Jacquelyn Chow

Year of Graduation: 

"When I left the Academy, I had no idea the impact it would have on me."

Jacquelyn Chow ’96, a veterinarian with a thriving practice in the heart of Austin, Texas, never harbored childhood dreams of saving animals. In fact, as a young girl she loved to read, devouring copies of The Old Man and the Sea, Moby-Dick and Crime and Punishment. “Almost all vet students wanted to be veterinarians as long as they could remember,” Chow says. “I thought I’d go into advertising or do something in the arts.”

Chow graduated the Academy with a Classical Diploma and headed to Tufts University to study English literature and anthropology. However, a new world opened up to her when she volunteered at Tufts’ Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Large Animal Neonatal ICU as part of her duties as a member of the competitive equestrian team. “One night, I had to monitor a baby moose in the neonatal clinic whose mother had died in a tragic accident and I remember thinking, ‘This is a cool experience. I think I can do this for a living.’” She never turned back.

With her husband, Dustin Zimmer, also a vet whom she met at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, Chow owns and operates BEEVET Animal Hospital. COVID-19 presented new challenges and also an unexpected boon to her 8-year-old practice, which grew by 30% over the last year.

“There was an explosion of pets during COVID-19,” Chow explains. “People were stuck at home and they adopted and bought dogs and cats, puppies and kittens.” As an essential employee, Chow kept her medical center open and offered curbside exams, vaccinations, and other wellness and medical care to her clients. “Most people don’t understand that vets are on the front line of infectious diseases,” she says. “It was very important for us to keep vaccinating pets. It was bad enough fighting a pandemic, but a rabies epidemic and other zoonotic diseases would have been dangerous.”

As a board-certified Canine and Feline Diplomate, one of 475 practicing in the world, Chow is skilled in the art and science of medicine and surgery. “People think we pet dogs all the time,” she says with a laugh. “In fact, I wear many hats. I am like an emergency room doctor, dermatologist, cardiologist, oncologist, surgeon, dentist and ophthalmologist.”

Chow finds the work so fulfilling, she takes time to mentor young people who show interest in veterinary medicine. “There are 30 vet schools in the U.S. and it is very competitive, so we start mentoring in elementary school through high school,” she says. One doctor who currently works for her is a former mentee, and she hopes to hire another mentee this fall. Chow also hosts experiential Vet-for-a-Day programs, introducing kids to the hospital and a world beyond petting cute animals.

“Last year we had a fourth grader come in for Vet-for-a-Day and it so happened that we did a bulldog C-section and she got to help deliver 13 puppies,” she says.

Exposing kids to new ideas at a critical age is Chow’s way of paying forward gifts she says she received at Exeter. She attributes her success today to the time she spent as a young person at the Academy. “When I left the Academy, I had no idea the impact it would have on me,” she says. “Now as an adult, I appreciate my years there. The diversity, the worldly exposure — I had Maya Angelou come to my English class! How cool is that?”  

This profile first appeared in the summer 2021 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.