Dr Doraica Aponte with friend Lexi, a Standard Schnauzer.
At age six, Doraica Aponte made her career choice. Growing up on a dairy farm in Puerto Rico, she decided to follow her passion and love for animals by becoming a veterinarian.
Doraica did not know then she would have to leave her Caribbean homeland to realise her childhood dream, as there are no veterinary schools on that small island.
In 2007, the honours student completed a Bachelor of Science at the University of Puerto Rico. Having already holidayed in Australia during a summer studies-break, Doraica said she always knew she would return here.
'However, I never knew I would be returning to complete veterinary science studies', Dr Aponte said from the country Victorian veterinary practice where she now works.
'I had never lived overseas. It was very different here; I'd never lived in a city. I grew up in the mountains of Puerto Rico and had never used public transport', she said.
A US citizen, Doraica said she chose to study veterinary science here instead of in the US because Australia seemed more exciting and a greater place for adventure 'on the other side of the world'.
In 2008, Doraica began studies at the University of Sydney, completing her Bachelor of Veterinary Science in 2012—again with honours.
In 2013, she was granted a Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa for individuals in key occupations in medium- to long-term need in Australia. This visa is a permanent, points-tested visa for high-calibre people who do not have a sponsor.
This program is competitive. Invitations to apply for the 189 visa are based on the highest points scores in each occupation contained in the Skilled Occupations List.
Doraica said she was very surprised her visa application was granted so quickly.
'Two months after lodging my application, I had an answer. However, some friends from Russia, the US and elsewhere told me it has taken 'forever' to get a response.
'I did all the paperwork; everything—on my own; I did not have to pay for an agent.'
Doraica has found the adventure and travel opportunities she hoped for in Australia. 'In my six years here, I have seen a lot of Australia, both through (work) placements and by travelling with friends and family', she said.
Doraica has travelled its length and breadth including all the way up the east coast to Townsville, in Queensland; to Western Australia, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island, and even drove the 900 kilometres from Sydney to Melbourne to secure a job in Victoria.
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