Biology major and fine arts minor Natalia Amaral Marrero ’18 has always known that she wanted to be a veterinarian. “As a kid, I just wanted to work with animals,” she says. “Now, I know I want to go into the profession to help people properly care for animals, whether they’re pets, food animals, or wildlife.”
Now, as she prepares to head off to Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine this fall, she is one step closer to that goal.
“I know it will be very rigorous and time-consuming,” says Amaral, “but I’m excited for the challenge.”
A native of Puerto Rico, Amaral was buoyed by a dizzying list of academic accolades throughout her time at Haverford: she was a Chesick Scholar, a José Padín Scholar, and a Juan Williams Scholar. On top of all that, she found time to juggle two different jobs and served on three different Customs teams as a Customs Person (CP), Ambassador of Multicultural Awareness (AMA), and Honor Council Orienteer (HCO).
Despite this exhaustive array of extracurriculars, her focus never wavered. Amaral was named a co-head of the Haverford Pre-Vet Society her sophomore year, and she worked in the campus biopsychology lab as a lab animal caretaker her senior year. She even chose her major because it tied into her desire to be a veterinarian.
“I‘m excited for a career that will constantly challenge my understanding of biology in a context that I find completely rewarding and beneficial to society,” she says. “I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to complete my undergraduate education in Haverford, where I was able to prepare for vet school by gaining a general literacy in STEM fields, learning the necessary skills and concepts, while also becoming more competent in academic spaces that are not restricted to my biology major.”
Amaral had such a great experience at Haverford, in fact, that it played a part in her decision to commit to Purdue. Though she first became familiar with its vet school through Access to Animal-Related Careers (A²RC)—an intensive two-week program that strives to increase representation in veterinary medicine—it was its similarity to Haverford’s campus culture that ultimately sealed the deal for her.
“I knew their program was right for me because I saw firsthand their commitment to creating a more inclusive environment in a historically white profession,” Amaral says. “One thing Haverford really instilled in me, especially through the Chesick Scholars program, is the importance of seeking out a support system. In Purdue, I witnessed that same emphasis on building community, and it felt right to call this institution my future home.”
This interest in community isn’t limited to her schooling. As she sees it, a career in veterinary medicine extends beyond caring for animals to caring for people and the environment, too.
“After four years, I will have the skill set to [treat animals],” she says, “but I’m hoping that I can also use my degree to cause greater change, such as influencing policy regarding animal welfare, public health, and environmental protection.”
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.
Photo: Aspiring veterinarian Natalia Amaral Marrero ’18 stands outside Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, her home for the next four years. Photo courtesy of Natalia Amaral Marrero ’18.