Graduation Year: 2007
What City/ State are you from? Oxford, CT
What City/ State do you currently live in? St. Augustine Beach, FL
Current Career Title: Hospital Manager
Business/ Organization you work for: The Sea Turtle Hospital @ The University of Florida’s Whitney Lab
What was your Major? Wildlife Care & Education
What was your favorite thing about your time at Unity College? Did you have a favorite tradition?
This is a tough one, because there are so many. Each year had special moments but the one that sticks out and usually the first one I ever talk about when explaining Unity College would be NOVA trips. That experience really introduced you to what Unity is. The experience of being out in the woods of Maine with a group of strangers for days and then returning with some of the best memories and friendships. That and the professors, I truly loved my professors. They made learning fun and easy at times. Bio I and II with Dave Potter, Marine Biology and Animal Physiology with Emma Creaser, Mammology with Jim Nelson. Some of the best memories I have were studying skulls for Mammology late at night in Koons Hall with my classmates and Emma’s weekend trip to Woods Hole.
What advice would you give to current Unity College students?
Experience! Experience! Experience! Your degree will only carry you so far. Your experiences and degree will carry further than you ever could dream of. Get involved in as many things as you possibly can but make sure you are on top of your studies. Enjoy your 4 years, they really do go by fast. GET OUTSIDE! Bond with your fellow classmates. They will be your friends for life. VOLUNTEER. VOLUNTEER. VOLUNTEER! You never know what interests might get sparked.
Did you utilize career services for your internship or career search? If so, in what ways?
I did not. I did my own research and knew what I was looking for when applying for internships. I already knew Mystic Aquarium was an internship program I wanted to do before starting at Unity College, luckily I was able to participate. Being at Mystic allowed me to meet other college students and professionals in the field which helped guide me in the right direction for my goals.
Where did you complete your internship(s) and what types of experiences did you have?
During my time at Unity it was required that I complete 3 internships. All of my summers while there were absorbed by internships, and I look back on those experiences and pinch myself for what I learned.
Norwalk Aquarium Summer 2004 Animal Husbandry Internship
-I worked closely with the husbandry team on basic husbandry for an aquarium collection of otters and seals. Water quality, diet preparation, record keeping, also public speaking about the aquariums collection.
Mystic Aquarium Summer 2005 Pinniped and Beluga Whale Training Internship
-I worked alongside marine mammal trainers, I learned the basic biology of the aquariums collection, and learned positive and negative reinforcement in training marine mammals. I completed phases tests in order to move onto the next level of the internship. I was able to assist trainers during basic husbandry sessions as well as in educational programs. Public speaking was also part of the internship once completing proper phase tests. I was able to talk to the guests about the current animals in the collection and their husbandry and training.
Sea Life Park in Hawaii Summer 2006 Marine Mammal Veterinary Technician Internship
-I shadowed the Parks veterinary team, including veterinarians and veterinary technicians for the daily medical care of the parks collection. I learned about basic biology of the collection and basic medicine used on the collection. Learned about blood gases and chemistries. Assisted in routine care, exams, and procedures. Learned to run basic lab work and record keeping.
During all of my months at Unity I volunteered at Marine Mammal Lifeline in Jetport, Maine
-Worked along side veterinary and rescue teams to help stranded and injured seals along the marine coast. I was responsible to report the stranding and fill out proper paperwork for each animal. Helped with husbandry, including diet prep, feeding diets and proper medications, multi-vits and calcium.
Is your current job in your field of study, or did you end up going a different direction than you thought?
I grew up around animals, so I’ve always known doing something with them would be in my career path. My goal while at Unity was to become a marine mammal trainer, little did I know with all my internships and experiences I would grow to really love the medical side of animals. It wasn’t until recently that I branched off into the research side of it. It’s been a very rewarding journey.
Tell us a little about your current job and what it entails:
I’ve been a jack of all trades but I am currently the Hospital Manager at The Sea Turtle Hospital @ UF Whitney Lab. I have been part of the foundation to the Hospital since 2013, started off working with a small team of decided individuals who loved sea turtles. Lots of start up work went into opening. Protocols needed to be written, permits needed to be applied for, tanks and life support needed to be researched, purchased and then set up. Once we were permitted from FWC we opened our doors October 24, 2015! We are a speciality hospital for sick and/or injured sea turtles, since we are part of a marine research lab we strictly deal with sea turtles that have Fibropapillomatosis (FP) which is a debilitated disease that affects sea turtles. We know very little about this disease and it’s something that my team and I research while we have these animals in our care. I oversee all of the animal care at the hospital and work very closely with the researchers and students who are researching Fibropapillomas in sea turtles.
Are you happy in your current career?
I couldn’t be happier, and I truly mean that.
Did you feel Unity College prepared you for your career?
Absolutely! Unity College gave me the education, drive, and passion I needed! You could get an education anywhere, but Unity gave me the tools to build my passion and drive. I absolutely wouldn’t be where I am today without my years at Unity.