Gwinnett Technical College Student is Top Dog in Veterinary Technology Field
A love of animals didn’t necessarily draw Ryan Cheek to Gwinnett Technical College’s veterinary technology program. But a love of veterinary technology is what has kept him in the field.
“I didn’t have much of an idea what I wanted to do after high school,” said Cheek, who graduated from Norcross High in 1997. “And veterinary technology sounded fun,” so he signed up.
“But after my first quarter, I fell in love. There’s just so much diversity, and the technical aspects and getting to work with different species of animals is so great.”
Cheek enrolled in the program the first year it was offered and graduated two years later in 1999.The program began with basics, the ‘inside and out’ of animals, with such classes as anatomy and physiology. At the end of the first year, the program covered more of the diagnostic and technical procedures of veterinary technology. Additionally, students spent several weeks in clinical settings getting hands-on experience. The program’s culmination was an internship the last quarter. Cheek describes his internship at Zoo Atlanta as just plain “fun.”
“I can honestly say [the two years at Gwinnett Tech] were the best couple years of my life,” said Cheek. “My classmates became my friends, and Bonnie Ballard [instructor at the time and now program director for veterinary technology] was absolutely awesome. Awesome as a teacher and friend.”
His education at Gwinnett Tech prepared him for a position with Georgia Veterinary Specialists in Atlanta, where Cheek works the night shift caring for critically ill or injured dogs and cats. It also prepared him to continue his education. He is currently working on his bachelor’s in veterinary technology with a specialty in emergency and critical care. His education at Gwinnett Tech inspired him so much that he hopes to carry that same torch. Cheek’s goal is to become a full-time teacher at a technical college.
At 25, Cheek has also recently become a co-editor and one of 14 contributors of a new textbook for veterinary technicians called Exotic Animal Medicine for the Veterinary Technician by Ballard & Cheek published by Blackwell Publishing, and is a published author in the Veterinary Technician Journal.