College of Arts and Sciences
Veterinarian living out her lifelong dream
For as long as she can remember, Dr. Lexie Moorhouse Hattaway has loved animals. A love of family pets from her childhood helped her decide that she wanted to become a veterinarian. She feels that the Anderson University College of Arts and Sciences gave her a strong foundation in biology and chemistry that helped her in her veterinary studies.
How did you find AU?
I was born and raised in Anderson. I played sports from elementary age, and I attended a couple of camps there. I even think at one point the volleyball coach came and did a camp for my high school team. I was also able to dual enroll and take classes at AU as a senior in high school through a program AU worked out with my school.
As I was in high school developing, I realized I wanted to play volleyball at the collegiate level, and I began to research a lot of the local teams that were in the area. I’m definitely a homebody, so I didn’t want to go too far. I saw that AU at the time had a competitive team. I was actually being recruited by a couple of other schools, but I really fell in love with AU. I was invited to one of their practices. The coach talked with me: “I don’t have a scholarship position available, but I have a walk-on position if you want to come practice and see if that would work out for you.”
So, I went and practiced with the team, I fell in love with the coach and the girls, and I got offered the walk-on position. I knew that was exactly where I was supposed to be and committed right there and then. I think at the time someone would have thought that was a little bit crazy because I had scholarship opportunities at other schools, but there was just a peace about knowing that’s where I was supposed to be, so I committed. Volleyball would probably be the initial thing that got me to AU.
When did you know you wanted to become a veterinarian?
When I was a little girl, my parents always said that I was the one that was with the animals… If they couldn’t find me, they just knew to find the dog and I wouldn’t be too far away. So since then, I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. My parents joke all the time that five-year-old Lexie would be so happy that this is what we’re doing today as an adult. There was a time in college that I questioned whether or not the veterinary field was truly where I wanted to be. I didn’t doubt that I wanted to work with animals, but I did doubt that it was in veterinary medicine, so actually with the advice of one of my AU professors I explored some other avenues. She helped me get into some dog training stuff. She even helped me get an internship at the Greenville Zoo one summer right before my senior year.
Once I had done those, I realized that those weren’t the avenues for me; I was supposed to go back to my first love. I’d like to say at that point in time I was convinced that veterinary medicine is what I was going to do; however, I still wasn’t completely sold, so as my senior year began to progress at Anderson University, I began to apply for entry level jobs past graduation—not just vet school.
I did apply to some of the veterinary schools, but I applied to numerous jobs. If you’re familiar with applying to veterinary school, you are supposed to apply to as many schools as you can; that way you don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. I applied to more entry-level jobs than I could count, and I only applied to two veterinary schools. I kept praying the Lord would swing wide the doors that He wanted me to walk through and close tight those He didn’t want me to, though I thought I knew which ones would swing wide and which ones would shut. Thankfully He did just that, though all the jobs that I thought I was the obvious candidate for, turned me down. I did not get one single offer! But the two veterinary schools I really shouldn’t have gotten into, accepted me.
That was risky because my chances were low for acceptance, due to the competitive nature of veterinary school. If you look at my transcripts at AU, I wasn’t some kind of phenomenal straight A student, but this was clearly the Lord closing doors and opening ones. Looking back, I couldn’t be more thankful.
What are some of your favorite memories of college?
Since I was on the volleyball team, I can never replace those memories with those girls and just the experiences you go through as teammates—between the victories, between the losses, between the late-night traveling or doing homework in hotel rooms or trying to study on the road for a test you have. Just the bond that we had, I can’t replace it with anything. I’m so thankful for them. I’m actually still in touch with some of my teammates that are still in the area. That’s been really neat, so the friendships that came from that.
I was also in the Biology Department. By the time we fully made it through, there was a core group of about four; we all still meet up. One of them actually lives in Greenville, so we meet up quite often—him and his wife, me and my husband. You share experiences in the labs that happen there; It creates memories you can’t find anywhere else (laughs). So probably between my teammates and my lab mates, I have some fond memories there.
Then I was also part of BCM. It was just so much fun with that group getting to worship together, getting to go through life stages, but on a more spiritual level together with them. I first joined the group just as an attendee, and then my sophomore and junior year I was a leader.
You can never beat Christmas time at the university either. Between the Christmas ensembles, the choir and orchestra performing and cookies at President Whitaker’s house, AU knew how to capture the spirit of Christmas and I will always cherish those memories.
How do you feel your Anderson University education has helped you in veterinary school as well as in your profession?
