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marcom@stthom.edu

Weaver’s Dream Flies Her to Vet School
4/15/2013

When one’s dream comes true, a flood of emotions set in: excitement, hesitation, humility and optimism. Gary Wright sang about the dream weaver getting him through the night, but Kayla Weaver’s dream is shaping the rest of her future.

Weaver, a biology major, will graduate with 350 undergraduates and 793 graduate students on May 18 at Reliant Arena. She will attend the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University, the only veterinary medicine school in Texas.

Weaver, from Brownsville, Texas, and the oldest of two girls, is elated about her upcoming challenge and is ready to graduate as a St. Thomas Celt. On the brink of graduation, Weaver said she has longed to be a veterinarian her whole life.

“It’s nerve-wracking, but it’s definitely a dream come true,” Weaver said. “When I was in kindergarten and they asked me what I wanted to be, I always said a zookeeper. I hope to specialize with horses, but I love to work with all animals.”

Weaver didn’t become interested in research until her first class, molecular techniques, with Dr. Albert Ribes-Zamora, assistant professor of biology, which happened to be his first class too. She studied protein interactions and was hooked.

In addition to being an impressive researcher, Weaver is also an accomplished athlete. In April, while visiting her hometown, she won the first half marathon she ever ran. She was a member of the UST volleyball team for two years, but chose to pursue academics and devote her time to research.

Weaver continued the research of UST graduate Michelle Rubin, who plans to publish a paper on her cancer research soon. Ribes-Zamora, Weaver’s professor and advisor, said Weaver’s project analyzes how two genes interact with each other in ways that could be used to make chemotherapy treatments more effective in cancer patients.

“Kayla is an exceptional student with a great sense of responsibility and very good organizational skills,” Ribes-Zamora said. “Since the first day, she showed a great commitment toward the success of this project and allocated ample time to work in this project without affecting her overall performance in the rest of her coursework.”

Weaver presented her research results twice: in the Research Symposium at UST and at the 2012 Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards Research Symposium held at Baylor College of Medicine, where she received high accolades for her work.

“I have no doubt that Kayla’s outstanding intellectual skills and her extremely strong drive to succeed will make her develop an outstanding career as a veterinarian,” Ribes-Zamora said.

The Pre-Health Professions Program at St. Thomas establishes a foundation for entering specialized training in the health professions through our broad-based liberal arts and sciences education. Programs include pre-dental, pre-medical, pre-optometry, pre-pharmacy, pre-physical therapy, pre-physician assistant and pre-veterinary medicine.

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The University of St. Thomas, dedicated to educating leaders of faith and character, is a private institution committed to the liberal arts and to the religious, ethical and intellectual tradition of Catholic higher education. St. Thomas is Houston’s only Catholic University and was founded by the Basilian Fathers in 1947.

 

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