When I entered McGill University in Montreal, Canada, as an undergraduate, I was planning to pursue an engineering degree. I took all the required courses for a science major, as well as advanced physics and mathematics, with the intention of transferring to the engineering school. However, I became interested in the study of cells during a molecular biology class. The complex interactions within cells, especially cancer cells, fascinated me. This newfound interest led me to change to a physiology major with hopes of entering either medical or veterinary school.
I chose veterinary medicine after much consideration and two summers working in private practice to gain perspective. I came to appreciate that veterinarians practice a broader scope of medicine, requiring knowledge about multiple species and skills in different areas.
After graduating from McGill University, I entered the VMD program at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Throughout veterinary school, I always felt motivated to pursue something beyond general practice. Interested in research, I found summer positions in the translational research laboratory of Dr. Nicola Mason, B.Vet.Med., PhD., DACVIM (Internal Medicine) and Dr. Ronald Hardy, BS, PhD. Dr. Mason’s laboratory focuses on cancer immunotherapy and developing clinical trials such as vaccines against lymphoma and osteosarcoma patients among other things. Dr. Hardy's laboratory is interested in the interaction of viruses with the immune system and targeting innate immune proteins for novel antiviral therapies.
I discovered my passion for cancer biology during an externship at Cornell University. The combination of research and clinical work confirmed my desire to pursue advanced training in the field of veterinary oncology.
After earning my VMD, I completed a rotating internship at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., followed by a specialized oncology internship in Orlando, Fla. The strong relationships developed with owners and oncology patients bolstered my desire to pursue a degree in veterinary radiation oncology where I could study novel treatment options for aggressive cancers.
Each day is a blessing to work with some of the best veterinarians in the field of veterinary oncology today, including specialists in radiation, medical, and surgical oncology. The Flint Animal Cancer Center is well known as a source of hope for patients and their owners, as well as a dedicated research institute for the study and treatment of cancer. The center has a collaborative team of researchers, clinicians, students and staff perpetually striving to provide the most advanced treatments and patient care for owners and their beloved pets. I am very fortunate to be a part of the radiation oncology team at the Flint Animal Cancer Center.