Ever since her childhood, 11th-semester veterinary student Alexandra Ruff has always wanted to be a vet. However, when instructors asked their students what areas or what animal species they would like to specialize in, she never raised her hand. She believes that when you’re a vet, it’s the area that chooses you and not the other way around.
– Although everyone who graduates from István Street obtains the same VDM diploma, they never end up as a vet in the same way. How did your journey take you to the Alma Mater?
– I come from a half Swabian, half Transylvanian family. I was born in the town of Mór. Dr Ágoston Zimmermann, who was a highly-acclaimed veterinarian, doctor of philosophy and university professor, was also born here. I went to the primary school named after him. I still remember my school’s slogan; a legacy from Dr Zimmermann’s father: “Be thrifty, learn and do everything you can: then you will have something, know something and be somebody.”
– You’re one of the few students who began their higher education in another institution. First, you studied Engineering in Veszprém…
– … Even though whenever I was asked what I was going to be when I grow up, I always categorically announced: Weeell, a veterinarian! (What else?) I’ve always been attracted to living beings and nature. My grandmother had a lot of animals and I enjoyed caring for them, I could hardly leave them. Unfortunately, I was having second thoughts right when it was time to submit my college application. After the detour in Veszprém, I was admitted to the University of Veterinary Medicine and I’ve never chickened out any more.
– Which animal healthcare area did you get particularly interested in during your years here?
– Instructors often ask this question during their lectures, they want to know what area or what animal species their students would like to be involved with. However, I never raise my hand because I believe that it’s the area that chooses the vet and not the other way around. You need to examine what you’re good at. No matter how much you want to be a surgeon if you’re not dexterous and your handshakes. On the other hand, if you have excellent interpersonal skills you might easily get patients even in a provincial pet practice, for example. At the moment I am primarily interested in the pig industry and working as a veterinary officer but nothing’s carved in stone yet. I haven’t given up on the idea of an academic career, either.
– What successes have you had so far?
– I think the biggest success was the creation of the National Veterinary Competition and it was the best experience for our community, too. I was so overjoyed after the finals that I burst into tears. We got a lot of acknowledgement and positive feedback. The students who were competing with us in the past two years are now going to school with us here.
– If you live in Budapest, you can often spot veterinary students because they tend to walk around with a four-legged companion. What can you tell about your pet?
– Since I have a 7-year-old sister and a 17-year-old brother, I was always surrounded by small children, often acting as their babysitter. It was the same with dogs; we always had dogs at home, often more than just one. When I moved to Budapest and couldn’t go back home so regularly, I began to feel a void that no other hobby could fill. By my sophomore year, this void had taken unbearable proportions. I guess you can figure out where I’m going with this. My border collie is called Hope. I think dogs can give a lot to people. They can help you relax and unwind; if you’re in a bad mood, they can give you instant help and unconditional love.
– What’s your favourite activity in your leisure time?
– Event organization! I always organize something; competitions, Equus Days or “just” a year-group meeting. To relax completely, I often just go to a meadow and sit there with a book in my hands. If there’s no time for that, I love cooking as a form of active recreation. I can also mention yoga as my new pleasure activity.
– How do you envision your future 10 years from now?
– When I was younger, I used to daydream about a life where I keep animals somewhere in the country, away from the city noise and make a living as a vet taking care of the neighbouring villages. In today’s world, it would be quite difficult to achieve. Work, family, leisure time: it’s a very difficult triangle and it reminds me a bit of the Internet meme with the 3 categories: 1. Social life, 2. Study/work, 3. Sleep Pick two. However, I think you might be able to coordinate all three; I’m not giving up on that.
Interview by Gusztáv, Balázs – UNIVET Magazine, 2019 September