A Passion for Equine Internal Medicine
Cummings School Program: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Undergraduate Studies: Williams College, B.A. in biology
Favorite Courses: Respiratory Pathophysiology and Cardiology
“I was one of those people who always knew they wanted to be a vet. I couldn’t picture doing anything else,” insists Ananya Mahalingam-Dhingra, V22. Growing up in Brookline, Massachusetts, she loved horseback riding and made animals a part of her life.
Ananya shadowed a veterinarian at a small animal practice and attended Cummings School’s Adventures in Veterinary Medicine (AVM) program twice—all before graduating high school.
Seeking a liberal arts education before specializing in the sciences, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in biology from Williams College. As an undergrad, she volunteered at a wildlife clinic and worked with an equine veterinarian. She also played squash for Williams, captaining the team her senior year.
“Squash was a big part of my college experience and translated well to veterinary school—the time commitment, communication with my teammates, and dealing with different personality types leading the team,” she claims.
A few months after graduating from Williams in 2018, Ananya entered the DVM program at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.
“I fell in love with Cummings School while in the AVM program,” she shares. “Knowing veterinary school would be challenging and competitive, I wanted a school that felt like a community. Cummings School is one of the rare veterinary schools that has a strong campus and community feel.”
Ananya appreciated all the opportunities to explore the field at Tufts, particularly to experience both the Foster Hospital for Small Animals and the Hospital for Large Animals.
The physiology courses sparked her interest in internal medicine and working with the large animal professors ignited her passion for equine medicine. Ananya conducted research on equine asthma with Dr. Melissa Mazan, V93, professor of large animal medicine, and Dr. Daniela Bedenice, associate professor and residency director specializing in respiratory physiology in large animal medicine. The pair have since become mentors to her. Ananya ran a clinical trial evaluating the effects of nebulized lidocaine in treating equine asthma.
“My research with Dr. Mazan and Dr. Bedenice has made me want to continue to pursue large animal internal medicine and hopefully a career in academia,” she declares. “Working with the research team at the Hospital for Large Animals has been the biggest shaping experience of my time at Tufts.”
Ananya has also been quite involved in student activities. She helped lead the student chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), running wet labs for students to practice hands-on work, such as joint injections and ultrasounds. Last year, she served on the anti-racism task force with students and representatives from across the Tufts University community.
“Veterinary medicine is unfortunately not a very diverse profession and that definitely holds true for large animal medicine especially,” she admits. “As a person of color, I think it is important to have a voice in the community and also help lend a voice to those who are less represented.”
Ananya was part of the Large Animal Technician team at the Hospital for Large Animals, where students participate in treatments and surgeries.
“It helped me hone my technical skills. I spend as much time as possible in the Hospital for Large Animals,” she states. “I attribute much of what I’ve learned in vet school to the residents, vet techs, and staff at HLA.”
After completing her thesis on equine asthma, Ananya is currently earning her International Veterinary Certificate. After graduating in May, she will begin a year-long rotating internship at the Mid-Atlantic Equine Medical Center in New Jersey (along with a Cummings School classmate). Before starting the internship, Ananya plans to volunteer at the American Fondouk, a nonprofit organization supporting working equids in Morocco.
She insists, “I’ve gotten so much out of my education here that I wouldn’t have expected—wonderful mentorship, great friends, and community.”