Shirley Paul

Volleyball Player Sets Sight on Vet School

On the volleyball court, junior Shirley Paul wears a different color jersey to set her apart as the best defender on the team. Paul is a libero, a key defensive specialist, on the University of St. Thomas women’s volleyball team. See a video about Paul’s experience as a volleyball player.

Despite competing in a demanding sport, Paul still finds time to tackle her heavy academic workload, volunteer with the Houston SPCA and spend time with her family. In everyday life, Shirley might as well wear the different color jersey – she stands out among the crowd.

Paul originally began her career at UST as an international studies major, but after her first semester decided to pursue something close to her heart.

“Usually people leave biology to pursue something else, but I decided to switch over into the Pre-Veterinary Program,” Paul said.
While students in the Pre-Veterinary Program are required to take animal nutrition and scientific writing courses elsewhere, the program at UST prepares students to be competitive in applying to veterinary school.

“It would be another four years of school,” Paul said. “The first three years are more study while the last is usually a residency where you specialize in what you would like to pursue. The schools are very selective, though.”

Originally from League City, Texas, Paul’s love of animals and volleyball runs deep. Paul has been playing volleyball since the fourth grade on both school and club teams. She finds life’s challenges easier to navigate with the athletic pressure.

“I actually prefer school during volleyball season because I have a set schedule,” Paul said. “I have practice and class and all the rest of the time you need to be studying.”

Her practice and ability to thrive under pressure has garnered recognition as Libero of the Week in the Red River Athletic Conference, being named to the Southwestern University All-Tournament team as well as the Second Team All-Conference in the RRAC. She also helped lead her team to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Tournament this November, where the Celts lost in the opening round.

The discipline that Paul has learned through volleyball permeates other aspects of her life and has helped shape her into a focused young woman.

In the volleyball offseason, Paul volunteers with the Houston SPCA, one of the largest animal shelters in the city. After several years of volunteering with the organization, in the spring she will begin to shadow a veterinary technician to get invaluable hands-on experience.

Paul is preparing to take the GRE over the summer and will begin the application process for veterinary school. How her jersey makes her stand out on the volleyball court, her discipline in the classroom will help her excel as a veterinarian.

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