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Mr Blondell, a third-year student at Massey University, said being a vet was more than just treating animals.
‘‘It’s about being an advocate for animal welfare, as it bridges the gap between humans and their animals,’’ he said.
An old boy of John McGlashan College, in Dunedin, Mr Blondell (20) wanted to be a vet from a young age, despite not coming from a rural background.
Mr Blondell, who was one of two class representatives, acknowledged the ‘‘huge’’ workload at Massey was stressful at times, although he knew it would be worth it in the end.
‘‘You kind of think you’ll get used to it . . . it kind of keeps increasing. There’s just so much to do, so much to know. At the end of the day when you graduate, there’s still so much more to know.’’
Veterinary school at Massey was steeped in tradition, including the ‘‘halfway day’’ celebration.
After two and a-half years’ study, students travelled to Taupo this year where they celebrated the milestone with activities including whitewater rafting, skydiving and fishing.
Mr Blondell, who went skydiving, said funding for the trip largely came from sales of an annual calendar, in which he featured.
Barely There has been described as a tasteful, naked calendar and 10% of proceeds this year supported Farmstrong, an initiative launched in 2015 to promote wellbeing for farmers.
The programme, a joint initiative by FMG Insurance and the Mental Health Foundation, aimed to shift the focus of mental health from depression and illness to wellbeing.
Mr Blondell was also involved in organising other fundraising events, including a quiz night and a male ‘‘beauty pageant’’ called Mr Vet.
Males were a minority at vet school; in his year, there were 100 students, 20 of whom were male, while there were only 15 or 20 men in this year’s first-year intake, out of 125.
When not studying, Mr Blondell could be found mountain biking, tramping, running or playing sports, such as volleyball and basketball, or in his indoor pursuits of guitar, cooking and sketching.
He also found time to mentor a young boy as he volunteered for Big Brother Big Sister Manawatu, an organisation that paired a ‘‘big brother or sister’’ to support vulnerable children and young adults.
He became involved in the programme last year, when he was feeling ‘‘a bit overwhelmed by the whole vet thing’’ and wanted to get away from the university and do something in the community — ‘‘give myself a bit of a break away from everything vet’’.
In his first year at Massey, he had to do farm placements and he found out he really enjoyed large animals.
He was leaning towards large animal or mixed practice, saying he did not want to be cooped up inside all day — but there was still plenty of time to decide.
Once he graduated, Mr Blondell expected to work in New Zealand for a few years before heading overseas, and later returning.
But there was nothing very specific about his plans at this stage and he wanted to keep his options open.
‘‘I might get to fifth-year and want to do specialist dairy or sheep and beef or may want to do small animals. Who knows?’’