Deanna Puchalski grew up in Middlefield, Connecticut. For more than a decade, her family has operated Laurel Brook Farm where she cares for the horses, goats and chickens in addition to assisting with riding lessons, summer camps and clinics held at the farm. As a pre-vet animal science major, she plans to become a practicing large animal veterinarian. Puchalski enjoys her role as a University tour guide, as well as an animal science mentor. Here is what she said about her experiences as a CAHNR student.
What attracted you to UConn? Being a larger institution, UConn offers an amazing quantity and quality of opportunities and resources to its students, but at the same time, it provides a small school feel. UConn has strong academic programs, especially in science, and I knew that I would be exposed to beneficial experiences here that would impact my future. UConn also has a great network of alumni who are always welcoming when students reach out to them, and I have definitely benefited from a few UConn alumni in the veterinary field who have mentored me and given valuable career advice.
Why did you choose your particular major? I first heard about animal science at Accepted Students Day, when Dr. Steven Zinn, the department head, spoke about the major and what it entails. Animal science as a major provides both academic and practical experience in dealing with animals and their health, nutrition, etc. My major would also give me the opportunity to work further with the farm animals on campus, which I appreciated since I want to work with farm animals in the future. In addition to offering courses in animal science topics of interest, I’m on a pre-vet track, so my major works to incorporate all the prerequisites for veterinary school.
Which one of your UConn activities, internships or jobs was the most memorable? Why? I serve as a campus tour guide, which has been a great experience thus far. I have learned a lot about the University, both current and in the past. I really enjoy helping prospective students along their college process and helping them understand that it can be fun despite the stress and pressure. Working with the staff and other students creates a really supportive environment that I think attracts prospective students as well.
Name two other experiences that have enriched your studies. I have an internship in the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab on campus in the necropsy unit, which is an incredible experience that I would not have gotten at another university. I also have the opportunity to work in a food microbiology lab this semester, which will also help extend my learning outside of the classroom.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? My biggest challenge in my UConn career has been prioritizing. UConn presented me with a number of opportunities, all of which I all wanted to be a part of, but I’ve learned to deal with multiple opportunities by determining priorities. This challenge is still difficult as an upperclassman, but I’ve learned how to deal with it better. Being at UConn has helped me better figure out what I want to do in the future by allowing me to get involved with everything I have been a part of over the past few years.
When do you expect to graduate? What then? I am planning on graduating in December 2017. I want to go to veterinary school after graduation to pursue my lifelong dream of being a veterinarian. Until I attend veterinary school, I will continue working at Yalesville Veterinary Hospital, which has given me additional experience outside of UConn.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I have volunteered for the Tara Farm Rescue in Coventry, Connecticut, and the Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue of Haddam Neck, Connecticut. Both organizations were started to rescue unwanted or abused horses and other animals. Volunteering for these organizations gave me some really beneficial experience with large animals outside of my family’s farm and UConn, while I could give back to the community at the same time. Seeing the generosity of the volunteers and founders of the organizations inspires me to want to do something with rescue organizations once I become a veterinarian.