GLENVILLE, W.Va. – Glenville State University student Dalton McGeeney will soon be heading to Mississippi State University’s (MSU) College of Veterinary Medicine. The Craigsville, West Virginia native was recently accepted into the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program at the school.
“I was very excited to get the call from the Director of Admissions at MSU. I had to call my family and girlfriend right away. I also had to run around the Science Hall and tell my professors,” McGeeney said. “It is my dream to become a veterinarian, and I still can’t believe I have been given the opportunity to make that happen. Even though I still have a long road ahead, getting into a veterinary school is a difficult milestone to have overcome.”
Admission to veterinary school is often quite difficult, especially for residents of a state without a veterinary school. McGeeney explains that, since no in-state institutions offer a DVM program, that he was offered what is known as a contract position at MSU. As a contract student, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission will pay the out-of-state tuition difference so Mountain State students can attend either the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine or Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine at in-state tuition costs. Each institution selects the contract students and, between both, only 13 total applicants are selected from West Virginia each year.
McGeeney says that he has always loved animals, but his decision to pursue a veterinary career was a recent one. “During my sophomore year I decided to change my major to biology and I knew that I wanted to have a career that made some sort of a difference. In 2019, I witnessed the wildfires that decimated much of Australia’s landscape. After seeing pictures of scorched fauna, I realized the only people who have the knowledge and experience to help these animals are veterinarians. Right then, I knew that was what I wanted to devote my life to.”
Before solidifying his decision, he began shadowing two veterinarians in his community to learn more. “I started shadowing Dr. James Gragg and Dr. Jonathan Blackwell and learned so much from them and the veterinary technicians and realized I still have much to learn. But most importantly, I found that I still want to become a veterinarian despite the hardships associated with the job,” he said.
McGeeney’s professors at Glenville State say it was no accident that he earned admission into the DVM program at MSU. They say his work ethic, curiosity, and ability to relate to the material being taught make him an excellent candidate for the program.
“Dalton epitomizes what it means to be a good science student. He has an enthusiastic curiosity about how and why things work the way they do, and he makes connections among the material in different science classes. It was a rare day that Dalton did not stay after class to ask a question that linked the material in that lesson to what he had learned in other science classes. The questions were always well reasoned and concise, and reflected a desire to truly understand the material. He really kept me on my toes in being able to answer some of the more challenging questions,” said Dr. David O’Dell, Professor of Chemistry.
“Dalton has been one of the smartest and most hardworking students I have met in my career. I always enjoyed reading his answers to exam questions as they showed how much he infers. He always waits after class to discuss something he read and has this great ability to connect knowledge he gathered by reading or from other classes to the content that we discuss in the class. I am confident that he will do great in veterinary school,” said Dr. Shalika Silva, Assistant Professor of Biology.
While unsure of the exact path he plans to take after completing the four-year DVM program, McGeeney says he will likely return to his home state and work in a rural area. “Rural areas are in the most need of veterinarians, and I want to help these communities. I am from a rural community and plan on eventually moving back to West Virginia one day, but I am open to living in other parts of the United States for a while,” he said.
As he works toward completing his senior year at Glenville State University, McGeeney says that he appreciates the education he’s received. “The professors in the Department of Science and Math have helped me think about and approach problems in a scientific way, which is how veterinarians solve problems. I have also received an excellent education in biology, chemistry, physics, sociology, and other disciplines which will provide a foundation in my veterinary education. And I can proudly say that I will be graduating debt-free thanks to its affordability and scholarships I have received,” he added.
“There are many are people I would like to thank who helped my dream become a reality, such as mentors I have had throughout my life, family, friends, professors, teachers, the West Virginia University Davis College of Agriculture for setting up mock interviews with me, and the individuals who have written letters of recommendation for me,” McGeeney said. “I would also like to give a special shout out to one of my professors, Dr. Kevin Evans. dr Evans is an individual who takes his work very seriously, is family oriented, and is a joy to be around. His laugh is definitely contagious. After I told him that I got into MSU, he told me the reason he became a professor was to see his students succeed and I truly believe him. He is a difficult professor, for good reason, and he will help anyone if they are willing to put in the work. He has been an excellent mentor and has shown me the meaning of hard work and that, at the end of the day, your work isn’t everything. He prioritizes his family and the time he spends with them more than anything else. This is how I would like to model my life…a life worth living is a life spent with ones you are closest to.”