Tisch Summer Fellows Gain Valuable Experience

Seven scholars serve organizations in four U.S. cities
Woman wearing a navy suit with long blond hair standing while holding a railing in a lobby
MAPP candidate Caroline Bonfield completed a fellowship at WildEarth Guardians in Denver.

Since 2017, students at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine have contributed to animal health and public wellbeing through a 10-week summer fellowship program. 

The opportunity developed from a program established in 2004 at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, where undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students have been hosted by nonprofits, government agencies, and philanthropic organizations as Tisch Summer Fellows. Applicants selected as fellows engage with critical social issues while developing personal skills and networks.

According to Erin King (she/her/hers), Cummings-Tisch civic life coordinator, the number of fellows selected has increased from three in 2017 to 6–8 annually, with seven chosen this year. 

At Cummings School, students choose from fellowship placement options such as Boston and Providence animal rescue leagues, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo—or they can apply for a self-designed fellowship. 

“This gives students an opportunity to develop a relationship with an organization of their choice,” explains Erin King. “This year the Denver Friends Society and WildEarth Guardians are two placements that students selected themselves and we worked with those organizations to facilitate these opportunities for them.”

Fellows also participate in reflection groups with fellows from Tufts School of Medicine and School of Dental Medicine. “This provides them with a well-rounded One Health perspective on existing health disparities,” says King.

M.S. in Animals and Public Policy candidate Caroline Bonfield (she/her/hers) is a New Jersey native and passionate about wildlife policy. The Master of Science in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) candidate sought an opportunity to learn about wildlife dynamics and issues out west and secured a fellowship with WildEarth Guardians in Denver. 

“During my time here, I’ve learned about stakeholder dynamics in Colorado, provided testimony at a public hearing, wrote op-eds and blogs,” says Caroline. “I’ve gained confidence in my abilities to communicate and advocate for animals through policy and have the tools and experience needed to be an effective advocate.” She aims to put those skills to use after she graduates in September and pursues a career in animal policy.

“After completing the U.S.D.A. fellowship, I’m confident that a career in this organization represents a viable future for my career pursuits.” - Danny Dickason, V09, M.S. in Conservation Medicine (MCM) candidate

Students interested in zoo medicine have benefited from the placement at the Bronx Zoo, according to King. “Zoo medicine is a tight-knit community, so shadowing veterinarians has been very helpful for fellows to make connections in the field,” she says. “The U.S.D.A. has been a great placement to help students determine if they want to pursue government veterinary services, and those interested in community medicine have gained beneficial experiences from the animal rescue league options in Boston or Providence.”

man sitting on a tractor in a field
MCM candidate Danny Dickason, V09, D.V.M., spent the summer
as a fellow with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Danny Dickason, V09 (he/him/his), D.V.M., was drawn to the U.S.D.A. due to its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services veterinary work in animal production, animal science, and One Health. “This fellowship provided me with hands-on experience and time with people in the organization,” Danny shares.

The southern California native will graduate at the end of August with an M.S. in conservation medicine, supplementing his degrees in animal science and veterinary medicine. “I went back to school at age 38, seeking to shift my career from clinical veterinary medicine to a role more aligned with ecology and One Health concerns,” he explains. “After completing the U.S.D.A. fellowship, I’m confident that a career in this organization represents a viable future for my career pursuits.”

Rounding out Cummings School’s Tisch Summer Fellows were D.V.M. candidates Maria Maguire (Animal Rescue League of Boston) and Emma Wunderlich (Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx Zoo), MAPP student Mariah Leslie (Providence Animal Rescue League), and D.V.M./M.P.H. candidates Eleanor Kharasch (U.S.D.A. Foods in Schools) and Courtney Wallner (Denver Animal Rescue).