Emma Pedraza ’18, Pre-veterinary

Published on Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Emma in CAEmma Pedraza ’18 is gaining an education at Becker College in more ways than she ever dreamed.

The Glendora, Calif., native had never been to New England when she arrived in Worcester last fall as a freshman studying pre-veterinary. In her first year, not only has she learned valuable lessons in animal medicine, she has experienced a vastly different way of life and gained confidence in herself through being so far from home.

“I have never lived anywhere other than hot and sunny California,” she said. “We don’t have seasons, we don’t get much rain, and we don’t even have much green grass. I had never experienced late summer thunderstorms, fall leaves, apple picking, snow, or sledding. I love experiencing things so different from what I’m used to, and knowing there is still so much more for me to do during my time here.”

Though Pedraza did not always envision herself at a school in New England, she did always intuitively know she wanted to work with animals. “Our family has never been without a pet,” she said. “We’ve always had dogs or cats, and even some birds. Growing up, my aunt often brought home animals, and I loved going to her house to play with the ferret, hold the tarantula, see the snake, or observe whichever animal she had at the time. There was never a big moment when I decided veterinary medicine was the path for me; I just always understood animals were going to be a big part of my life and that it was important for me to be able to help others and make some sort of difference in the world.”

When she received a packet of information about Becker in the mail as a high school student, Pedraza was interested in the pre-veterinary program but wasn’t sure if she had what it would take to move so far from family and friends. “The school sent me a care package of items related to Becker, and it was very easy to get in contact with people there and to have my questions answered. I was wowed when a Becker representative offered to meet with me and my family in California, and I realized even though I’d be far from home, I would be supported and wouldn’t feel completely alone in Massachusetts.” She decided to take the leap and enroll in the pre-vet program, and she has not regretted her choice.

“I love knowing I have a home at Becker,” she said. “I have friends who look out for me and who have really become my New England family. Professors are always eager to help me understand something if I’m struggling, and are really supportive of me and everything I do.”

One such professor, Dr. Nuno Carreiro—who is also the staff veterinarian of the College’s on-site animal clinic—invited Pedraza and another student to join him this past spring on a trip to vaccinate ponies in Chincoteague, Va. Becker is exploring officially offering this trip to students in the future, and Pedraza was asked to do a trial run. In Chincoteague, the Becker students worked with Dr. Carreiro and other veterinarians to round up wild ponies and vaccinate them against rabies, Eastern and Western Encephalitis, tetanus, and West Nile Virus. According to Pedraza, one of the most valuable aspects of the experience was interacting with the veterinarians, who were friendly and helpful and answered their questions about the ponies and the vaccination process. “The Chincoteague trip was one of the best experiences of my life,” said Pedraza, who blogged about her personal experience and what she had learned for Becker’s website. “It has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my time at Becker.”

Pedraza has also thrown herself into campus life, joining the B.L.U.E. Crew student leadership program and becoming a resident assistant. She hopes to start an outdoor adventures club with a fellow student who is also from California, and plans to become a tutor. Building on her Chincoteague experience, Pedraza also wants to join the Becker equestrian team, and to find an internship at a local veterinary clinic in California for next summer.

After earning her degree at Becker, Pedraza plans to attend graduate school and would also like to continue to write and blog. “I want to keep my options open, so I can get the most out of what life has to offer me,” she said. And now that she has experienced life in New England, she has no plans to stay away for long. “I think this is where I’m supposed to be,” she said.

Check out Pedraza’s debut op-ed on her first New England winter, which appeared in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette on March 12, 2015 here.