Animals have always been a big part of Katie Ridgway’s life. From the time she was little, Katie always had cats, dogs and horses around to play with, cuddle alongside and ride.
Now as she enters her first semester at Rutgers University, she hopes to turn her love for animals into a career as a veterinarian and specifically an equine veterinarian.
“My mom has always been involved with horses while I was growing up. My family, my sisters, we all were. It’s kind of just the way things were around here,” Katie said. “I initially wanted to be in the medical field, but I want to work with animals because I can connect better with them. I’ve been working with them my whole life, and it’s something I feel passionate about.”
Anyone who trains or has been around horses knows that these majestic animals are more than your typical pet. Caring for them requires tremendous dedication, hard work and love.
For many, including Katie, working on a horse farm isn’t simply a hobby—it’s a way of life. While it will certainly be difficult for her to leave her family and friends behind as she heads off to New Brunswick this fall, saying goodbye to her 10-year-old horse, Ayla, and her family’s six other horses won’t be simple either. She’s eager for her college career to begin but like any incoming freshman, she has plenty of nerves as well.
“I’ve got all sorts of feelings,” Katie said with a laugh. “I’m excited to go, but I’m nervous too because I’ll really be on my own for the first time.”
Thankfully for her, Katie not only has her family to fall back on for support but each of her fellow Forman Scholars and staff of the Forman S. Acton Educational Foundation as well. Even before heading off to school this fall, she’s spoken with a number of them about their college experiences, what to expect and how to make the transition to college life easier. It’s all a part of what the Forman Scholars community is all about. And it’s already making life after Salem High School that much easier.
“When we had the Scholars Dinner, I forget who it was that said it, but they were talking about study habits. They said don’t always just study in your room, go study in the library or other places, so you’re not just focused in one spot,” Katie recalled. “Don’t always study by yourself because you can get help from your other classmates or other people. You can get a different view of things that way. I thought that advice was really helpful.”