Hear Me Roar
August 2021 Issue
Photography (above) by Mike Force Photography
Hear Me Roar
Lisa Ryan, DVM
Owner, Coastal Cat Clinic
St. Simons Island, GA
What brought you to Coastal Georgia? My first job out of vet school with Dr. Rossiter brought us here. After having gone to school on a Caribbean island, I knew I had to be near the water. My husband and I both grew up in St Mary’s County, Maryland, and I was born in Bethlehem, PA. As it turned out, my husband actually spent a year or two here way back when and had gone to St Simons Elementary when his dad was stationed in Brunswick.
What was it like going to school in St. Kitts? Attending Ross University on St. Kitts was the most incredible time of my life. Besides acquiring an invaluable veterinary education from instructors and professors from around the world, I was given a personal life-changing education. I left family, friends and a lifestyle I was used to and entered into a culture and society that was completely foreign to me. When I first arrived, I was so scared and never felt more alone. By the time my two years were completed, I was crying while boarding that American Airline flight back to the US for my clinicals at Oklahoma State University. I was leaving a place that enabled me to find myself and knowing what I was actually capable of becoming—a very strong woman. I experienced many different events that have made me who I am today, and so, besides my veterinary education, more importantly for me was my personal growth. I have never regretted Ross University/St. Kitts being my first choice for veterinary school.
When did you first know you wanted to specialize in feline medicine? I have been in veterinary medicine all my life; I started cleaning kennels as soon as I could get my work permit at 14 years old. I honestly never paid a lot of attention to cats, as in veterinary medicine 40 years ago you did not see a lot of cats brought into the hospitals. My husband convinced me to get our first cat when we started dating. I discovered how unique and overlooked they had been in medicine (that was in 1986). Once I started school to become a licensed veterinary technician (1989) is when I knew this was my area of interest.
We understand you have several pets at home. Tell us about them. I obviously have a few cats (indoor only), and we don’t need to discuss how many!
I have one adorable smaller dog—”Skip”, one 26-year-old African Grey Parrot—“Xena”. I’ve had her since she was 6 weeks old. And, we have a few chickens.
If your pets could talk, what do you think they would say? The Cats: “Give us more Temptation treats, and let’s all go take a nap!” (O.K.— “I” said the nap part.)
What advice would you give to women thinking of starting their own business? Be willing to compromise, be flexible and to sacrifice a few things. It will not go as you planned. Keep the end goal always in site. Although, probably not popular to say, I do not believe that “we can have it all.” That is unrealistic and exhausting. Decide what you want the most, and then do it!
What is the best advice you’ve received? I remind myself daily of the best advice I have received: To choose carefully and pick the “battles” that I pursue. It has taken me a long time to realize I do not have to be right at everything, or prove my point. Sometimes being quiet speaks volumes!
What was your favorite book as a child? The Owl and the Pussycat and later all of James Herriot’s books (of course!).
One thing on your bucket list is…to see the Aurora Borealis.
What is something about you that would surprise people: I don’t think anything about me would surprise the people who know me, but “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley is the only song I don’t screw up the words.
I always feel better when…I am in the ocean snorkeling.
To hear me ROAR means: If I ROAR it usually means someone did not understand/hear/or appreciate my feelings on topics that are important to me. Telling me the word “NO” or “It Can’t Be Done” only motivates me.
I’m currently ROARING about: Being kind to each other right now! The nastiness and impatience with each other has to stop, and we must work together if we are to have a better future and society.