiliacs (Cornell vet’s LGBT group) were super friendly at the info fair my first year (who doesn’t find rainbow leis and Starburst inviting?). I started hanging out with them on Friday evenings and they had fun casual events (picnics, movie nights) that really made vet school fun. Last year I was really excited to go to my 1st SAVMA symposium and was told by upper classmen what Broad Spectrum was and that they would be having a meeting. At that point I was an officer of the Homophiliacs and the only one of us attending SAVMA Symposium, so I felt I needed to go. Once I met everyone I felt like I need to be involved. I think everyone who wants a group like the Homophiliacs deserves to have that at their school too.
While at SAVMA Symposium in Purdue this past spring, I met some very awesome people (Sonia & Liam) who were so proactive in leading the way for LGBT veterinary students with their leadership in Broad Spectrum. I was in awe of the many projects they had underway and the way they reached out the community. I immediately knew I wanted to become involved in Broad Spectrum and Sonia and Liam helped show me the ropes and what I was to do. I never imagined myself being in a leadership role in an LGBT organization for veterinary students, but I could not think of anything better to devote myself to.
• what were you most afraid of when applying to/deciding where to go to veterinary school?
I was afraid that by staying at Cornell I wouldn’t change or grow as a person. I was really concerned that I would not branch out to meet new people and would be sad when all my friends from undergrad left and moved on.
I was more unsure, as opposed to afraid, or whether or not I should be out in vet school. I was out in undergrad, but with the size of the university, I had no worries that people would create any trouble for me. I worried that with the small classes in vet school, and the amount of hours that we would have to spend with each other, that my classmates would judge me and treat me differently because of my sexual orientation.
• Did these fears prove to be valid? Or were you surprised by how awesome and sparkly your school experience has been so far?
That was definitely not the case. Friends I still have in the area always wonder where I’ve disappeared to. I think they assume I’m studying constantly. But I became really involved in the vet school with volunteering at the wildlife health center, clubs, SCAVMA, and Omega Tau Sigma (and studying!). I’m busy, but it’s stuff that I really want to be doing (most of the time).
I decided to be true to myself and to my classmates and not go back in the closet. It was very relieving because I never had to worry about keeping any secrets from anyone. I was very surprised at how open and accepting my classmates were. Louisiana is not known for being the most welcoming state to the LGBT community, but everyone at the veterinary school opened their arms and welcomed me for who I am. I have never had anyone use my sexual orientation in a discriminatory way and because of that I am able to live a free and open life.
• This is the precise moment at which the reality of being a vet student, studying round-the-clock, and having no life outside of school hits our sad interviewees:
I do wish I had more non-vet student friends, partially to escape talking about vet school all the time. Even when I find non-vet school people, I still talk about vet school. Maybe I should learn to talk about those other interests I have... Either way at least one afternoon a week my brain shuts down and I spend a few hours watching the X-Files.
Vet school certainly has been an intense ride so far. I feel constantly overwhelmed, and feel like I do not even have time to sleep. I miss the little things in life, like going to the movies with friends on a weekend. However, when I think about what I am doing, I realize that I am fulfilling every dream I have ever had. I know one day all the hard work, dedication, and sleepless nights will eventually pay off. I must decide to take it one day at a time and look forward to the future. I want to make a difference in the veterinary community, and I know that all of the little things that we do at BSVSA matter, even if it is just to a few people.
• Four fun Facts about you
1. I’ve been to Honduras and Belize on school trips (in vet school). 2. I’ve ridden my mountain bike 100 miles around Cayuga lake.
3. I really like going to karaoke nights in Ithaca and singing every Maroon 5 song they have.
4. I’m addicted to True Blood (it’s so bad, but soooo good!)
1. I was born in Venezuela, where most of my family currently lives, and am fluent in Spanish
2. I attended 10 different schools from the ages of 6-9
3. I can play the trombone, violin, clarinet, euphonium, french horn, and cello.
4. I love CATS! I am the president of the feline club at my school and have three cats of my own.