Like many freshman and sophomores at Lawrence, Jim Sinning had no idea what he was going to do with the rest of his life. He had always loved animals, but he did not decide to major in biology until his junior year.Dr. Sinning, from Davenport, Iowa, first heard about Lawrence University when a few friends of his parents suggested that he apply. Once accepted, Sinning worked hard at taking classes in all disciplines. He recalled taking many Spanish classes, and even spent semesters abroad in Spain and Costa Rica. Also, Sinning enrolled in a fair number of anthropology, political science, psychology, and history courses.
Besides academic course work, Jim played in the symphonic band under the guidance of his favorite professor, Dr. Levy. Sinning’s most memorable experience from Lawrence involved wearing a gorilla suit to a Halloween party. During his junior year, Dr. Sinning decided “veterinary medicine was a natural choice for an animal lover with a strong interest in biology.”
Lawrence prepared Sinning for his veterinary career not by teaching him specific skills, but by creating a supportive yet challenging environment. Jim recalls, “It was more learning how to learn, how to think, than actually what I learned that helped me prepare for my career. Being an effective veterinarian means being well rounded and having an appreciation for all points of view.”
Sinning’s advice for students interested in veterinary medicine is “know what you are getting into by working in the field before veterinary school. It’s a highly demanding profession with a big burn out factor.” Sinning is currently satisfied with his position because “with the work comes great respect and admiration, mental and physical challenge, and the ability to see something new every day.” On a typical day at his veterinary clinic, Sinning sees patients, evaluates diagnostics, performs surgeries, and somehow manages to squeeze in a couple phone calls.
If he could do anything over at Lawrence, Sinning says he “would have dated more.”