First Person: Lyndsey Hornbaker

WTHS graduate recalls experience as a student at Cummings School’s Tufts at Tech Community Veterinary Clinic
a young lady wearing glasses standing with her horse holding his snout
A former high school student assistant at Tufts at Tech, Lyndsey Hornbaker (pictured with Mara, a research horse from UMass Amherst’s Hadley Farm) is applying to veterinary schools.

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University has operated the Tufts at Tech Community Veterinary Clinic for 10 years. Veterinarians, final year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine candidates, and Worcester Technical High School (WTHS) students enrolled in the veterinary assisting program collaborate at the WTHS-based clinic to provide low-cost care to family pet owners from underserved communities in Central Massachusetts.

WTHS and University of Massachusetts graduate Lyndsey Hornbaker (she/her) recently reflected upon her Tufts at Tech experience as she prepares to apply for veterinary school. 

What is most important to me from my time spent working in the Tufts at Tech clinic is the community—not just the one we created, but also the one we aided. It’s the community we made as students and staff members, even if only for a few weeks at a time. I remember getting excited when our favorite D.V.M. students came back for a second rotation or simply stopped by to say hello. I remember Jess’s bright smile at the front desk every morning and [Clinic Supervisor] Pam’s laugh when an assistant would crack a lame joke. And I remember listening to Dr. [Greg] Wolfus, [V98] lead rounds for the day as I would stack towels and stock syringes, and how everything he said held the interest of the entire room.

As an aspiring vet assistant, it quickly became clear I was fundamental to the smooth functioning of the clinic. Before the first appointment arrived, I found myself cleaning and stocking necessities alongside my fellow students. We took pride in glossy floors and making flushing for IV catheters as we eagerly glanced over the cases for the day. I consider myself fortunate to have worked alongside such an amazing crew. They made the difficult moments easier and the silly moments unforgettable. And they made me feel like I was part of something, especially when Pam decided to hang up my version of Eadweard Muybridge’s The Horse in Motion painting in one of the exam rooms.

I felt I learned a lot from my peers and from the D.V.M. students, but the veterinarians taught me the most. Observing Dr. Wolfus, Dr. [Jenni] Grady, [V12], and all the other wonderful doctors who gave their time to the clients and patients showed me the kind of person I wanted to be … someone who is constantly giving and never asking for anything in return … someone who takes time for every staff member and doesn’t hesitate to lend a helping hand, even when their hands are full.

Working in Tufts at Tech clinic with D.V.M. students, seasoned technicians, and incredible doctors gave me a glimpse into the world I would soon be entering. We saw cats and dogs of all shapes and sizes—from the mastiff mixes that weighed more than me, to the tiny kittens barely bigger than my palm—belonging to clients just as diverse. 

The one thing these pet parents had in common at this clinic, however, was their need for affordable, compassionate vet care, and I quickly learned this was not something available for everyone. The more time I spent with the community, the more certain I became that I wanted to do humanitarian work. I want to be someone who helps those who need help the most and have limited, if any, access to it. 

Tufts at Tech taught me about people as much as it taught me about our patients, and I intend to do what I can to improve lives, human and animal alike.

Tufts at Tech Turn 10

For 10 years, the Cummings School veterinary clinic at Worcester Tech has provided low-cost services to pets from underserved households