As a little kid, Christa Williams recalled, “I wanted to be an actress. Being a veterinarian was the backup plan.” The veterinary career fell by the wayside at “about the age when girls are told they can’t do math.”
At Carleton College, Williams did a lot of acting while majoring in religious studies. “My focus in religious studies was the connection between theater and religion,” including a research trip to Nepal. After graduating, she spent a year at the Children’s Theatre as a performing apprentice. “I realized I liked acting too much to do it as a profession,” she said.
A theater friend was going into nursing and told Williams the science and math were not really that hard. “A little light went off in my head: Maybe I do want to be a veterinarian,” Williams said. She spent several years working through the prerequisite courses that she hadn’t taken in college. “I kept taking classes, thinking, ‘Organic chemistry will be the end of this,’” she said.
Instead, she successfully completed the prerequisites and applied to the veterinary program at the University of Minnesota. “I thought, ‘I’ll never get it.’ I got in. It’s been awesome ever since.”
Williams spent 11 years at a practice in Prior Lake. Although she didn’t want a large-animal practice, she admired the relationship that the equine veterinarian had with his customers and patients. “It seemed like part of that was because he had this automatic intimacy that you get when you come to someone’s house, and you’re not wearing a white coat and being an authority figure, which happens when you’re in the clinic,” she said.
She wrote a business plan for a mobile practice and “marched around to bankers who asked, ‘How is this going to work? Can your daddy cosign? Do you have any prospects for marriage?’” Eventually, Williams said, “I found a woman banker who was great and said, ‘Why hasn’t anyone given you money for this?”
Williams started her practice at the beginning of 2012. “What I hadn’t anticipated is that there is a huge untapped need for this, in terms of people who can’t get to the vet or the pet can’t get to the vet. I have people every day who are in tears because they have been wanting to take their pet and it’s either too stressful for the pet or not possible for them. To be able to come to them is helpful. From a medical perspective, when you see them in their own environment you can learn a lot more about how that pet lives and what the challenges are.”
Where do you go from here?
When I was first starting, people would say, “Either this isn’t going to work or you’re going to need nine trucks and a franchise.” I want to be in the middle — if it’s all about me I can’t ever go to vacation or turn off my phone at night. But I can’t ever lose that relationship factor. Decisions to expand would be driven on how we can make it easier for people to take care of their pets.
Do you miss acting?
I think that I am doing what I was meant to do. What I liked about acting was that connection with something bigger than myself. This is much different and much bigger than me and a way for me to be useful and be of service. □