Rocky Mountain Rewind

Ian Pelto, VG20, returns home to pursue M.D. in Colorado
Male graduate student posing for picture in his white coat with stethoscope around his neck
Ian Pelto, VG20, is an M.D. candidate at the University of Colorado

A native of Colorado Springs, Ian Pelto, VG20, (he/him/his) has returned to his home state to pursue an M.D. at the University of Colorado. Inspired by the One Health approach to medicine that he found at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Pelto sought and found a medical school with a similar program emphasis, close to where he grew up. 

Pelto earned a B.A. in international political economy at Colorado College while completing his medical school prerequisites, then pursued a Master of Science in infectious disease and global health (IDGH) at Cummings School to boost his application after he was not accepted on his first attempt.

“The One Health focus—tying together the health of animals, humans, and the environment—was important to me,” Pelto explains. “I wanted to get involved in infectious diseases, and I’m interested in global health, so this was the perfect program for me."

“It’s a great prerequisite for medical school because you’re studying all the disease processes, but also the normal behavior of the human body before it’s overtaken by those microbes.”

 "... this was the perfect program for me. It’s a great prerequisite for medical school because you’re studying all the disease processes, but also the normal behavior of the human body before it’s overtaken by those microbes.” - Ian Pelto, VG20

Although the pandemic created several challenges during Pelto’s Cummings School education, he was impressed by the support he received and thankful for the friendships he made.

Akram Da’darah [associate professor of infectious diseases] was an excellent, fun, and highly supportive mentor throughout the program,” he says. “And I spoke to Abhineet Sheoran [associate professor and director of the M.S. in IDGH program] at length about medical school prospects; he was so gracious to offer his hand to help me. 

“And the lecture about the complement system taught by Patrick Skelly [professor and associate chair of IDGH] has stuck with me since I graduated.” Currently beginning his studies in a four-year M.D. program at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Pelto credits his Tufts education for easing this transition. “I’m using Dr. Skelly’s lecture in the foundation principles part of med school. As we talk about complement and immunology it’s amazing how easily all of this has come back because of this awesome professor,” he shares.

Male climber standing on side of rock leaning back on his rope
Ian Pelto, VG20, an avid climber, met two of his best friends through Cummings School’s Mountain Club.

Thanks to Pelto’s involvement in Cummings School’s Mountain Club, he found some normalcy while exploring mountains with fellow students during a turbulent time. “I met two of my best friends through the Mountain Club. They are both veterinarians now, and we still climb together.”

Fueled by a desire for hands-on work after graduating, Pelto ran the UMass Mobile Vaccine Equity Program for a year, taking the COVID-19 vaccines to at-risk and underserved populations. The following year, he gained clinical experience in the ER and Trauma Center at UMass Medical School’s Worcester campus.

After his admission to the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Pelto chose to attend its partnership location at the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in Fort Collins. “I’m here because of Tufts,” Pelto says. “I love the way of thinking of veterinarians and the One Health aspect, which they follow at this campus.” 

Less than a month into the program, Pelto shares that it is going well. “It’s been good so far and largely because of my mentors. The great base of knowledge I gained at Tufts made it so much easier these first few weeks.”

While he’s not sure what his plans will be after graduation, Pelto reveals that he really enjoys emergency medicine but has a few years to decide what’s next. “The nice thing about ER is you get to see a little bit of everything, which blends with my personality,” he admits. “I like the variety.”

Follow your passion

Cummings School offers a variety of master's programs where you can make a difference. Choose from Animals and Public Policy, Conservation Medicine, or Infectious Disease and Global Health. 

Learn more