ONE of the shining stars among graduates from Alexandria Christian Academy, Francois Olivier is excelling as a young veterinarian in Beaufort West.
Currently doing his compulsory community service, Olivier spent the past seven years studying at Onderstepoort at the University of Pretoria.
In his first year he was awarded the prize for highest marks in chemistry. He graduated last year and was nominated for a Golden Key award which celebrates academic excellence, as he was in the top 15% of graduates in the veterinary science faculty.
Olivier credits his school and his faith in God for giving him a stronger foundation than other students.
“I trusted people to help, God came through for me and holding onto my faith helped me to get where I am now,” he told TotT.
His father, Johan Olivier, a veterinarian based in Alexandria, also played a significant role by suggesting he become a veterinarian.
“I grew up with the profession all around me. Initially I did not want to do it, but when I saw how many options it gives you, the diversity that the degree offers drew me to it.”
His mother, Gretel Olivier, as the principal of Alexandria Christian Academy, played a big role in his academic achievements.
Olivier said the American-based curriculum, which is similar to home schooling, “prepared me for university because you have to take responsibility and do your own studying”.
“This is the first year that veterinary science graduates have been required to do a compulsory year of community service,” said Olivier.
As such he must provide a free service for those who cannot afford veterinary services in Beaufort West. He takes a mobile clinic to the townships and the people bring him sick animals, one or two cattle or sheep, but 90% are dogs and cats that need to be vaccinated against rabies, canine distemper or the parva virus.
He has a mentor, Jaco Pienaar, whom he works with and who has been a state vet for 30 years. During his community service Olivier also receives a salary from the state.
He said the favourite part of his job is being able to make a difference.
“Working with the poorer people is different to working in a private practice when you get people who care about their animals a great deal,” Olivier said.
“It is rough putting animals down.”
He said he mostly treats wounds from dog fights, broken bones from car accidents and inoculates cats and dogs against diseases.
“But it is very rewarding when you get sick animals in and you manage to get it to heal and when you send it home, the owners are grateful.”