Meeting with Jack Hanna inspires teen to follow dream of helping animals

DUBLIN, OH (WCMH) — A promise from Central Ohio’s top animal advocate pushed a young boy from Morgan County to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian.

Like any young boy, 16-year-old Darrian Hill had dreams of becoming a doctor, or a firefighter. But, he has always been drawn toward helping animals.

And when Hill was just 9-years-old, he met Jack Hanna.

“Came up to the zoo. Met him and stuff. I looked up to him a lot,” said Hill.

Hill said meeting “Jungle Jack,” and visiting the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium as a little boy sparked his interest in helping animals.

But his decision to make a career out of it came from watching TV. “Years and years ago when they used to play those sad commercials about dogs and stuff, I looked at that and I was like, I’m gonna be a vet!”

That’s the message Hill had for Hanna at their first meeting. But, Hanna had a message for Hill, too.

“‘We want well-rounded people,” Hanna told Hill. “Don’t go just straight through school and just do all school. Do other things like volunteer… You know, clean kennels if you have to.”

Hill said he knows the path to becoming a vet wouldn’t be easy, but he has taken Hanna’s message to heart. “You don’t get very much down time. But it’s very rewarding at the end of the day.”

Now, at just 16-years-old, Hill is working as an intern at Rascal Animal Hospital in Dublin, and will receive his high school diploma, as well as an Associate’s Degree in Applied Sciences next year.

He said the time and effort is worth it. “You definitely have to love animals. That’s one thing. You can’t go into this and not do; it’s like being a doctor and hating people.”

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