Person of the Week
Kevin Puzycki Continues Lifelong Passion for Art & Animals
North Haven native Kevin Puzycki, a veterinarian, recently illustrated the cover for his brother Matt Puzycki’s book, Forming the Javelin. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Puzycki)
Growing up in North Haven, Kevin Puzycki always looked for ways to nurture his passion for both art and animals. He remembers spending his days asking his parents for different pets, connecting with nature outside, and then drawing while watching cartoons.
Now, Kevin has worked as a veterinarian in New Orleans for the past two years. While his professional career is focused on animals, Kevin still carries a passion for art. That passion is known by his family and when his brother Matthew E. Puzycki, was working on his first book for publication, Forming the Javelin, a family conversation got Kevin involved as well.
“We were together at my parents during the holidays and my mom suggested I draw the cover and he and his fiancée liked the idea,” says Kevin. “We started talking about ideas and he’d send me excerpts from the book so I could have an idea of what was in his mind when he pictured the ship.”
Though Kevin’s career as a veterinarian keeps him very busy, he didn’t hesitate to help his younger brother with the project. Though Kevin was excited to work on the project, the reality of what was created didn’t hit him until he saw the finished product.
“He’s always done so much for me and supported me and my dreams of going to vet school,” says Kevin. “I was honored to have him ask me and now that it’s out there, it’s pretty cool that he wrote it and I illustrated the cover. When I came home for Christmas, it was surreal to feel the book in your hand and look at it. When it actually manifests to a physical copy, it’s a different experience. I’m very proud.”
As he progressed through North Haven schools, Kevin took every opportunity to take art classes he could find. In high school, one of his teachers even recommended him to a workshop with a professional sculptor in which he learned new techniques and culminated with an art show.
When it came time to attend college, Kevin knew he had to focus on animals or art. While he continued to take art classes for electives at Albertus Magnus, he chose to major in biology with a goal of going to veterinary school.
“I always thought experience was the best route and after some volunteering and working, I knew I wanted to do something in vet medicine,” says Kevin.
Before he was old enough to work, his father would drive him to volunteer at The Animal Haven. As soon as he was able to, Kevin got a job as a veterinary technician and then at a pet lodge. He then became a tech assistant at Ridge Hill Veterinary Hospital.
By the time he was enrolled at Albertus Magnus, Kevin was working at the emergency veterinary hospital in New Haven. He took classes in the morning and then worked the 3 to 11 p.m. shift in order to get as much experience as he could.
With competition to get into veterinary school being very tough, Kevin opened up his mind to a less traditional option. He applied to St. George’s University in Grenada.
“There are only about 25 vet schools in the United States and half of the seats go to in-state students,” says Kevin. “With no schools in Connecticut, the process is very rigorous. Going to school abroad was a scary decision, but it was worth it.”
Kevin notes that the School of Veterinary Medicine at St. George’s University is accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association and is “just like going to school in the U.S.” One difference, though, was that Kevin was able to take his homework to a tropical beach just a four-minute walk away.
While there were certainly benefits to going to college on a tropical island, including the beach and year-round warm weather, Kevin found that he came to appreciate some thing about his hometown of North Haven even more than before.
“There are so many things that you just can’t get on the island,” says Kevin. “Everything has to be shipped there, so even things like lettuce and milk may run out by the end of the week. The experience really helped open my eyes.”
Kevin didn’t go to Grenada alone, though. He had adopted a cat while in North Haven and the cat accompanied him to grad school. While he was there, he realized that one of his favorite island dogs didn’t have a home and decided to adopt him as well.
When Kevin moved to New Orleans to complete his residency at Louisiana State University, he moved back to the United States with his two rescue pets. Now Kevin works for a non-profit veterinary practice in New Orleans, noting that he feels his work has “more value” and he is proud of the work he does. He also enjoys sharing his work on his Instagram page, @Dr.Kevin_thevet.
Now that Kevin is getting settled into his career, he is looking to find more time for his hobbies again. He has always enjoyed horseback riding and hopes to get involved with that again now that his schooling is complete.
Kevin also has an art room and in addition to working on the project for his brother, he continues to dabble in a variety of mediums, including acrylics and watercolors. He and his neighbor recently participated in a local artwork, showcasing their work in a booth.
“It was a great way to get the nerves out and it went really well,” says Kevin. “It’s a big thing to put your art out there.”
Though Kevin is enjoying the temperate climate in New Orleans, he hasn’t ruled out returning to North Haven, ideally just for the summer months as he “hates the cold.” Kevin loved growing up in North Haven and the experiences he had with both art and animals. Even though Kevin had never considered illustrating books in the past, now that he has, he is looking forward to more, noting he should be able to work on at least two more covers.
“Matt’s book is a trilogy so there will at least be two more,” says Kevin. “Ever since I was in 1st- or 2nd grade, art has always been my favorite thing. There’s something about being creative and letting your mind go. If I didn’t become a vet, I would’ve done something with art.”
Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .