In the middle of the Persian Gulf, aboard the nearly 1,100-foot-long USS Carl Vinson, it was unclear Tovah Yenna was preparing for her dream of becoming a veterinarian.
Now a sophomore in veterinary medicine at Washington State University, she uses the perseverance the military instilled in her to accept failure when it happens and not look back.
“I’ve always been a stubborn, tenacious person, but the military taught me that you’re stronger than you think you are,” Yenna said. “It taught me that you can’t let a bad day hold you back; you can’t let a failed test or a bad lab day or a patient knock you down and keep you from getting back up.
Attributing much of her resilience to her time as an Aircraft Structures Mechanic (AME 2) in the US Navy during the Iraq War, Yenna often worked 16-hour days securing ejection seats for the fleet of aircraft. twin-engined EA-6B Prowlers used. to jam enemy radars were usable in an emergency.
Nearly two decades later and after four years of active duty, two years in the reserve and two deployments to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, Yenna, 41, feels well prepared for the flows and academic reflux from WSU’s competitive Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Medicine course.
“When you find that wall, whatever it is, you just have to walk through it; this is how the military works,” Yenna said. “Sometimes it’s going to be tough, but you’re going to have to go through this and know that this moment isn’t going to define the rest of my life or my career.”
Academically, Yenna seeks to channel that resilience even after her time at WSU is over. The president of the veterinary class of 2025 plans to pursue a three-year residency in radiology after graduation.
“I fell in love with radiology in the 90s at my first veterinary hospital, when we had darkrooms and you had to wait while your films were developed,” Yenna said. “I loved seeing what was going on inside. The x-rays looked so mysterious and I wanted to learn how to interpret them.
Yenna said the relationships with students, faculty and staff at the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine are reminiscent of the close ties she forged in the military.
Even when she hasn’t spoken with one of her military friends in years, she knows they will always answer her call and lend an ear or a hand when the phone rings.
“I know it’s the case in the vet world because I’ve seen it,” Yenna said.
Yenna said that no matter what you do for a living, she’s learned that it’s important to find the positives.
On the carrier, Yenna found these to be sunrise, sunset, flying fish and breakfast with friends – by far the best meal served on the ship.
On the Palouse, those bright spots would always include sunrise and sunset, as well as her husband, Brian; his three children, Gavri’el, Levi and Temperance; and her alpine goats, which she raises on the family farm just outside Pullman.
Like the military, her children have also helped her become more resilient.
“My kids prepared me by teaching me about patience and the benefits of clear communication,” Yenna said. “They toughened me up and taught me to slow down and accept that some chaos is inevitable.