From Tufts at Tech to Veterinarian

Dr. Timothy Lavoie is the first graduate of Tufts at Tech’s high school veterinary assisting program to become a veterinarian
a person dressing in Commencement cap and gown stands next to a campus sign that says 'Veterinary Medicine, Small Animal Hospital, LSU'.
Dr. Tim Lavoie, first Tufts at Tech student to become a veterinarian. Photo: Tim Lavoie, D.V.M. (he/him)

"I remember not being sure if I could even handle seeing a surgery for the first time. Watching my first spay at Tufts at Tech, I thought, 'That could be me one day.' The experiences and connections I made at Tufts at Tech helped me become a veterinarian at such a young age," says Dr. Timothy Lavoie, D.V.M. (he/him).

In a unique collaboration between Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and Worcester Technical High School, Tufts at Tech Community Veterinary Clinic allows high school students to train alongside veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and fourth-year Cummings School students. Tufts at Tech provides affordable veterinary care for pets in underserved communities, including wellness care, vaccinations, urgent care, diagnostic services, surgeries, and dentistry.

Dr. Lavoie is the program's first graduate to become a veterinarian. He has wanted to work with animals since he was a child (growing up, he was a big fan of Steve Irwin's television show, The Crocodile Hunter), and Tufts at Tech set him on his career path. 

"Tufts at Tech was fairly new when I first heard about it. I knew if I wanted to be a vet, I should get exposure as soon as possible to better understand where I could set my sights when I graduate high school," says Dr. Lavoie. He applied to Worcester Tech and the veterinary assisting program at Tufts at Tech and was accepted into both. "After working at Tufts at Tech, I knew that's what I wanted to do."

At Worcester Tech, students alternate weekly between academic classes and professional and trade programs. Dr. Lavoie spent his first two years of the veterinary assisting program in the classroom, training and studying. During his junior year, he moved into the field at Tufts at Tech, taking on cases and working closely with Cummings School students and veterinarians. 

As a high school student, Dr. Lavoie learned how to administer vaccines, run bloodwork and diagnostics, and the fundamentals of bedside manner in veterinary medicine.

"Tufts at Tech is a fantastic program. I learned a lot of technical skills early on, with exposure to cases and surgeries, while also doing good for the community," says Dr. Lavoie. "What I remember most is the people. Tufts students are some of the kindest people; they shared a wealth of information with me."

Dr. Gregory Wolfus, V98 (he/him), associate clinical professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Cummings School and director of Tufts at Tech, was an impactful mentor to Dr. Lavoie. Dr. Wolfus wrote his letter of recommendation for veterinary school, and they continue to be good friends today.

"Dr. Wolfus sat me down and asked if I wanted to be a vet. He instilled a lot of confidence in me to chase my dream. I was on the fence about leaving the state for college. He pushed me to follow through on my dreams," says Dr. Lavoie.

"The thing I remember most about Tim as a high school student was his curiosity, intelligence, and strong work ethic. Tim spent a bunch of time volunteering in the clinic and was always eager to help, participate, and learn," says Dr. Wolfus. "High school is a great time to get exposed to the veterinary profession. Whether the goal is veterinary assistant, veterinary nurse, veterinarian, or even another profession, we prepare our students to be civic-minded, compassionate members of their community."

During his senior year at Worcester Tech, Dr. Lavoie worked as a veterinary assistant at Riverlin Animal Hospital in Millbury, Massachusetts, and saved up for college. He attended Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate, he founded the Pre-Veterinary Club and served as president. He conducted research on plant-animal interactions and how the evolutionary traits of acorns influence the behavior of squirrels. He also helped present research discussing effects on small mammal populations at Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania at the Animal Mammologist Conference at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, in 2019. 

Dr. Lavoie earned his veterinary degree at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in Saint Kitts and completed his clinical year of training at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. He graduated in January 2024 and moved back to Massachusetts. 

"I struggle to find the words to express how proud I am of Tim," says Dr. Wolfus. "Tim Lavoie is a living example of how valuable a veterinary community teaching clinic in a high school can really be."

Dr. Lavoie now works as an emergency veterinarian at the Veterinary Emergency Specialty Hospital in South Deerfield, Massachusetts.

"The ER has my heart," he says. "I love the pace of it, the complex cases we get on referral, the high intensity of working in the ER, and juggling it all at once. I like that thrill, the high caliber of excitement—from CPR to foreign body surgeries to treating broken limbs."

Dr. Lavoie also works part-time as a general practitioner at Hillside Veterinary Clinic and Riverlin Animal Hospital. "The Tufts at Tech veterinary assisting program got me the job I have today. I am a clinician in the hospital I essentially grew up in."

He especially enjoys the problem-solving aspect of being a veterinarian. "There's nothing else I'd want to do—working with animals that can't tell you what's wrong, interpreting their language of what could be the problem, running tests to figure out the puzzle of what's ailing them, applying that to a treatment plan, and watching them get better and respond to what you're doing. It's amazing, translating for animals what will make them feel better. It's stressful and scary, but being able to help a family through that experience with compassion is really rewarding."

In his work today, Dr. Lavoie encounters many of the vets he met in the veterinary assisting program and often refers clients to Tufts at Tech.

"Tim is one of those special people who has stayed connected through his college and veterinary experience," says Dr. Wolfus. "Not only did he send emails, pictures, and texts of his academic adventures, but he also visited the clinic and high school during his vacations. Tim had always told me that he was eager to maintain connections to the clinic and high school program so that he could be a future' role model' for other Worcester high school students hoping to become veterinarians. The future is here now."

Dr. Lavoie will deliver the keynote speech at the Approved Veterinary Assistant Ceremony for the graduating high school class later this month.

"I am so grateful for the tools given to me at such a young age by Dr. Wolfus and the mentors at Tufts at Tech," says Dr. Lavoie. "I was able to fast-track to where I want to be in life, to be here at 24, and cut out so many years of figuring out what I want to do. I was the youngest in my class at Ross to graduate and the first student at Tufts at Tech to graduate from a veterinary program to earn my D.V.M. I would not be where I am today without the people at Tufts at Tech who supported and encouraged me."


Tufts at Tech