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August 2015

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Alumna excels in exotics and outreach

Michelle Pesce, DVM ’12, has tended to some pretty unusual animals during her career. “Some of the stranger patients I have seen include a kinkajou, a tarantula, a seahorse, and a two-headed turtle,” says Pesce. “A couple of years ago I was also asked to spay a captive squirrel (yes, I did it - intubated and with an IV catheter, no less!)” It’s all in a day’s work for Pesce, who has followed her passion for science and animals into a career as a small animal and exotics veterinarian at Bolton Veterinary Hospital in Bolton, Connecticut, since graduating from the College.Michelle Pesce

Pesce’s first experience working with animals was as a high school student and undergrad, when she volunteered and later worked at a wildlife rehabilitation center on Long Island. However, “it wasn't until my third year as an undergrad that I seriously considered veterinary medicine,” she says. “The sort of special consideration that exotics and wildlife require—knowledge of their natural history as well as their basic needs and physiology—really drew me in.” She continued to explore her interest in exotics through traveling to Honduras and Costa Rica, where she got even more insight to the needs of exotic species. “So many of the health problems of exotic pets derive from inadequacies in replicating their natural environment, their diet, or enabling them to pursue normal patterns of behavior captivity,” she says. “Seeing 'the real thing' puts a new perspective on all of that.”

As a DVM student at Cornell’s veterinary college, she encountered the rigors of the program that has challenged many of her fellow alums. “You'd think 22 years in school would be enough time to gain a full understanding of one's learning style, but I still can't say I had an easy time as a student,” she admits. “But for whatever intricacies of Block Two didn't stick in my mind, I will always remember what a great team my class made, and how helpful and supportive my classmates were for each other.” Pesce also embraced the extracurriculars available at the College, including bake sales, the 5Ks, the Bike-A-Thon, the Senior Skit, and more.

Now, as a practicing veterinarian at Bolton Vet, Pesce continues to be involved in a wide range of activities beyond her clinical work. She’s overhauled the practice’s website, establishing a collection of informative blogs for clients, while also overseeing the group’s Facebook page, increasing the followers from about 300 to over 2200 within a couple of years. Additionally, once per month through the summer & fall she hosts an informational “Ask the Vet” table at the local farmers market, where she unfailingly gains a few new clients each time. A trip to a local Girl Scout troop's career day event led her to begin volunteering as a leader for a group of middle school through high school Scouts.

While Pesce wears several different hats in her job, it’s a career she’s grateful for. “Even on the days I've been at work for fourteen hours and I'm starting to lose my mind a little,” she says, “I realize how lucky I am to be doing what I do and working where I am.”