It’s been a long time coming, but students in one of the more popular programs at Gaston College in Dallas have a brand new “Taj Mahal” of a facility. The facilities that students have used for the past 16 years were, about a third of the size of the new building, located off-campus and far from modern.  

“Our students were spread out over three different buildings before,” Cortney Barkley-Postell, one of the veterinary technology instructors said. “Now we’re all in one place which is wonderful.”

Construction on the 15,665 square foot building began in December 2018, according to a press release. Project completion, scheduled for early 2020, was delayed slightly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new facility includes an administrative area with two offices, a work room, and a student area that comprises one general and one computer classroom that will accommodate 56 students each and a student lounge/break room/locker room area. In addition, the front building area features a reception area, three exam rooms, a cat condo and a cat exercise area. The back-building area includes a treatment area, oxygen tank storage room, two surgery suites, a pack scrub room, radiology, interior dog runs, an exercise yard, a pharmacy area, food prep/laundry areas, a large training lab and receiving and storage areas.  

The college has a relationship with Gaston County Animal Control which provides the animals that students use in the program. They’re housed at the new facility and each group of students is assigned to an animal that they socialize and work with throughout the week. Because they’ve been so well socialized, many get adopted through the shelter. 

“When we started this whole process several years ago, they asked us to design our ‘Taj Mahal’ of a vet tech building,” Barkley-Postell said. “We didn’t get quite that, but it’s close. We’re really happy to be here.” 

In August 2019, the Gaston College Foundation launched a brick campaign to encourage community support for the Vet Tech building project. Donors to the campaign were asked to purchase bricks for use in the sidewalk in front of the building. For a contribution of $250, the bricks would be inscribed with the donor’s name and/or brief message. Some benefactors also sponsored rooms in the vet tech building. Overall, the Foundation has raised more than $35,000 to supplement funding received from the state of North Carolina. 

“I am so incredibly grateful to the community and the College for their support of our program,” Melanie Skinner, director of Veterinary Technology said in a press release. “I have been extremely touched by the number of people who have contributed their time and their money to our program.” 

Each year since 2017, BestColleges.com has ranked the Gaston College Veterinary Medical Technology program as the 14th best in the United States. 

“Our vet tech program has consistently been ranked as among the top programs in the United States,” Dr. John Hauser, President of Gaston College said in a press release. “We are excited that this new building will give our students the opportunity to learn and train in a state-of-the-art facility that will expand our program’s effectiveness.” 

The Gaston College Veterinary Medical Technology program is accredited by the American Veterinary Medicine Association Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities. The accreditation must be renewed every six years, and typically a site team visits the facility for two days. 

The Gaston College Veterinary Medical Technology program trains individuals to assist veterinarians in preparing animals, equipment, and medications for examination and surgery, collecting specimens, performing laboratory, radiographic, anesthetic, and dental procedures; assisting in surgery and providing proper husbandry of animals and their environment. Graduates of the program earn an Associate of Applied Science degree and are eligible to take the National Veterinary Technician Exam and the State Licensing Examination given by the N.C. Veterinary Medical Board. Veterinary Technicians have a skill set equivalent to that of Registered Nurses who treat human patients. For more information about the Veterinary Medical Technology program, contact Melanie Skinner at skinner.melanie@gaston.edu or 704-922-6393.

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