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Dr. Katherine Kilpatrick

CVM grad takes chance at degree, finds career in Alaska

Friday, February 24, 2023

Media Contact: Kaylie Wehr | Coordinator, Marketing and Public Relations | 405-744-6740 |

Dr. Katherine Kilpatrick gazed through the crisp air at the majestic splendor of North America’s highest peak.

That day, taking an aerial tour of Denali National Park, Kilpatrick looked back on the path she had taken to get there. Her journey to the state known as The Last Frontier hadn’t been easy.

A native of Carrollton, Texas, Kilpatrick wanted to be a veterinarian since she was a girl. In second grade, she discovered she was dyslexic, which set her back academically.

“I had to transfer to special dyslexia classes and I was eventually able to graduate from those,” Kilpatrick said. “After moving back to the regular classes, I was really struggling. It was really hard to keep up with the reading and it just made me not feel very smart and my grades weren’t very good.”

Those grades, a mix of mostly B’s and C’s, caused Kilpatrick to feel like maybe being a veterinarian wasn’t in the cards for her.

When she met with her high school guidance counselor, she received that same advice, with the counselor pushing Kilpatrick toward an alternate path.

“I told her that I wanted to be a vet and she looked at my GPA and said that I wasn’t smart enough for that,” Kilpatrick said. “I believed her because I went from middle school, all the way through high school thinking that because I was a ‘B and C’ student that I was not very smart and a lot of my teachers didn’t really think I was that smart, either.”

Kilpatrick was proficient in art, so she decided to work toward earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. She graduated in 2012 with that dream of becoming a veterinarian still at the back of her mind.

Kilpatrick moved to Tulsa and worked a few odd jobs. She coached swimming and worked at a FedEx printing site for years before she had an epiphany.

“I was sitting in my FedEx office one day and I was thinking that I can’t do this forever,” she said. “So, I looked into going back to school.”

Kilpatrick reached out to Anna Teague, the admissions and recruiting coordinator at Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Teague informed Kilpatrick that she could take prerequisite courses at Tulsa Community College, so she decided to give it a one-semester trial run.

“I ended up with a 4.0,” Kilpatrick said. “So I felt really lucky because I had a professor for biology and microbiology that pulled me aside one day because she knew I was struggling and assured me that I needed to be a vet because I am too smart and have to do it.”

Kilpatrick was accepted into OSU CVM in 2018. As part of her curriculum, Kilpatrick took the applied canine exercise physiology elective that Dr. Michael Davis teaches. As someone who appreciated what working dogs could do, Kilpatrick said the course piqued her interest.

“When I signed up for the class, I had been talking about going into the military,” Kilpatrick said. “Since I have decided not to do that. I talked to Dr. Davis before the class about becoming a trail vet and working the different sled dog races. For that, I would just have to know more about athletic dogs. I wanted to just see and learn more about it.”

In the class, Kilpatrick had the opportunity to travel to Alaska and work hands-on with sled dogs. She learned an immense amount of knowledge from Davis and Dr. Sean McPeck, who works with the military aspect of canines.

It was a life-changing experience. She began working at Tier 1 Veterinary Medical Center in Palmer, Alaska, about 45 minutes northeast of Anchorage. At one point, she had a week off, which is when she went glacier climbing and took the tour of Denali.

“I just had never been to a more beautiful place,” she said.

It was something she never could have imagined. After earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree this spring, Kilpatrick began working full time at Tier 1, making a difference in the lives of working dogs on the tundra.

Although she took a long journey through the valleys of life, Kilpatrick is finally at the peak of her ambition.

Photo By: Phil Shockley, Story By: Jordan Bishop | Vet Cetera

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