Growing up in the suburbs of San Diego, Dr. Blanca Camacho ’16 never envisioned that she would someday work with cows. In fact, she had never seen or touched a cow until she was in middle school. That all changed at UC Davis when Camacho took an animal science husbandry course at the dairy as an undergraduate.

“I was in charge of feeding calves—they’re like adorable, giant cuddly dogs!” Camacho says. “They’re so playful and have the best personalities.”

The experience propelled her to veterinary school to seek a career as a food animal veterinarian. During the summers following her first and second years, Camacho participated in the Early Veterinary Student Bovine Experience Program, where she had the opportunity to travel around the country and work with veterinarians in food animal medicine and large animal practices. She also saw that a career in food animal medicine focuses on both individual animals and herd health components, with the added role of ensuring food safety and public health.

“I gained an appreciation for what food animal medicine practitioners do on a daily basis. Those hands-on experiences encouraged me to explore this career path,” Camacho says. “It’s also been reassuring to have incredible women faculty mentors who excel in this field show me that I can do this if I want to.”

Camacho says it was fun sharing her experiences with her family like learning how milk and ice cream are processed (some of her favorite foods!) or helping with the birth of a calf. She and her sister (studying mechanical engineering) are both first genetion college students. Their parents immigrated from Mexico. That background encouraged her to work in outreach and recruitment in her hometown to encourage others to pursue higher education and accomplish their dreams as well.

“I don’t think my parents could have ever imagined where we are now—but it wouldn’t have happened without their support,” Camacho says. “They have never said no to experiences we wanted to try. I’m incredibly thankful to them.”

Camacho also realized in her final year of veterinary school that she was fond of teaching.

“We had the opportunity for students to shadow us,” she says. “They ask such probing questions that really push you to take a step back and think of something in a new way.”

After graduating, Camacho set out for Colorado State University where she is a food animal intern, combining medicine, surgery and ambulatory care.

“During this time, I hope to identify what role I’d like to take in education—either in academia or within a private practice taking on students. I’m very excited about the future and I have UC Davis to thank for every step of the way to where I am now.”