“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Not everyone is lucky enough to know exactly what they want to do in life by the time they get to college, but Mike McEntire is one of those fortunate few. For Mike, the goal has always been to be a veterinarian, either at a zoo or an aquarium. Now, with applications out to vet schools in far off places like North Carolina State, Texas A&M and the University of Illinois, it’s a waiting game to see where his next steps will take him.

Originally from Sandy, UT, Mike graduated from Brighton High in 2006 and served a mission in Singapore and Malaysia before returning to his studies at BYU. Having long ago decided what direction he wants to go, the biology major has peppered his undergraduate years with internships and other experiences that have propelled him along that path. He spent a semester at a clinic called All About Pets, and one at the Mountain Horse Medical Center. He worked at Wasatch Exotic Pet Care in Salt Lake, and did a pre-veterinary preceptorship on campus. Then, in the summer of 2011, Mike was a veterinary services intern at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, where he got to work with seals and sea lions, penguins and sharks.

“I loved being there,” Mike said. “I got to help draw blood and give injections—it was awesome. I always thought I would like to work in a zoo or an aquarium but when I did, I was like wow, there’s nothing like this anywhere else.”

These days, Mike works taking care of the fish in the basement of the Widtsoe. It was his work there that inspired his thesis project, studying the effects of male dominance on female mate choice in poecilia gilii, a small but common live bearing fish found in the waters of Central America.

Mike even got to travel to Costa Rica to collect fish for the project.

“I was there for a week, and we just went through a couple of the provinces, collecting in streams as we went,” Mike explained. “It was pretty sweet.”

Back on campus, Mike serves on the Life Sciences Student Council, and volunteers with the campus Choose to Give campaign. He also works in a research lab, where he says he has come to love research.

“I really didn’t think I ever would,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot, and there is so much room to improve our knowledge about all these different species. Every day is something new.”

Now, as life is about to take him onto a new school in a new city, Mike will have something else new to take along with him: a wife. Mike met Virginia in a class last fall, and discovered they were in the same ward a few days later. Now the couple is preparing for their May wedding.

 

Fun facts: Mike speaks Mandarin. He is the oldest of five kids. He swam competitively as a teenager, and once even got to swim with Michael Phelps. Like so many honors students, he loves to read, and considers books “medicine of the soul”. One of his life goals is to read all the Barnes & Noble classics. This fall, he has been taking the C.S. Lewis Honors class (Check out http://afternoonsofreverie.blogspot.com/ to see some of his thoughts on what he’s been reading), which he considers one of his favorites, along with an environmental humanities class he took with Dr. Oscarson.