AMES, Iowa - When fourth-year Iowa State University veterinary medical student Lacey Schmidt flew to Orlando, Fla., for the North American Veterinary Conference earlier this month, she had much on her mind.
She was worrying about her car that had recently broken down while driving to job interviews in Detroit and Chicago. Schmidt was also preparing for another interview in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. And she was getting ready to job-network with other veterinary professionals at the annual conference.
All this was on top of the commitment that Schmidt had made to be Iowa State's contestant in the Purina Nestle College Challenge competition at the conference.
Schmidt didn't let her busy schedule distract her from focusing on the quiz-style Purina Nestle competition.
Schmidt was pitted against 20 of the best veterinary students from around the country.
Four days of intense competition later, Schmidt had won second place and had come within one question of winning the whole thing.
"It was very fun," said Schmidt of the four-day challenge. "But definitely very nerve racking."
A University of Missouri student got first place.
By finishing so well, Schmidt earned $2,000 for herself and another $2,000 for Iowa State's student chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Schmidt's second place is the best any ISU student has done in the grueling test of veterinary know how.
"The competition is extremely tough," said Dr. Dan Christian, Nestle Purina director of professional communications. "Each year we hope for even higher standards of intellect, veterinary knowledge, and, most of all, fun competition between representatives from all of the schools."
It was a long trip for the Marathon native, but Schmidt was glad to represent ISU.
"Honestly, I was a little nervous," said Schmidt. "But I was really happy I got to represent Iowa State - one of the best vet schools in the nation."
As for the prize money, Schmidt thinks she'll put it towards buying a car.