ACC veterinary programs create job path for animal lover

Samantha Keltgen has provided gentle care and training to Starlight, a stray mare that escaped her neighbor's yard several months ago

ACC veterinary student Samantha Keltgen of Elgin has cared for Starlight, a stray mare that escaped her neighbor’s yard several months ago.

It’s like bees to honey, the way animals seek out Samantha Keltgen. It was inevitable that a stray mare named Starlight would fall for her, too.

“My neighbor couldn’t catch his horse after it got into our yard,” says Keltgen, a pre-veterinary student at Austin Community College. “He told me, ‘If you can handle her, you can keep her.'”

That’s how Samantha corralled Starlight, and then Starlight’s colt, born a few months later.

Samantha and her half-Pyrenees dog.

Samantha and her mixed-breed Pyrenees dog.

“An animal that doesn’t get along with very many people will come up to me to sit in my lap and ask for attention,” says Keltgen.

Since she was 5 years old, Keltgen has wanted to be a veterinarian. “I was always reading about animals. When I heard you could become a vet and save lives, it clicked. That’s what I want to do.”

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It’s not all about horses, either. At her family’s home in Elgin, Keltgen has acquired one mixed-breed Pyrenees dog, two rabbits, one three-legged cat, and a firm plan for transforming her gift with animals into a career.

“Someday I would love to be working at an equine vet clinic and having my own place for my horses and all my animals,” she says.

Keltgen is close to completing ACC’s Associate of Science in Pre-Veterinary Medicine, which transfers to Texas A&M University and other universities. She also is exploring the college’s Veterinary Technician Program, which is based at the Elgin Campus and offers an applied science degree that leads directly to the workforce rather than transfer.

“I know a few of the diseases that animals fight, but I’d like to know more and be able to do more,” she says. “I’m looking forward to learning more than I know about how to help animals.”

It takes time and determination to reach her goals, but Samantha learned perseverance growing up in a military family.

“Being military reinforces some of their core values that I put in life and school,” she says. “My dad has been my motivation to do well in school. He’s always pushed us to be the best that we can.”

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