Thank you so much to the Targeting Excellence Sponsors, Board and Committees. Your continued support of students in animal agriculture helps us achieve our goals and prepare for a rewarding career in the industry.
I am very fortunate to have found my way into animal agriculture, and am working towards my career goal of becoming a food animal veterinarian. I was 13 when I touched a cow for the first time. Growing up in Baltimore, I did not encounter many large ruminants. During the summer of 2011, I attended “farm camp” on a small working dairy in central Pennsylvania and found a practical focus for my lifelong interest in animals. During subsequent summers, I learned how to milk, assist with calvings, administer medications and perform many aspects of dairy management. These experiences helped me find my passion within veterinary medicine. However, it was not always the easiest path to take. My peers and teachers at an urban, public high school questioned why I wanted to work with cows during school breaks instead of going on vacation. I found a number of strong and supportive people to act as my mentors in the dairy community. During college I challenged myself with strong animal and veterinary science curricula at Penn State. I learned inside and outside the classroom, taking classes including animal reproduction, soil science, animal genetic selection, dairy herd health, sheep and goat production and forage crop management and also pursuing internship and externship opportunities. In addition, I completed my Honors thesis research on milk fat depression in Jerseys. This experience will translate into my future career, as veterinarians are part of the research effort that is working to make animal agriculture more efficient while also having less environmental impact. I am currently a first-year veterinary student at University of California- Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Although learning through a pandemic has been difficult, I have already learned so much that I will apply in my career. My veterinary education will allow me to disseminate new ideas and help improve the efficiency and profitability of the farms that I serve. I also hope to contribute to the agriculture industry in other ways as a veterinarian. I will achieve this by helping with public education about animal agriculture. Coming from a city I have seen the disconnect between consumers and their food supply. I hope to be able to use this background to connect consumers and their farmers through educational events. One way that I was able to do this already, was working for the Calving Corner at the Pennsylvania Farm Show last year. This exhibit brings in cows that are close to calving to the Farm Show and allows visitors to watch the calving and talk to the farmer as well as dairy vets. I helped to care for the cows and educate to the public. It was so rewarding to talk to people, especially children, about where their food comes from and see peoples’ amazement as a new calf was born. This is an experience I will never forget and want to expand on during my career as a livestock veterinarian.