Interview by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04 Ph.D. | Photo by Henry Moore Jr.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
From as long as I can remember, I have loved animals. Growing up, my family lived mostly in the suburbs. We had a dog, but I would not have considered them “animal” people. When I was 9 years old, I started riding horses. I bought my first horse when I was 12 years old from money I’d saved mowing lawns in the summer. I knew then that I would be a veterinarian.
After I earned a bachelor of science degree in microbiology from Washington State University, I applied to several veterinary schools. Applying to veterinary school was, and still is, extremely competitive, and I did not get in right away. So, I worked for several years for a pharmaceutical company in Seattle on the research and development side. I volunteered at Woodland Park Zoo working with lemurs, gorillas, and orangutans while living and working in Seattle. After several failed attempts to get into veterinary school, I returned to WSU to earn a second degree in natural resource science. I applied again to veterinary school and was accepted at WSU.
Can you share a little about your career since you graduated from WSU?
My true passion was always horses, and I wanted to be a large animal veterinarian. But life has a way of going down paths you would have never thought of. I met my husband in my second year of veterinary school and we got married the week before graduation. He told me from the get go that he was a farmer and he would never leave the area, so love being the way it is, I was happy to stay. I started working in a mixed animal practice in Lewiston and loved the work. Unfortunately, once I was pregnant it was not recommended that I pull calves and palpate horses, so I decided to focus more on small animal medicine and surgery. From then on, I was committed to be a small animal veterinarian.
I practiced for 10 years in the private sector, mostly with small animals and exotics. I loved working in private practice, but in 2012, I had an opportunity to take a different direction in my career. I joined the Office of the Campus Veterinarian here at WSU as a clinical veterinarian for all WSU owned animals. I am extremely fortunate to work for WSU in the position. Every day is quite unique not only in what we see and do, but the range of species we get to work with from the grizzly bears to the tiny mouse. I began my career in my mind at an early age, wanting to be just like James Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small. Now at the peak of my career, I have a small piece of that vision that I live every day.
How did your degree in microbiology help shape your career?
Science was always my favorite topic in high school, so when I got to WSU as an undergraduate, I gravitated to a microbiology degree. The course work included genetics, biochemistry, immunology, virology, physiology, parasitology, and anatomy to name a few. All classes I knew would help prepare me for veterinary school. I also knew that a degree in microbiology would prepare me for other career options such as being a medical technologist or a research assistant, working in the food industry, or applying to graduate school. Having options was always in the back of my mind for my career, and a microbiology degree had a wide variety of career options and I had a passion for the course work, so it was a good fit. My professors (Drs. Paznokas, Mallavia, and Magnuson) at the time were like family to our close-knit group of students.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
I take two to three weeks of vacation every August from my position at WSU to drive combine for our family farm in Moscow. I love harvest, my daughter and I are in one combine and my son drives the other. My nephew runs the bank out wagon, and my husband follows behind us and fixes whatever falls apart or we break as we go. It is an amazing time for our family; we are up early every day, working together, talking on radios for 14 to 16 hours a day. These are times I will cherish all my life.
Is there anything you wish you could do over in your education or career?
Looking back over my life, I have been extremely fortunate. My parents planned and saved money for my brother and I to go to college as they did (they were first generation college graduates). We were a middle-class family and saving money for our education was important. I was able to attend four years as an undergraduate student at WSU debt free (I worked also in the summers). Looking back, this was an amazing “gift,” a high-quality bachelor’s degree in microbiology and starting off debt free. So, if I had to change anything in my education, I would say “I wouldn’t change a thing!” Everything in my education and life has lead me to this point and I am so grateful to be where I am, “Go Cougs”
Six Facts About Dr. Gay Lynn Clyde
Hometown: Richland, Washington
Degrees: Bachelor of Science (’91 microbiology), Bachelor of Science (’99 natural resource sciences), Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (’03), all obtained from WSU
Pets: Border collie cross dog named “Bear,” numerous cats, two ponies (“Solomon,” “Iris”), one horse (“Star”), two chickens (“May,” “June”)
Hobbies: Tennis, gardening, and all my animals
Favorite book: All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
Family: Married 14 years to a fifth generation wheat farmer. We have two children; a 13-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter.