Rachel D'Andrea

Rachel D’Andrea (‘18) is currently pursuing a B.S. in Pre-Veterinary/Animal Science with a minor in Economics. In her senior year of high school, she decided to attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst because of the abundant opportunities available to the Animal Science students in preparation for veterinary school.

Starting in her freshman year, Rachel took advantage of the animal management classes available to Animal Science majors. During her first semester, she joined the Sheep Management Class where she administered her first vaccines and assisted in multiple lamb births. In her second semester, she joined the Belted Galloway Management Class which offered experience handling cattle, administering vaccines, performing fecal floats, ear tagging, and tattooing. The spring of her sophomore year, she was a coach for students showing Belted Galloways in the UMass Bay State Livestock Classic. This experience provided an excellent opportunity in leadership, and it prepared her to be a Teaching Assistant for the Belted Galloway Management Class during her junior year. She was able to gain valuable experience in maintaining herd health and maximizing productivity, gaining leadership skills, networking with local beef farms, and successfully impregnating all seven cows through artificial insemination. The spring of her junior year, she showed UMass Belted Galloway heifer at the Big East and was selected to show in the Jackpot Heifer Round with heifers from different breeds. Rachel is currently involved with the Belted Galloway Management Class attending each class and assisting the current TAs. Rachel participated in the UMass Artificial Insemination Program taught by Select Sires where she was able to practice artificially inseminating cattle and earned AI Certification.

During the summer before her sophomore year, Rachel participated in the Broadreach Program in Veterinary Medicine. She spent one month traveling to small animal clinics, wildlife sanctuaries, and farms around Costa Rica. She received a lot of practice performing physical exams, rectal palpations, suturing after necropsies, inserting catheters, assisting in spay and neuters, deworming, and administering vaccines. Because of her experience with cattle at UMass she was selected to give a presentation about cattle management to the other students; her lecture featured information that was included on the final examination.

At the beginning of Rachel’s junior year she joined Kathleen Arcaro’s laboratory focusing on the effects of environmental pollutants on breast cells. Rachel is currently working on a project studying blood samples from women in search of potential biomarkers for breast cancer by analyzing the high rates of methylation in the promoter region of certain genes which is suggested to cause physical condensation of genetic material leading to cancer. The purpose of the research is to help predict if a woman may get breast cancer and give her an opportunity to take preventative measures.

The summer before Rachel’s senior year, she interned with two traveling veterinarians in Connecticut. The veterinarians at Green Valley Veterinary Services and Coastal Valley Veterinary Services taught her valuable lessons working with both small and large animals. She was able to prepare and administer vaccines, prepare animals for surgery, restrain animals, restrain during dental floats for horses, assist during x-rays, observe acupuncture, check temperatures, write invoices, band goat kids, and communicate with animal owners. Because both veterinarians traveled, she was able to visit each farm or household and practice creating a connection with the clients. The experiences she gained with these two veterinarians helped her confirm her aspiration for becoming a large animal veterinarian.

Currently, Rachel is participating in a practicum with Stephen Purdy, DVM learning alpaca and donkey reproduction on a farm off campus. She has gained valuable experience learning how to use an ultrasound and reading the images. She has also learned how to examine sperm under the microscope and determine their quality. Rachel has learned about the reproductive systems of both alpacas and donkeys and how they are different from other species.

The VASCI Department at UMass Amherst has fully prepared Rachel to continue her education. She plans to attend veterinary school and hopes to have her own large animal practice serving cattle, sheep, goats, alpacas, llamas, pigs, and chickens. In her free time, Rachel enjoys hiking with her two dogs, camping, reading, attending Zumba classes, and traveling.