Top vet.

Erica Feiste '03 has always loved animals, especially horses, and wanted to be a veterinarian since childhood. That love of horses led her to Hollins, where she rode all four years. "Once I stepped on Front Quad, I knew that's where I wanted to be," she says. "I didn't see the barn until later, and that was the icing on the cake for me."

Growing up in Abingdon, Virginia, Feiste had known about champion equestrian Parris Cozart Collins '93. Early on, Feiste knew that she wanted to attend Hollins. "I never seriously considered anywhere else," she says.

The strong science program and the size of the school were bonuses. "Everything about my experience at Hollins was wonderful. I had fantastic, supportive faculty. The classes were small enough that people knew who I was. There were four people in my microbiology class. As a result, my professors really knew me when they wrote my letters of recommendation."

After graduation, Feiste went on to North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. Since then she has practiced emergency medicine for small animals with Affiliated Animal Care, which has offices in both Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. Twice named "top veterinarian," by Hampton Roads Magazine in 2007 and by Virginia Living in 2011, Feiste also is a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, which licenses her to practice in the United Kingdom. Recently she established the Feiste Biology Student Research Fund at Hollins to support independent student projects in the biology department.

Note: Erica is wearing a necklace designed by Emily Wheat Maynard '00, also profiled in this series.