Meet Dr. Katherine Ralston, DVM
For as long as Dr. Katherine Ralston could remember, she wanted to be a veterinarian. "My 6th grade teacher wrote on my report card (that I still have!) 'When you become a vet, I'll bring Clint (his black Labrador) to see you.' As I got older, I discovered more and more reasons why I wanted to pursue veterinary medicine, including the challenge and choices for career focuses."
And in 2008, that dream of becoming a veterinarian became a reality when Katherine Ralston, the little girl from Vandergrift, Pa., became Dr. Katherine Ralston, graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, and full-time veterinarian at the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
It all began with a summer internship
Each summer, from 2005-2007, Ralston interned as a student public health veterinarian, or PHVs as they are called.
PHVs supervise other public health professionals to make certain establishments under the agency's jurisdiction comply with sanitation standards and properly implement systems that control hazards from entering the food supply. They enforce federal meat and poultry inspection procedures and provide humane slaughter oversight, among other things. It was in the humane handling of animals and protecting public health that Ralston found her passion. And she found her calling.
FSIS Offered Opportunity For Growth
Today, Dr. Ralston is a full-time PHV, but she has added Enforcement Investigations and Analysis Officer to her list of duties, along with program recruiter, speaker at conferences, a trainer of new veterinarians and she works with other summer interns. "I know that I am making a difference in the lives of humans and animals everyday as a promoter of public health and proper livestock handling. Every day that I can make a difference in someone's life or be a positive influence to them while performing my FSIS duties, I am happy."
What Keeps Ralston Committed to Her Work?
Ralston is committed to the work she does, she said, because she enjoys it. But more importantly, she said, it is because of the impact her work has on the American consumer. "I love where I am right now. I love being a public servant and I love my job."
What Would She Advise Others Considering a Career at FSIS?
"I have found that a career is what you make of it. There are lots of opportunities at FSIS and if you want to make the best of it, there are lots of opportunities. You have to put in the time and make the effort."
What's Next for Ralston?
In addition to her current job, she said she also dreams of one day owning a competitive quarter horse farm that her parents, siblings and their families can enjoy at their leisure. She also wants to become board certified in preventative medicine and complete advanced studies in equine internal medicine. "Whatever I do, I want to be a positive influence on the lives of everyone I meet," she said.