Aspiring veterinarian learns biology basics at SHU

Jessica Ferrara is a senior biology major and Italian minor, who is pursuing a unique career: she wants to become a veterinarian and has been accepted for graduate school at St. George’s University in Grenada, West Indies.

“I honestly have wanted to be a vet for as long as I remember,” Ferrara said. “I grew up having pets, and I always loved animals. My parents showed me from a young age that pets truly are members of the family.”

Jessica Ferrara is persuing her childhood dream of being a veterinarian at SHU and St. George’s University.
Photo courtesy of Jessica Ferrara

Ferrara added that her family was always supportive of her dreams, and even (reluctantly) let her keep a stray kitten that followed her home one day.

“In school I was always drawn to science, and whenever we brought my dog or cats to the vet I wanted to know everything that was going on,” Ferrara said. “I asked so many questions!”

Ferrara said that the classes she has taken have taught her the basics of how cells and body systems function. This in turn has built the foundation of the more complex biological and chemical processes that will be covered in veterinary school.

There are no courses at SHU that are focused solely on animals, but, luckily, anatomy and physiology is somewhat similar in animals and humans.

In regards to her goals, Ferrara said, “I aspire to make my family and friends proud of me.

“I also aspire to be a vet for ‘small animals’ (cats and dogs) but I would love to someday expand my knowledge and be able to treat all animals, including exotic pets like birds and reptiles. My goal as a veterinarian is to provide care to the best of my ability and devote my life to keeping animals healthy and happy,” Ferrara said.

St. George’s University has a veterinary school and a medical school. “My uncle went there for medical school,” Ferrara said. “He worked at New York Presbyterian as an ER doctor before moving to Florida and teaching emergency medicine at University of Florida, and is now the clinical director of a hospital. He encouraged me to apply to St. George’s because of his success and great experience at the school.”

The school is in Grenada in the Caribbean, so Ferrara will be studying in paradise.

James Maglione, a junior psychology major and friend of Ferrara’s, said: “The only advice that I could give to Jessica would be to not accept disheartenment. The road will be tough emotionally, physically and mentally.

However, the work that you do and the love that you will bring to the people you help will be so incredibly worth it in the end! And regardless, you will always have your friends to lift you up when you feel down.”

Kaela Mulligan, a senior social work major, has been a friend of Ferrara for years.

Mulligan described the future veterinarian as an extremely compassionate, caring and loyal friend. “Ever since I met her freshman year, she always knew she wanted to be a vet,” Mulligan said. “She never lost sight of her goal through all the frustrations and obstacles that got in the way and going into such a competitive field. I have no doubt that she will be able to succeed and live her dream.”

As she travels down to path to her future, Mulligan advises Ferrara to, “Be you, and always remember you have an army of friends and family cheering you on at home!”

Claudia Emanuele can be reached at

Author: Claudia Emanuele

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