Thank you to the Targeting Excellence Sponsors, Board and Committees. I have been passionate for animal agriculture since I was young and this award helps me get closer to pursuing a career in this field.
My career goal is to become a large animal veterinarian and to serve the dairy community. 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 convinced me that I wanted to pursue a career in food animal production within veterinary medicine. However, it was not always the easiest path to take. My peers and teachers at an urban, public 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. I also pursued internships and job shadowed in all areas of dairy management and herd health. During college, I have been fortunate to be able to challenge myself with strong animal and veterinary science curricula. I have learned inside and outside the classroom, taking classes including animal reproduction, soil science, agribusiness management, animal genetic selection, dairy herd health, comparative physiology, sheep and goat production and forage crop management and also pursuing internship and externship opportunities. In addition, I am currently investigating milk fat depression in Jerseys as part of my Honors thesis research. This is an important because milk fat is one of the most valuable components of milk and Jersey cows are becoming more popular in the US dairy herd due to their high-quality milk. Veterinarians are part of the research effort that is working to make animal agriculture more efficient while also having less environmental impact through scientific trials. While at Penn State, I have also had the opportunity to get involved in a number of clubs within the College of Agriculture. I planned to join the Dairy Science Club as soon as I came to college. Starting my freshman year, I participated in all of our club activities such as our cattle sale, the Pennsylvania Junior Dairy Show and our Holiday Cheese box sale. During my sophomore year, I was elected as the membership chair and maintained all attendance records for the club. The following year, I served as president of the Dairy Science Club, helping me improve my communication, leadership and teamwork skills, which will be invaluable as a large animal veterinarian. 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 as well as performing research. So far, I have been accepted into the veterinary school at UC Davis and University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.