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Making a difference: Hannah Stuchlik

Battle Ground High School student Hannah Stuchlik volunteers each week as a surgical assistant at the Humane Society of Southwest Washington while also devoting her time as a full-time student in Clark College’s Running Start program.Carolyn Schultz-Rathbun
For ClarkCountyToday.com

For the past three years, Hannah Stuchlik has volunteered as a surgical assistant at the Humane Society for Southwest Washington. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Schultz-Rathbun
For the past three years, Hannah Stuchlik has volunteered as a surgical assistant at the Humane Society for Southwest Washington. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Schultz-Rathbun

BATTLE GROUND — Hannah Stuchlik has a quotation from Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes written in grease pencil on her bedroom window: “There’s no amount of success that allows you to stop working hard.”

It’s a lesson the Battle Ground High School junior is taking to heart. A full-time Running Start student at Clark College, Stuchlik, 16, is looking to transfer, after getting her associate’s degree next year, to Washington State University in Pullman. There she has her eye on a combined Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program.

For the past three years Stuchlik has also volunteered at the Humane Society for Southwest Washington — one of 40 young men and women who have gained slots in the Humane Society’s teen volunteer program through a competitive application and interview process.

Stuchlik works as a surgery assistant, preparing and wrapping packs of instruments that will be used in surgery, cleaning intubation tubes, and washing surgical drapes. In the past she has also prepared the operating room, cared for animals coming out from under anesthesia, and given discharge instructions to owners.

“I work once a week, from 10 (a.m.) to 12 (noon),” says Stuchlik, “but I would come in every day if I could.”


Teen volunteers

Last year, 57 teen volunteers contributed 2,984 service hours to the Humane Society for Southwest Washington. For more information on the teen volunteer program, go to https://southwesthumane.org/engage/
volunteer/teen-volunteer-programs/
.


Over 8,000 animals a year pass through the local Humane Society’s doors. Most of those are dogs — Stuchlik’s favorite — and cats, but the shelter also sees some birds, goats, guinea pigs, rabbits, reptiles and rodents as well. In spite of the large number of animals on-site, Stuchlik say she has been impressed by how much attention each animal gets.

“Each dog is walked several times a day,” she says.

She’s also been impressed by how she is treated.

“Everyone is so accepting,” she says. “I thought they would say, ‘You’re a teen volunteer. You can’t do this.’ And of course there are safety rules and so on. But it’s not like that.”

Stuchlik’s desire to be a vet is based, already, on long experience.

“All my life, I’ve loved animals,” she says, “and it seems like they’ve always had medical problems. We had a dachshund with myasthenia gravis, and seizures. And she had megaesophagus. We had to hold her up (in a vertical position) for about 15 minutes after she ate, and massage her throat to help the food go down. And we spent a lot of time at the vet. And there was this one vet. Dr. Tegarden. And I was like, ‘I wanna be just like her when I grow up.’”

Hannah Stuchlik's duties at the Humane Society of Southwest Washington include preparing and wrapping packs of instruments that will be used in surgery. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Schultz-Rathbun
Hannah Stuchlik’s duties at the Humane Society of Southwest Washington include preparing and wrapping packs of instruments that will be used in surgery. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Schultz-Rathbun

Stuchlik has had a chance in more recent years to tell her exemplar the impact she’s had on her life. On top of a full load of college classes and her weekly volunteer work, Stuchlik also works 25 hours a week at Alder Creek Veterinary Clinic in Battle Ground — the clinic where Dr. Jacki Tegarden works. There Stuchlik helps with the animals — restraining animals, performing bandage changes — and is training to be a receptionist.

But that’s not all. She’s also a member of the HOSA, a future health professionals club at Battle Ground High School.

Last year, her first in HOSA, she placed second in the state in the HOSA Veterinary Science competition, which covers knowledge on a variety of subjects including anatomy and physiology, principles of surgery, zoonotic diseases — that is, diseases that can be transmitted from animals to people, nutrition, and veterinary careers. This year, she placed first in the state, and will be traveling to Florida in June to compete at the HOSA International Leadership Conference in Orlando.

Last year, 57 teen volunteers contributed 2,984 service hours to the Humane Society for Southwest Washington. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Schultz-Rathbun
Last year, 57 teen volunteers contributed 2,984 service hours to the Humane Society for Southwest Washington. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Schultz-Rathbun

In her free time, Stuchlik enjoys spending time with her Rottweiler, Daphne, as well as with her friends. But she doesn’t have a lot of free time, and admits to being “very busy.”

“A lot of nights I don’t get home until 8:30,” she says. “And it’s like, ‘Dinner’s in the microwave.’”

But in spite of how busy her life is, Stuchlik continues to find time to volunteer.

“I know I”m making a difference,” she says. “There’s always so much to do. But even if it’s just doing laundry, it’s important to the animals. And I know it’s making a difference.”

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