One man’s lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian comes true after two decades of struggle, rejection and unrelenting determination.
Luling, Texas (June 8, 2020) — Victor Lopez wanted to become one thing in his life – a veterinarian. Born to immigrant parents with little money or education, going to school while working full-time and numerous rejections from veterinary colleges, the odds were stacked against Victor.
But on June 1, 2020, he accomplished his goal.
Lopez, 33, was raised in Luling, a small rural town in central Texas on his parent’s small ranch. One night, when Lopez was about 10, he and his father took a sick calf to the veterinarian to save its life. “This was something I never experienced before and I thought, ‘This is what I want to do,’” Lopez recalled. He began to spend his childhood caring for his family’s livestock and realized, “Families like mine may not like going to the veterinarian because of a language barrier. I hope to change that,” says Lopez.
A chance meeting while Victor was working at a sandwich shop located at a truck stop during his senior year in high school would become a pivotal point in his life. A customer, Dr. John Davidson, a veterinarian, struck up friendly conversation with Lopez about his life. When Lopez shared his goal, Dr. Davidson explained that he and his business partner, Dr. Steven Golla, of Chisholm Trail Veterinary Clinic were opening a new animal hospital. “He was professional, detail-oriented and you could tell that he was just different,” said Dr. Golla.
Lopez was quickly hired as a technician assistant in Dr. Golla’s veterinary practice.
After graduating high school in 2005, Lopez earned his associate’s degree in veterinary technology from Palo Alto College in San Antonio and later a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas State University in San Marcos, all the while working full-time at Chisholm Trail Veterinary Clinic and his parents’ ranch.
He becomes the first of his over 50-member family to obtain an undergraduate degree.
During his junior year at Texas State, Lopez applied to the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and was rejected – not once, but twice.
Undeterred, Lopez enrolled in a master’s degree program at Texas A&M University, Kingsville while continuing to work full-time. He applied to veterinary school for a third time and again, denied admission.
By 2015, Lopez graduated with a master’s degree in animal science, another first for his family. “It was hard for my parents to comprehend what I was doing, because they only had an elementary school education,” said Lopez. “Every time I graduated with a degree, they’d ask me, ‘Are you a doctor yet?’ and I’d have to say, ‘No not yet.’”
Later that same year, Lopez applied to veterinary school outside his home state, and was finally accepted by Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine in Alabama for the class of 2020.
On May 1, 2020, Lopez graduated from Tuskegee with a “virtual” graduation ceremony with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.
He is now the first doctor in his family. “My parents came to this country with nothing and they were looking for the American dream and I made it happen for them,” said Lopez. “I am able to finally tell my parents I am a doctor now!”
“You meet people who are born to do things. And this is what he was born to do, to be a veterinarian,” said Dr. Steven Golla. “If there was ever a sure thing, it was him.”
Victor Lopez joins Dr. Garrett Montgomery at Chisholm Trail Veterinary Clinic in Luling as an associate veterinarian as of June 1, a long way from his first job at the clinic over 15 years ago.
Lopez wants to be a role model for his community. “There are kids from the same situation as I was who come into the clinic and want to follow the same path,” he said. “Now they can see first-hand that the American dream is not impossible.”
Dr. Steven Golla
Chisholm Trail Veterinary Clinic – Luling, Texas