Coast Mountain College Alumni Spotlight: Northwest Veterinarian Gives Back to her Community
Coast Mountain College (CMTN) alumna Nicole Jamieson has wanted to be a veterinarian since she was in the fourth grade.
When she decided to pursue that dream, she was faced with choosing a post-secondary institution that would help her succeed. Although she found several options, none was quite what she was looking for.
Nicole’s mother is Tsimshian from Lax Kwa’laams, and her father is from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Her connection to traditional territory was---and still is---very important to her.
Nicole decided to remain in her home community of Prince Rupert and complete her first year of schooling at CMTN (then Northwest Community College). This decision provided many perks, including saving on living costs and being close to the outdoors.
“I’m happiest when I’m outside, going fishing, going hiking, or taking the dog out and playing with him,” says Nicole. “And being able to do that at the college and UNBC was easy.”
After completing a year at CMTN, Nicole finished her bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) in Prince George. After graduation, she took a short break from school to work in forestry and the oil and gas industry.
When she wanted to start her doctorate in veterinary medicine, Nicole says at that time, band council funding was not available for the program she wanted. Determined to achieve her goal, she travelled to Port Simpson with her mother and made a presentation to the band council on how supporting her continued schooling could benefit them, as well as surrounding communities.
Nicole received the funding she needed and completed her education. When she got her licence, she made sure to volunteer with the Canadian Animal Assistance Team (CAAT), providing free spaying, neutering, and various other services to animals in Lax Kwa’laams, giving back to the community that helped her.
Nicole is grateful for her education and work experience in Northern BC, where she says she learned a lot and continues to adapt in her work.
“It’s when you’re a veterinarian in a small town that you learn everything you didn’t think you had to [learn],” says Nicole. “I find the biggest difference between southern and northern mentality is adaptability. [N]ortherners are going to approach a situation much differently.”
Although she went the academic route to build her career, Nicole says she wants to emphasize that higher education of any kind is beneficial.
“I always encourage younger generations to pursue a trade,” says Nicole. “One of the biggest areas in job demand right now are the trades,” adding that she chose veterinary medicine because she has wanted it since she was little, but many other paths can also lead to a successful career.
When asked what advice she would give to Coast Mountain College students, Nicole said:
“Be flexible. You never know what’s going to change…. If you don’t get into the career field that you went to school for, it’s not the end of the world. It’s a stepping stone to get you in the direction you want to go.”