This whole “Gabby Wild” thing started when I was four. While I may not have called myself “Gabby Wild”, the passion began after watching The Lion King. The magnificent diversity of animals, the prowess, the struggles, and the unification we all share with them hit me through this film.  Mind you these themes may not have hit me all at once when I was four, but as I matured, they nurtured a passion that convinced me that I wanted to become a veterinarian. Thus achieving this goal became my sixteen-year-old dream (or obsession, as some friends may consider).

Despite my passion for African wildlife, my parents never wanted me to go there out of fear of contracting some fatal illness (i.e. Ebola or something nutty like that). But who would guess that I would be selected to go on a trip to Kenya?

The schlep from America to Kenya is as schlocky as the word schlep sounds. 14.5 hours to Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Then 5 hours and 10 minutes to Nairobi, Kenya. (Why one goes East to go South West- I don’t know, I’m an aspiring vet, not aspiring pilot…) En exhausting route between Dubai and Nairobi, I received two missed messages and an email from Cornell Veterinary School Admissions informing me that they were trying very hard to reach me for an important matter. My heart was pounding uncontrollably. I had applied the Cornell Vet School, currently ranked as #1 in the country, and the first thing I thought was, “Shoot! I did something wrong on my application. I’m out!” In absolute exhaustion I replied to the email on my iPhone explaining that I had been in a plane for over 14 hours yet would telephone them the minute America woke up, which would conveniently be right after I landed in Nairobi.

The next 5 hours and 10 minutes were the longest of my life. The moment the plane landed I made the rather long-distance phone call and spoke with the gentleman who had left the messages on my phone previously. I could hear my heart pounding, and I became nervous that the adrenaline would pump me up so much to the point of having a heart attack. The gentleman, who happened to be the former dean of the veterinary college, after asking me how my flight was and what I planned to do in Kenya, finally said, “I am so glad you called back.” I remained breathless on the phone waiting for him to continue about why he was so glad. And he did. “I was trying to reach you to congratulate you on acceptance to Cornell Veterinary College.” My ears almost thought I was tricked. He said, clearly smiling by the way his voice had a ring in it, “We hope you will accept our offer.” As cliché as it may sound, tears of immense joy, pain, relief from years of studying, and triumph poured down my face. Perhaps he could hear them, perhaps he couldn’t, yet that was when he finished by saying, “You really have made my day.” Quickly wiping away the tears of happiness I replied, “I beg your pardon, but I think it is you who has made mine.”

So it is Africa that has taken me full circle to my dream. The dream began in Africa, and the dream was granted in Africa…