By Ann Durbin
Motivated by her passion to further understand and improve the care of livestock and domestic animals, Danielle Fortin has accomplished much as an active participant in undergraduate research and relevant career experience in her short time as an undergrad. She has recently been awarded the Vera M. Wallach Honors College Scholarship Fund Award for her dedication to her education and research at MSU.
The Vera M. Wallach Honors College Scholarship Fund is a $5,000 scholarship awarded to an Honor’s College student studying wildlife management, ecology, or natural resource management. The scholarship can be used to pay for educational costs.
Danielle is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Zoology with a concentration in Animal Behavior and Neurobiology at MSU. After completion of her undergraduate degree, she plans to attend professional school to pursue a career in Veterinary Medicine.
Danielle is drawn to the field of Veterinary Medicine because she finds it both intellectually stimulating and exciting. "I ultimately seek to serve as an advocate for animals by educating the owners, on whom their pet's health and well-being are dependent," Danielle said.
During her time at MSU, Danielle has worked alongside Dr. Gemus-Benjamin conducting research about Swine welfare. “I create and edit surveys regarding the perception of swine Quality of Life,” Danielle explained. “I also analyze answers of survey respondents of varying backgrounds and experiences.” The goal of the project is to understand how the public views swine welfare.
In addition to her research interests, Danielle has enjoyed working directly in the care of livestock and domestic animals. "Through the Pastured Pig Project and the Newfoundland Kennel, not only have I had the opportunity to participate in procedures such as deliveries, but I have also received vital training in animal welfare assessment and have learned how to serve as a caretaker for a diverse group of species.” Danielle has been accumulating veterinary-related experience at Jensen’s Animal Hospital in Petoskey, MI.
Danielle was a Learning Assistant for MSU’s IBIO 365: Biology of Mammals course in spring 2017. In her role as a learning assistant, she taught students how to identify mammalian species using skull anatomy during lab, conducted lectures, and worked with students one-on-one using techniques that best fit the student’s learning style.
“My experiences have enriched my knowledge and will bring me confidence as I continue to refine my communication and procedural skills,” Fortin remarked in reference to her undergraduate experiences and future career plans in the field of Veterinary Medicine.
Fortin plans to utilize the funds awarded by the Wallach scholarship to help offset the costs of room and board. She expressed deep gratitude upon receiving the award, stating, “I have always appreciated all of the resources the University has to offer but to receive a personal award for my hard work means so much to me. It gives me a sense that even though there are so many students, the University still sees us as individuals.” She continued, “Receiving this scholarship means that I will be able to devote more time to gaining experience in pursuit of my goal to become a veterinarian. I seek to serve not only as a caregiver but also as an advocate for animals through pet owner education, continued dedication to animal research, evidenced-based practices and empathetic care.”