Growing up, Ross May only ever had one collegiate destination in mind.

The Atwater native said a number of his family members had attended and graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and May intended to follow in their footsteps.

The reality didn’t quite live up to May’s expectations and, after six unhappy months at Cal Poly, he returned home and eventually enrolled at Merced College.

“Cal Poly was the college that I’d always just wanted to go to,” May said. “I was ecstatic when I applied and got in. I got there and quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. Picking a school just because your family had gone there turned out to be not a very smart plan.

“I learned that I still had a little growing up to do, so it was nice to be able to come back home and go to Merced College.”

May graduated from Merced College in Spring 2019 with an A.S. in Animal Science and Agriculture Business and is set to begin classes at Fresno State this fall. He said his time at the College was just what he needed to find his path.

“In high school, I remember thinking I didn’t need to go to a (CC),” May said. “I guess there’s a little bit of a stigma attached to it. But I learned I wasn’t ready to just jump to a four-year school.

“I had a lot of great experiences, but what I’ve appreciated most was some really good teachers. It wasn’t just in Agriculture, either. Coming in, I hadn’t expected to have that level of teaching.”

Prompted by Professor Kim Donaher-Oh, May served as an Ag Ambassador for the College the last two years. He said he was grateful for the nudge. Being an Ag Ambassador helped May retain some of the relationships he’d developed while participating in the FFA in high school, as well as build new ones.

One such connection helped solidify what May wants to do in future.

“Professor (Nikki) Maddux suggested I talk to Dr. Jen Taylor about a possible internship,” May said. “I knew her as a veterinarian from before, but she was also the vet here at the College. I’ve gotten to ride around with her for the last two summers, doing and seeing some amazing things.

“I always thought I wanted to be a large animal vet, but never knew exactly what it entailed. Learning hands on from Dr. Taylor has shown me it’s exactly what I want to do.”

May intends to get his B.S. at Fresno State and then transfer to a veterinary school. He said he feels much more prepared as he returns to a four-year school.

“I think that I’ve learned a little about how college works and a lot about how life works,” May joked. “I definitely feel confident and ready going forward. A lot of credit for that goes to my experience at Merced College.”