Jacob Malugin had to make several decisions before pursuing his collegiate career. After choosing to follow his dreams to study veterinary medicine, he chose the college that he knew was the best fit - the University of Tennessee at Martin.
“I chose UT Martin because it seemed to be the perfect place for a transition to college,” said Jacob, a senior animal science major from Culleoka. “The hands-on curriculum and the congenial disposition that the students and professors exemplify made my college experience a success that I will never forget.”
From being involved in activities such as Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi, Wildlife Society, Disaster Animal Relief Team, Pep Leader and Pre-Vet Club vice president, Jacob was surprised that he joined a Greek organization, the Kappa Psi chapter of Sigma Chi.
“I didn't think about fraternities at all when I came to college, and no one in my family has ever been Greek. But I wouldn't change it for the world. I have so many great memories from my fraternity. Sigma Chi has made me realize just how important life is, and that you only have one chance… from the inside looking out, it has provided me with substantial leadership potential and success in my educational goals.”
Through working with his adviser, Dr. Craig Darroch, professor of animal science, Jacob received an internship this past summer at 6666 Ranch, one of the most well-known ranches in the United States, established in the late 1800s in Guthrie, Texas. Owning and operating approximately 275,000 acres in West Texas, the ranch is known for breeding and owning some of the best performers in the American quarter horse industry, including award-winning stallions Dash for Cash and One Famous Eagle.
Working 10-12 hour days, six days a week, breeding of the quarter horses was Jacob’s main focus during his daily activities. Once breeding season slowed down, he would help catch mares for the veterinarians so they could monitor their reproductive status. Applying bandages, cleaning wounds, vaccinating horses and applying dewormer were also other tasks he got to perform. The most interesting thing Jacob experienced was assisting Dr. Glen Blodgett with flushing an embryo out of a mare, catching it in a sterile cup and transferring it to another mare. Occasionally, he would also get to ride with the cowboys and help them with cleaning out waters tubs and vaccinating cattle on the ranch.
His most memorable experience was getting to work with the foals, giving them medication throughout the day. “We became really attached to some of them. By the time I left, they would come up to me like a dog and nibble on my shirt or nuzzle me trying to get me to pet them.”
During their free time in the evenings, the group was able to enjoy going to the swimming pool or working out. They also got to experience some of the traditions of Texas. “We got to go to a few ranch rodeos and dances. One night, two cowboys at the rodeo got in a fight, and one got tasered. That itself made it well worth the cost of admission.”
All of the new experiences Jacob dealt with made working for 6666 Ranch a great learning experience. “The thing that I loved most about working for the ranch was that we were constantly learning something new. Each day a horse would come in with a different medical condition that we got to learn about and treat. Also, I made friends with people from different backgrounds and locations.”
Jacob has many goals set for his future, as he is applying for veterinary school for next fall. He plans on receiving his doctorate of veterinary medicine, with hopes of specializing or getting his Ph.D. He looks forward to practicing in a clinic near a ranching community in the Northwest and possibly operating his own farm with a family one day.
“Being outside accomplishing something is like therapy for me, and it's amazing to develop a trust with a horse. The bond between humans and animals has always fascinated me. It's amazing to work with a horse on a daily basis. You each grow and learn from each other to the point that it is a 50/50 friendship, which offers so many benefits and lessons of life.”