“Overachiever” is an understatement when describing Dr. Karisa Tang, the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre’s newest veterinary fellow. Her resume reads like a where’s where of the animal care world. But she says this is precisely the type of experience you need if you’re going to make it in the competitive world of veterinary medicine.

As a kid in the San Francisco Bay area, Karisa says she was “kinda obsessed” with ocean life. Since then, she volunteered as a high school student at the San Francisco Zoo, as an undergraduate student at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, California, at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito and the Sea Doc Society in the San Juan Islands. The latter while studying at vet school at the University of California, Davis. Making her way up north, she eventually landed on our doorsteps in July.

Karisa feeds an elephant seal at a rehabilitation centre prior to starting at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Karisa feeds an elephant seal at a rehabilitation centre prior to starting at the Vancouver Aquarium.

It’s been quite the journey to get here. In total, there’s about 13 years of schooling after high school before one is a bona fide veterinarian in their desired area of practice. But, she says with a laugh, “That’s your best case scenario.”

The combination of Aquarium and rehabilitated animals is what drew Karisa to this fellowship. She also says she’s looking forward to the chance to work with fish, which she’s a little less familiar with than marine mammals.

Like the other fellows before her, it’s been full-on ever since Karisa started. But her can-do attitude is helping her gain experiences that will come in handy in the future. After her year here, Karisa would like to find work as a clinician and conservation researcher at an aquarium. With everything she’s done thus far, she’s sure to be a shoo-in.

Written by Karen Glanzberg, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.

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