Accomplished Veterinarian Reflects on Path to Success

Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine hosts free information seminar Oct. 26


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Dr. Michael Zareski, owner and medical director of Western Veterinary Group in Lomita, Calif., didn’t always know he would become a veterinarian. In fact, he began his professional life as an English teacher in Japan and even considered pursuing a career as a pilot. Yet Dr. Zareski never lost his childhood draw to animals, and in a defining moment in his mid-20s, decided to pursue a veterinary degree; and his opportunity for change was afforded to him by Ross.

“I would never have had the opportunity to become a veterinarian and experience my current success without Ross,” said Dr. Zareski. Admissions officials from Ross will be in Irvine next weekend to hold an information seminar for those interested in attending veterinary school.

Despite having already earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and Spanish at Santa Clara University, it was not a direct path into veterinary medicine for the Palos Verdes Estates native.

“I began by pursuing another undergraduate degree to meet the science requirements for vet school,” Dr. Zareski said.

He also gained practical experience by volunteering at a local hospital as kennel help. “Cleaning cages wasn’t exciting,” Dr. Zareski said. “But everyone has to start somewhere, and it helped me make the next leap into vet school.”

Dr. Zareski’s tenacity was rewarded when he was accepted to Ross in 1999. He went on to finish the School’s academic program located in St. Kitts, West Indies and completed his final clinical year at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge - one of the more than 20 AVMA-accredited U.S. veterinary schools affiliated with Ross. Today, there are three Ross students conducting clinical clerkships at the University of California, Davis (UCD). Ross and UCD established an education agreement last year.

“I loved my experience at Ross in St. Kitts,” said Dr. Zareski, who frequently travels back to the island with his family to visit instructors and see how the school has grown. “Some of my best friends are other vets I met when we were all students in the program.”

After graduating, Dr. Zareski launched his career in 2002 as a small animal practitioner - knowledgeable in all aspects of general medicine and surgery – in Southampton, N.Y. Following a move three years later back to southern California, he started Surfside Veterinary Services, a house call practice that served clients throughout Los Angeles.

When opportunity to buy a stand-alone clinic came up a couple years later, Dr. Zareski merged his house call business with Animal Birth Control (a spay and neuter clinic) to open Western
Veterinary Group, a full-service practice where he and his staff provide care to about 75 patients per day. Next for Dr. Zareski is the reopening of Crenshaw Animal Hospital, which he acquired last year, as a newly-designed, state-of-the-art medical facility.

Dr. Zareski reflects upon his journey with little regrets.

“Pursuing a veterinary degree at Ross was not an easy road – the work was very challenging,” he said. “But anyone can do it if they stay focused.

“There is nothing about my experience I would change,” said Dr. Zareski.

To learn more about Ross, attend a free information seminar Sat., Oct. 26 at the Westin South Coast Plaza in Irvine at 10 a.m. For more information, call 855-ROSS-VET.