As she adjusted the jacket, she smiled toward her parents, Kristin and Wayne McGee of Refugio, and brother Bryan in the audience.
The White Coat Ceremony at A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences began its tradition in 2004, the same year Madi graduated from Refugio High School.
The coat symbolizes opportunity for the personal and professional development of students entering into their third year.
It also marks a milestone for Madi – the point where the light at the end of the tunnel is coming into view. Few students succumb to the challenges in vet school at this point, Kristin says.
“If you want something bad enough and work hard enough, it will come your way,” she says.
Madi arrived at A&M focused on a career in physical therapy, largely because of a high school basketball injury. Madi’s injury landed her in PT Scooter Kamm’s care at Memorial Hospital for some extensive therapy.
Not only her therapist, Scooter became a family friend and mentor. The high school athlete admired his ability to help people and his work “was interesting.”
On the journey to pursue her career goal at the university, Madi took a job in an animal clinic.
An innate need to ease suffering coupled with a lifelong love of animals caused her to rethink her goals.
“I always loved animals but never thought about a career in animal sciences,” Madi said.
Jobs in Madisonville and Brenham animal clinics brought a new career opportunity into clear focus.
“It makes me happy just to walk through the door to go to work,” Madi said. “Animals never complain, even when you have to twist their legs or touch injuries. They just wag their tails.”
The job also included working with an animal anesthetist. Madi is now ahead of her classmates and helping out by teaching them what she learned firsthand.
Memorable cases include removing a corn cob from a dog’s stomach and a button from a cat’s.
With only a couple of years ahead to finish, Madi is beginning to explore areas of need for vet services. After Dr. Clifton Pfeil retired, she remembers all too well how difficult it was to find a doctor for her pets.
“It was such a hassle to go at least 30 miles away,” she says. “Traveling with a sick or injured animal is not easy.”
She hasn’t ruled out Refugio, Beeville or the area because she enjoys small-town life.
“I grew up in Refugio where everybody knows you, and I like that,” Madi said. “But it’s good to go out and gain knowledge and experience, and to learn independence.”
But she’s also learned that the road to success is paved with hard work.
Madi urges students from rural Refugio County to believe in themselves and pursue their goals with confidence.
“Things aren’t always easy, so you have to be willing to push through the hard times,” Madi said.