Just three years ago, Kirstin Irwin was starting as a receptionist at her local veterinary practice.
Today, she’s a working veterinary nurse and has been crowned student of the year.
Having been crowned the Final Year Student of the Year at Huntingdon’s College of Welfare, Kirstin, who moved to the town just before she finished school in Leighton Buzzard, will collect her award at a ceremony on November 25.
She said: “My mum always said that since I could talk I’ve wanted to work with animals.
“I got the receptionist job with Vets4Pets to try get my foot in the door.
“I started there in 2014 and always knew I wanted to be working out the back.
“I didn’t think this would all happen so quickly.”
Kirstin was sponsored by Vets4Pets to take a veterinary nursing qualification, and started her studies in September 2015.
An advocate of a ‘hands-on’ approach to learning, she benefited from training on the job, with the team in Buckingham, and attended classes on Thursdays.
She added: “When I finished school I was looking at going to university, but decided it wasn’t for me.
“I’ve received more experience than I would have done if I went straight to studying.
“It’s a really good pathway and Buckingham Vets4Pets have been so supportive, they’re truly amazing.”
The student nurse beat 40 of her classmates to be awarded top student, but was competing against a total student body of approximately 150.
When she received the news on October 9, Kirstin was initially surprised but was soon jumping in the air and high-fiving Buckingham Vets4Pets manager Michael Doherty.
He said: “Kirstin is a modest girl and not one to blow her own trumpet, but she’s seriously performed amazingly well to win student of the year.
“She has excelled in this profession and is loved by all her clients and their pets.”
In her time at Vets4Pets, Kirstin has worked with “so many” different animals, from injured snakes to rescued African civets.
She said: “The best feeling is when an animal that comes to us really poorly, and might not make it home, makes a full recovery.
“Pets are part of people’s families at the end of the day, so we do our best to help them all.”
Although she plans to stay with her “incredible” team in Buckingham, Kirstin holds lofty ambitions, to work at a zoo or to travel to Africa to work in lion conservation.
To keep up to date with the work that Vets4Pets do, head to their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BuckinghamVets4Pets