As far as specifically succeeding in vet school and the curriculum that AU had, I went the biology-chemistry route, whereas a lot of my vet school classmates went the animal science route. My success in vet school clearly stemmed from the education I received at AU and the way the professors were able to get the material across to us in an understandable way. Most of the professors were so passionate about their subjects, and so when you’re learning from somebody who loves what they’re teaching about, it’s hard not to absorb it. Seeing their passion made me learn it so much easier, so much quicker, and then retain it.
A class I specifically remember helping my vet school classmates with was genetics. I could remember specifics because Dr. I (Ivankovic) loved doing little charades for us that would help difficult concepts become more understandable. Then Immunology was a huge one… that was Dr. K (Koenigstein). We did a little game, we read an extra book; that sounds super nerdy but it’s more of an interesting book that you could potentially read if you were not even in the class. She took the time to take extra resources that would be interesting to us as students. My vet school classmates would be so impressed that I could recall the knowledge from undergrad, but it was because I could still see Dr. I performing her charades or still see Dr. K’s face light up when she was so excited to talk about certain things in that class. It really wasn’t an intelligence thing; it was being able to recall my specific professors who were so passionate about what they taught. You do collaborative learning together in vet school so the parts that I struggled with, I would receive help from classmates and vice versa. The subjects I succeeded in would be from, no doubt, my education at Anderson University.
Tell me about your veterinary practice.
We are a small animal clinic. Typically, the most common forms of veterinary practice are small animal clinics, large animal clinics or mixed animal clinics. Sometimes that will break down to where you just have an equine or horse practitioner and then you have one that does more livestock: cows, sheep, goats, pigs. Believe it or not, there are people in the area that own alpacas and llamas here in the Upstate. That kind of falls under that large animal grouping.
Small animal clinics can also get broken down further. You have small animal, then you’ve got exotics. My particular practice is just small animal. We have a rehab veterinary technician that was there. We would do exotics for her, but to the public it was not a very known thing.
My clinic sees mainly dogs and cats. I’m one of the veterinarians there, so I’ll see them for their health checks, sick visits, blood work, X-rays and then of course end of life services. We also perform routine surgeries, such as spays and neuters, mass removals and dentals, whether it’s the cleaning of the teeth or pulling teeth that need to be pulled or if there’s a fractured tooth. We also perform some orthopedic surgeries, like amputations. I specifically started training in ultrasound imaging and we actually started offering it as a service this year, so it’s definitely challenging my knowledge and skillset, but I’m having so much fun with that and it has been a great diagnostic tool to offer our clients.
What gives you the greatest sense of satisfaction?
My patients don’t come in telling me “this or that hurts.” They just come in sick. So, from a career sense, I think probably the greatest feeling of accomplishment would be using the training and knowledge that I have, being able to piece together the clinical symptoms that the owner is seeing at home and also what I’m seeing in the clinic. I’ll diagnose the patient from what we’ve been able to perform, start therapy and then I typically always try to do a re-check on them, depending on the disease that we’re suspecting, within about a week to two weeks. Seeing them come back in, so much better and happier and the owners can see the progress. Being able to diagnose a disease, start therapy, and then when I see that patient no longer suffering from their clinical symptoms, that they were when I first saw them—that’s just so rewarding. That would probably be the greatest sense of accomplishment within my career.
As far as just right now in life, it would be knowing that I’m doing exactly what God’s called me to do, and I get more fulfillment out of what I do in my job than what I ever anticipated because of following what God said, even when I try to buck the system and say “I’m not doing this” or “I don’t know if I want to do this.” Just knowing that if you ask and He’ll show you and you follow what He shows you, even if a couple of years ago you never thought it was what you would be doing. It can just bring you more satisfaction just knowing that you’re doing exactly what He’s called you to do.
It can be exhausting at times. We have a lot more pets than we do veterinarians. It’s exhausting, but I still love what I do.
What kind of advice would you give someone considering becoming a veterinarian?
I would say shadow as much as possible. Try to figure out if there is a certain avenue that you like. We talked about the different divisions and all their little subdivisions of small animal, large animal, things like that. Realize that the passion and love you have for your animals can be what ignites this, but you’ve got to have determination and a strong work ethic to get to where you want to be, because passion and love can be a good igniter, but it’s not always the thing that keeps you disciplined. Realize that it’s not always going to be easy to get there, but if it is something that you truly feel like God’s calling you to, if you make yourself disciplined, then you’ll get there.
Lexie’s Husband Nicholas Hattaway graduated in 2017 and enrolled in the first DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) program.