Virtual summer program nurtures senior’s veterinary passions


Jadyn Jacobs

Senior Anna Riordan took part in a virtual medicine internship through Tufts University to explore future careers involving her passion for animals.

John Dugan, Staff Writer

This past summer, senior Anna Riordan participated in a virtual veterinary medicine program that gave her an encouraging learning experience and allowed her to meet new people.

Riordan took part in the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine program. This Adventures in Veterinary Medicine program was originally supposed to be an in-person experience, but due to the pandemic, it shifted to an online platform.

“I was a little worried about the program being monotonous or not engaging because of the online format, but the day was broken up into hour-long sections for guest speakers, so that helped keep it engaging,” Riordan said in an interview via email.

The summer Adventures in Veterinary Medicine program offered virtual classes, group meetings and social events for the students, trying to give them the best experience with limited resources due to COVID.

“Each person who talked had a different career specialty, so I got introduced to tons of new fields and new people,” Riordan said via email. “Some of the topics that stood out to me were wildlife medicine, shelter medicine, epidemiology, surgery, exotics and large animals, because I really had no idea that some of these fields even existed.”

Riordan’s desire to care for animals stemmed from a childhood passion for animals and science. In middle school, Riordan began to explore the idea of pursuing veterinary medicine.

“I’ve always loved animals my whole entire life,” Riordan said via email. “My parents saw how much joy animals brought me, and they suggested that being a veterinarian might be something that I would like, so that’s how I started thinking about it.”

Another program that has nurtured Riordan’s love of helping animals is the Helping Paws club, through which she has gained a lot of knowledge and experience. Her experiences with the Tufts summer program and Helping Paws have made her curious about working with wild animals in addition to merely cats and dogs.

“Helping Paws has been mainly focused on fundraisers and donations for different animal shelters and Humane Societies locally, for animals like dogs and cats,” Riordan said via email. “For the future, I also would love to explore more exotic wild animals like sea turtles, lions, elephants, koalas, dolphins and whales.”

Riordan plans to be a biology major on a pre-vet track. However, she is weighing her options as opposed to jumping right into veterinary medicine.

“Right now I think my biggest challenge is deciding what I want to go into—deciding if I want to pursue veterinary medicine as a career, or if I would like to pursue something else,” Riordan said via email. “I recognize that I love animals, but I also recognize that I am 17 and I have other passions, and what I think I want to do now isn’t necessarily what I will be doing.”

The road ahead will be full of career decisions for Riordan, but she is confident that her passion for animals will guide her.