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Brooke Cote (pictured left, in the center), recipient of the Class of 2013 President’s Award, earned her bachelor of science in veterinary science, pre-veterinary, and will be attending Worcester State University to obtain a master’s degree in communications in health care administration. Her goal is to work in a research facility and help improve human medicine.
The President’s Award is the most prestigious non-academic student award, presented to a graduating senior and resident student who has shown outstanding school spirit throughout his or her four years at Becker College. The recipient is recognized as a leader by students and the administration and is an active member of the Becker community through campus-wide involvement in clubs, organizations, and community service.
Cote is a fitting recipient of this prestigious award. She has dedicated herself to a critically important rescue mission that resonates with her veterinary science, pre-veterinary studies, and the College’s Global Citizenship Initiative. She became a volunteer for the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association Charities Mazunte Turtle Project, a program that works to preserve the sea turtle populations in Mexico, and founded the Mazunte Turtle Project student club at Becker, “so we could raise money for students to participate in the project,” she says.
For two consecutive years, she has traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico, to help spay and neuter a total of 600 cats and dogs to reduce the population of strays that threaten sea turtles in the region. Cote performed surgical preps—placing the animals under anesthesia, doing the sterile scrubs, and inserting catheters—all skills she learned in her clinical classes. She was also part of a group that released hundreds of young sea turtles to make their way to the ocean. “It was awesome,” she says. “We had to wait until dusk for the predator birds to go away. The sea turtles are so small; they fit in the palm of your hand.”
Not only do turtles and dogs benefit from the Mazunte Turtle Project; humans do as well. The turtles draw tourists to towns along the Oaxacan coast, and the decrease in stray dogs and improved health of treated dogs resulted in increased safety to promote a more robust tourist economy. “This was a great experience and opportunity,” she says. “You’re just immersed in the culture. We were in an area that is so poverty-stricken. It opened my eyes and made me more aware of the world. It has inspired me to do more to help in other countries.”
A natural leader, Cote served as the 2012-2013 president of the Becker College Student Government Association. She was also a Presidential Ambassador, resident assistant, and a multi-sport student-athlete. During the summer, she worked at a Maine veterinary practice and Signal Rock Farm in Charlton, Mass.
In June 2012, Cote was asked by Massachusetts Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (MA HOBY) Director Gail Elmore, to reprise her role as emcee of the MA HOBY Conference; she became involved with HOBY as a high school sophomore. Through HOBY, Cote has participated in a number of community service projects. “It is such a life-changing experience, and I have grown so much from being involved with HOBY. I love that I can help inspire others to have a great seminar and help them to become great leaders,” she says.
About her experience at Becker, Cote says that the student, faculty, and family atmosphere made it worthwhile waking up every morning. “I was always a student with a name in my classes, not just a number in a crowded lecture hall,” she explains. In addition, Cote says that Becker “has enabled me to be a global citizen in ways I had never been before. I was given such great opportunities to help the world around me. I have been able to tailor my career aspirations based on personal interests and strengths, and will leave Becker with friendships and memories I will hold onto forever.”