Oozing with sisterly pride, Cindy Huggins, a teacher at Destin Elementary School gushes over her little sister, Dr. Lori Wise.
Visiting from Colorado, Wise made a surprise, special appearance at Destin Elementary May 30 for a special presentation.
"I'm totally in awe of her, she's amazing," said Huggins.
When most children are dreaming of what they want to be when they grow up they change their minds a dozen or more times, but Huggins and Wise chose their ideal careers when they were students at Destin Elementary School.
"I knew when I was in fifth-grade that I wanted to be a teacher," said Huggins. "So it's kind of ironic that I teach fifth-grade now."
While Huggins chose a career in education, Wise decided early on that her calling was veterinary medicine.
After receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) with honors from the University of Florida, Wise's career path led her to Colorado State University where she completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery.
From there, she moved to California where she achieved board-certification in the early '90s before practicing at the West Los Angeles Veterinary Medical Group. After her time working in LA at the clinic, she returned to Colorado to work at the Denver Veterinary Specialists clinic, which was later renamed the Wheat Ridge Veterinary Specialists.
After being at the Wheat Ridge clinic for only four years, Wise became a partner in the clinic in '94 and has remained on staff for almost two decades. Wheat Ridge is a 24-hour; emergency clinic for animals of all shapes, sizes and colors.
Wise is one of 25 veterinary partners at the hospital in Colorado.
"I enjoy all areas of internal medicine," Wise said. "But I focus largely on diabetes mellitus, renal disease and immune disorders."
As Wise spoke to the group of students in the multi-purpose room, tiny hands flew up with questions for the vet: "What is the weirdest thing you've seen an animal do? What is your favorite animal?"
The sisters are true Emerald Coast natives; growing up in Destin, even spending their summers working aboard the many charter boats that line the docks.
"We both graduated from Fort Walton Beach High School and went to Destin Elementary," Huggins said. "We walked to school everyday when we were in elementary school because we lived so close to the school (Benning Drive)."
Wise told The Log that she is proud of what she and her sister have accomplished.
"We don't go to work because we have to, we go to work because we love what we do," Wise said.
"We grew up playing teacher and veterinarian," said Huggins. "We achieved our goals."