Hi there Julie – or Jolly Jules (as Dad would call you – very annoying).

Keep going with your life-long (well from aged 10 until now when you are 16) aim to be a vet! Don’t give up as it may well be possible that you get into Glasgow Vet School. School said languages were your best subjects but animals have always been your passion. Don’t focus too much on horses though as they attack you from both ends while administering veterinary care. Cattle and sheep are generally, although not always, safer to deal with. As an Ayrshire lass you will gain great experience in handling dairy cattle in particular as you “see practice” with famous local vets. Forget the make-up. Mascara and lipstick just doesn’t work with pregnancy diagnosis of cows by rectal examination. After a while at this activity, foundation is not really required anyway due to a light smattering of biological materials on the face. Give up being a vegetarian now – you can’t order a cheese salad on a farm in the Hebrides, nor in the Serengeti working with the Maasai – you will find this out, I promise you! You won’t have heard of vegans yet, but you will, and you may well have to help in supporting livestock products as part of a healthy and balanced diet. I know you only want to be a veterinary practitioner at this stage of your life but you should keep your mind open to other opportunities which may come your way. Teaching, research, and strategy development in livestock science may well be your thing over the coming decades. At the moment you can only see your role in the UK but vets have impact across many sectors, countries and continents. Your life is likely to be a roller-coaster and sometimes chugging uphill will be tough (be this long nights on call or negotiating budgets for research) but these times are made up for by the exhilarating twists and turns of success that follow (be this a famous and valuable dairy cow cured of left displaced abomasum through rolling, or helping in promoting a new veterinary vaccine). Take time for friends and family as we all need help and support, and try to enjoy something each day while working hard. If there is one word which I think should be your “watchword” for future life, it is 'perseverance'. It doesn’t sound very exciting but it should help you get through.

Julie (aged 59)

Julie Fitzpatrick is the Scientific Director of the Moredun Research Institute and Chief Executive of the Moredun Foundation. She also holds a Chair in Food Security in the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow.