Hometown: Aliquippa, PA
School: University of Pennsylvania Vet School
Major / Species: Undergraduate- Animal Science; Professional – Food Animal Medicine
After assisting a food animal veterinarian with a difficult fetotomy and finally removing the swollen head of a stillborn calf from the cow, we sat exhausted on the barn floor. I soon realized that the cow, who had been in labor for three days before we were called, was not going to survive. With every one of the calf’s bones that I dropped into the wheelbarrow, I contemplated how this “horse girl” ended up in the food animal industry and whether our painstaking efforts made a difference in this situation. Experiences such as these have challenged me to develop my interest in veterinary medicine past the ambitions of my childhood when I wanted to become a veterinarian to simply spend my entire day with animals.
With only six years of riding lessons to my credit, I managed to convince my parents to build a barn on our property and buy me a horse. Since my parents had no experience with large animals, I was responsible for managing our horses’ care. I became involved in my county 4-H program where I developed my passion for agriculture and animal science. Through my experiences in educational 4-H events, I decided to pursue an Animal Science degree at The Pennsylvania State University. Initially, I dove into our Equine Science program, but I soon realized the narrowness of my expertise which prompted me to start at the bottom of our food animal program. In order to gain practice experiences outside of my classes, I immersed myself in the food animal industry by shadowing veterinarians, working at dairy farms and in animal nutrition laboratories, and becoming involved in food animal student organizations. While I began as the student who did not grow up on a farm and always made novice mistakes, I eventually became responsible for training new students and was selected to represent Penn State at several animal science competitions. Developing an appreciation for production animal agriculture throughout my undergraduate career, I decided to pursue career in food animal medicine.
Next fall, I will attend the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine to pursue a professional degree in food animal medicine. Considering the diverse career opportunities in this field, Iplan to begin my professional career in private practice to gain valuable practical experience and remain connected to the producers in the food animal industry. However, I would eventually like to combine my interests in medicine and research to pursue an academic career. My broad research interests are to further our understanding of metabolic diseases in cattle and use my experiences to educate future animal science professionals, veterinarians, and the public. I want to contribute to the food animal industry by serving the farmers that work long hours to feed the world while feeding their own families on the slim margin between feed costs and animal product prices. As my interests have evolved, my passion for veterinary medicine has remained and been strengthened by my desire to improve our understanding of animal health.