2019 AETA Scholarship Winner Report: Makayla Hawbaker

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Published on: January 3, 2020

I wanted to start by giving my sincerest thanks to the AETA scholarship committee for selecting me to be one of the scholarship recipients for the 2019 AETA & CETA/ACTE Joint Annual Convention in Colorado Springs. I was honored to have the opportunity to attend and to learn from experts in the field from all over the United States and Canada.

One of the most rewarding parts of the conference was interacting with the other members and exhibitors. I learned so much from our conversations and made some great connections for mentorship and future externships. Honestly, it felt as though I had been invited to a big family reunion, and everyone made me feel welcome. It was a privilege to get to know the other students in attendance and to form friendships with individuals who will one day be my colleagues.

My goal for attending the conference was to learn more about advanced reproduction, its challenges, and what the future of the industry looks like. Unlike many other conferences, I appreciated that this conference was geared toward both beginners and experts in the field. I have been to conferences in which the material was way over my head and directed more toward people who are already in practice. AETA was different in that the information was geared toward those new to the industry and wanting to learn, whether they were still a student or had been in practice five, ten, or fifteen years, or more.

I enjoyed the student sessions and the hands-on experience that we got thawing and staging embryos under the microscope. I appreciated the wide array of topics that were discussed at the conference, everything from dairy cattle to horses and small ruminants. There was truly something for everyone at this meeting. I learned valuable information about the effects of nutrition on oocyte quality and general reproduction of cattle. I appreciated that this information was applicable to everyone and can be used in general practice, since this is important for reproduction success even if a client doesn’t intend to utilize the advanced reproductive techniques that are out there. I also learned about the importance of managing the donors and recipients to give yourself the best odds of having a successful collection and pregnancy. One thing that I found fascinating was the differences in freezing and success rates seen between the different breeds of cattle.

In addition to attending the meetings, I met many of the exhibitors and made some great connections for externships and learned about the technology that is out there to assist with advanced reproduction.

I can’t thank you all enough for giving me the opportunity to attend the AETA convention. I had a great time and met some wonderful people who really made me feel welcome. I appreciate everyone who went out of their way to talk to the students, ask questions, and mentor us. I look forward to working with some of you in the future through externships, and I hope to see many of you again at future conventions.

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