Kayla Rodriguez, fifth grade student at Long Elementary, has spent most of her life around animals. Her dream is to one day become a veterinarian.
Her interest for veterinary science started at a young age. She grew up around cattle and would often accompany her father to treat sick farm animals.
“My dad used to be a vet for large animals,” said Kayla. “So I was able to observe animal behavior and their eating habits. I’ve seen conditions like prolapse (when internal organs slip) treated in pigs and in lambs. I’ve also seen a baby cow being born. That’s what inspired me. I want to be able to help animals get better when they’re sick.”
Kayla has been raising a pig for the past few months and will be showing it at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show in March. When Kayla first met her pig, she felt a little unsure of how it would react to her, as pig temperament can be stubborn.
She regularly visits her pig after school to make sure that it gets enough exercise and protein feed. Her goal is for her 93-pound pig to weigh 240 pounds by March. Along with ensuring her animal gets proper nutrition and exercise, Kayla must make sure that her animal is healthy and clean.
Her experience in FFA (Future Farmers of America) and caring for animals has taught her a few tricks of the trade.
“In FFA there’s a group that you could join to study to become a vet. I’ve given shots to animals already,” said Kayla. “When an animal is sick, it’s slow and doesn’t eat. You know, if you give pigs cake mix, they love it. They love strawberry cake mix put into their feed. You mix it with a little bit of water and a little bit of milk. It’s a great way to get them to eat.”
An academic standout, she is also part of the student leadership at her campus. Kayla campaigned and gave speeches to attain her most esteemed role of student council parliamentarian.
She attributes her ability in public speaking and student council to her continued participation in Elite Cheer Force and UIL Oral Reading.
“I’ve been doing cheer and oral reading for a while, so I’m not shy to speak in front of people; that has helped me out,” said Kayla. “I’m glad to have the opportunity to represent my school. It feels great.”
As Kayla looks forward to the next chapter of her academic career, her focus remains on being a model student and fundraising for her student organization’s parting gift to Long, a school mascot.