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Expanding the Cornell neurology legacy

alumnaFrom an early age Lauren Talarico ’08 knew what she would be doing with her life. While other children would show interest in other careers, Talarico always had her mind set on becoming a veterinarian.

“Everything I did growing up was animal related,” said Talarico. “From rescuing stray animals in the neighborhood, to working at a local animal hospital at the age of 12, it was always with the end goal of becoming a veterinarian.”

Talarico visited Cornell when she was still in high school and immediately fell in love with the College. When it came time to apply to follow her life-long dream, she applied to every veterinary school in the country to be safe and was accepted by each one. While visiting another school, Talarico decided that Cornell was the place for her.

“I kept thinking about Cornell the entire time” said Talarico. “Immediately after I called Cornell and told them I was on my way.”

Talarico then spent the next seven years at Cornell, completing her neurosurgical residency in 2012 after achieving her DVM.

“The College of Veterinary Medicine was my home for many years,” said Talarico. “I consider each and every person, from the women in admissions, to my professors, to my friends, as family.”

One particular professor stands out as the reason why Talarico chose to dedicate her life to veterinary neurology. Her favorite classes were with Dr. Alexander DeLahunta. She also attended neuroanatomy rounds with him, examining both large and small animals at two in the morning.

“I was inspired from the very first day of class in a way that I cannot describe with words,” said Talarico. “I knew, within minutes, this is what I wanted to do with my life.”

After Dr. DeLahunta retired, Dr. Curtis Dewey took over the neurology program and became another inspiration in Talarico’s education. He was also her mentor during her three year neurology residency.

“Dr. Dewey solidified my goal further and made it a reality,” said Talarico. “He shaped me into the neurologist that I am today for that, I will forever be in his debt.”

Today Talarico is a veterinary neurosurgeon at VCA SouthPaws Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Center where she uses her Cornell experience to better the lives of animals. One particular aspect of the job she loves is helping paralyzed dogs to walk again.  Another recent highlight for Talarico is when she removed four brain tumors from a cat in one surgical procedure.

“Being able to help animals with neurologic diseases and seeing them recover is the most amazing gift,” said Talarico. “I feel as though I have taken the Cornell neurology legacy to Washington, DC. It is common knowledge that the neurology program at Cornell is unparalleled and I consider myself very fortunate and extremely connected to that legacy.”

Today Talarico is using the lessons she learned at Cornell to help animals in need, as she continues to follow her life-long dream. For those also looking to pursue their own dream of veterinary medicine, she has a bit of advice.

“It is important to realize that becoming a veterinarian is a lifestyle and it requires constant commitment and life-long dedication, never take it for granted, it is a gift,” said Talarico. “If you are fortunate enough to complete your veterinary education at Cornell, realize you are part of a legacy.  Make every day count and treat every case you see the Cornell way.”