Jada Gaskin ’22 and Cameron McAbee ’22 spent two weeks of the Immersive Term interning in San Ignacio, Belize, learning what it’s like to be a veterinarian and volunteering. The students were selected for participation by the Center for Engaged Learning Abroad (CELA).
They volunteered alongside Belizean veterinarians and learned from international faculty with expertise in animal care. They took courses on health issues confronting farm animals in Belize and on animal breeding so they would be better informed to help the veterinary team. In addition to caring for animals at farms and on working ranches, the students helped conduct free wellness and spay-neuter clinics for small animals in rural and urban areas. “Being there influenced the lives of others as well as the lives of local animals, and that’s exactly what I want to do with my life. To see children smile as I let them listen to their beloved pet’s heartbeat and to comfort the grieving owner of six dogs that required euthanasia let me be part of something much bigger than myself,” said McAbee, who double majors in conservation biology and theatre. Gaskin majors in biology through the Franklin College pre-veterinary medicine program. She did significant networking in Belize.
“I received an invite to come back and be a teaching assistant, and to work in a clinic,” Gaskin said. Additionally, two of the lead veterinarians offered to write her referrals for veterinary school, and a third veterinarian specializing in elephant care has become a mentor.
“I’m now in contact with her about work in Thailand, where she is based,” Gaskin said. “And I’m excited to say I have decided that I want to pursue veterinary medicine for large exotic animals, and specialize in reptiles.”
The CELA website indicates Belize is only a two-hour flight from Miami, but it faces different farming and environmental challenges than the United States. The nation is over 50 percent rainforest, which provides unique conservation opportunities and a chance for students to learn from the hard-working local veterinarians who help to sustain the agriculture industry in Belize by caring for the animals on farms and working ranches.
POSTED Jun 9, 2020