Nicole Neely

Nicole (‘20) is pursuing a B.S. in Pre-Veterinary Science, a minor in Art History, and is a member of the Commonwealth Honors College. Nicole chose to come to UMass Amherst because of the various hands-on opportunities the campus farm and course curriculum would provide for her, experiences important when being considered for veterinary medical school acceptance.

During her freshman year, Nicole joined the Pre-Veterinary and Animal Sciences Club, AnSci Peer Mentors, and the Northeast Student Affiliate (NESA) Competition Team. She traveled with NESA to their annual competition, where UMass took second place. In the summer following that year, she interned at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo and at the Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine, an emergency and specialty clinic in North Haven, CT. There, she discovered a newfound interest in diagnostic imaging and cardiology.

During her sophomore year, Nicole took Boer Goat Management and helped raise a pair of goat kids named Aspen and Spruce. She attended the NESA competition again, giving an oral presentation on antibiotic resistance. Nicole won a fifth-place ribbon out of over forty competitors and the UMass NESA team again took second place. Nicole joined Dr. Hélène Cousin’s lab, which studies the molecular mechanisms of craniofacial development in frog embryos. During the summer, Nicole moved to Massachusetts to do an internship at Southwick’s Zoo. There, she worked with a variety of exotic birds, and was involved in all aspects of their care, from feeding and cleaning to training and showing. Working with the birds was highly rewarding, and because of this experience, Nicole now knows that she would happily specialize in exotics and avian medicine in a future career.

During her junior year, Nicole continued her work in Dr. Cousin’s lab, developing and studying the mechanisms of a novel protein in the development of the frog’s craniofacial structures. Over the winter, she was hired as a veterinary technician at a local small animal clinic. During spring break, she had the unique opportunity to become certified in the artificial insemination of cattle through an intensive program offered by UMass. She attended the annual NESA competition once again, taking eighth place in the presentations competition. Her team of four won the NESA quiz bowl that year, beating out the reigning champions, and even though UMass was third overall, it was a victory for the UMass team. Nicole plans to lead the NESA team during senior year, and hopes to bring the UMass team, finally, to first place. She will also be a Teaching Assistant for the Anatomy and Physiology class, and will be pursuing thesis work in her lab, with hopes of publishing a paper by graduation. She will be applying to vet schools this summer, with hopes of being accepted to her first choice, Texas A & M.

Outside of classes, Nicole enjoys reading, drawing, and writing novels, which she hopes to publish someday. She is also an avid gamer and plays on both PC and console. She enjoys spending time outside in warm weather, and has recently gotten into rock climbing. Work-life balance is very important to her, and she hopes she will be able to keep up with some of her hobbies throughout vet school and beyond.