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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Student blogs


Manlius, NY
Animal Science: Captive Raptor Management
Summer College 2008
Hello. My name is Laura. I just finished my junior year of high school at Fayetteville-Manlius High School in Manlius, New York. I am a triplet, and I have one younger sister. I enjoy the natural beauty of upstate New York very much, as nature is very important to me. I love walking in the woods with my dog, Mia, and often, I do my best thinking during these walks. At my school, I am president of the environmental club and I also founded a group called the Preemie Support Group. I also enjoy creative writing. I am looking forward to a busy summer, but certainly, the highlight of my summer will be the three-week course I am taking: Introduction to Veterinary Medicine. I am so excited to participate in this intense, in-depth program! I have an all-encompassing love for both wild and domestic animals, though the two species I have had the greatest experience with are horses and dogs. I have always dreamed of becoming a small animal veterinarian. My interest in a veterinary career has found me shadowing a local veterinarian on multiple occasions. I have also participated in a local program designed to introduce teenagers to the field of veterinary medicine. I know that you get out of situations what you put into them, and I expect the intensity of my course will culminate in a very rewarding experience.

I will be heading off to Cornell Summer College in 2 days. I've been looking forward to this opportunity since I first heard about the Introduction to Veterinary Medicine Program over two years ago. As I mentioned, I am a triplet, and the busy college application process is already underway at my house. I'm looking forward to removing myself from the bustle for the next three weeks and focusing on something I have always enjoyed. In two days I'll have met my roommate, classmates and instructors. I am looking forward to meeting many new people who share my passion for veterinary medicine.

The first week of Summer College has just ended. This week was bursting with interesting experiences! Cornell is amazing, and the monumental scale of the university has been made more appreciable to me by living here. As it turns out, I do not have a roommate. My dorm building, Ujamaa, is organized into suites. The suite I am living in has two double rooms and two single rooms. I was assigned a single. The girls I share the suite with are all in the Introduction to Veterinary Medicine Program. They are all very friendly; it's wonderful to spend time with individuals who share common interests. My class, Captive Raptor Management and Propagation, starts each weekday at 8:00 am. Many of the other Summer College students in my dorm have classes that start later in the day. My class involves lectures, informational movies, PowerPoint presentations and afternoon lab sessions. Learning about raptors is very unique and interesting. Also, very interesting, are the daily Introduction to Veterinary Medicine seminars. These seminars are actually held in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell -- a fact of endless excitement for me. During the seminars, we have taken a tour of the veterinary school, learned about dog restraint methods, practiced giving a physical exam to a beagle, attended a veterinary faculty panel and have seen presentations on radiology and disorders of large animal neonates. Our coursework keeps us very busy, and the twice weekly labs allow us to see the application of these concepts in concrete form. Our labs take place at Cornell's Raptor Barn. On the first lab day we were able to hold a Red Tailed Hawk! This was unbelievable! I look forward to lab days, as they are a rare and incredible opportunity to be in close contact with these captive raptors and to help in their maintenance.

It continues to be a busy summer. Right after Summer College, I was whisked off with my brothers to visit colleges. As I listened to yet another tour guide, I noticed the ivy on one building growing vertically between two rows of windows, then horizontally near the top, to resemble the silhouette of an accipiter, a genus of forest dwelling raptors...

Over the past two weeks, since leaving Summer College, I've been thinking about the very interesting people I met there. We were drawn together by our similar interests, and I am looking forward to keeping in touch with my new friends. Summer College was a chance to meet peers outside of the context of high school.

I also had some extraordinary opportunities to meet with and listen to current veterinarians as they discussed their various fields. These veterinarians were wonderfully helpful in explaining certain areas of veterinary medicine that I had not considered before.

Experiencing world-class veterinary facilities during our seminars was another highlight of my summer experience. My favorite was being able to watch a horse galloping on the horse treadmill. That experience was a larger, more impressive version of watching my German Shepherd trotting on our home treadmill. I think that my professor, Dr. John Parks, made all the difference for me as I took his Raptor Management and Propagation course. His obvious and genuine devotion to raptors really inspired in us a lifelong appreciation for raptors. It was this ability to inspire that made him one of the best teachers I have ever had. I think Baba Dioum's saying expresses the value of inspired learning: "In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught."