A Vet School Freshman at 57

After volunteer work and careers in music, real estate and farming, Craig Mullenax embarked on a new challenge.

Craig Mullenax, 57, is on track to graduate with a DVM degree in 2019.

Colorado State University

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In 1958, when Craig Mullenax was born, the United States and the Soviet Union conducted a flurry of nuclear weapons tests, Tim Tam won the Kentucky Derby, and Colorado A&M had just been renamed Colorado State University.

Fast forward 57 years and Mullenax is settling in as the oldest veterinary student in Colorado State history. Alongside 147 other freshmen, he’s immersed in learning the basics of veterinary medicine so that when he turns 61 he can embark on his fourth career.

Why now?

“There are huge needs in the world, and we need to work to address them,” Mullenax said. “That’s the most important goal.”

The son of veterinarians, Mullenax was born in Denver and grew up in Colombia and Ecuador. His world travels, specifically during volunteer work in India, taught him about serving people and animals. He also bought in to Mahatma Gandhi’s inspirational quote “Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Colorado State reported that Mullenax’s experience with subsistence farmers in India included artificially inseminating, vaccinating and deworming goats and water buffalo. He even got the chance to splint the legs of a bull severely injured in a vehicle collision.

He also witnessed the custom of sprinkling a manure and water mixture throughout a home to purify it. Naturally, the act can spread disease.

“As future veterinarians, we are going to have to accommodate these beliefs and practices,” Mullenax said. “I don’t see how we can be effective clinicians without paying attention to this bigger picture.”

Mullenax has always wanted to learn and work. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music and nonprofit administration from Northwestern University, received a master’s degree in public health, served as executive director of a symphony orchestra, spent several years in real estate investment and owned a 350-head dairy goat farm near Longmont, Colo.

He’s ready now to become a veterinarian.

“We go to school for our own gain,” he said, explaining his philosophy. “But more important, we should go for increased knowledge and talents to help people in need. We have a duty to grow our gifts and give them away, so we should all keep learning.”

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Mullenax’s enrollment in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences supports Colorado State’s diversity goals.

“Our DVM program seeks to admit cohorts of students who are well-prepared for a rigorous curriculum and also bring with them a variety of interests, experiences, backgrounds and ideas,” said Ashley Stokes, DVM, Ph.D., the assistant dean for veterinary admissions and student services. “This helps create an ideal learning environment.”

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