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UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. – Though she came to Penn State an indecisive newbie, Brooke Migdal always knew she wanted to work with animals.
“When I was younger my parents took me to zoos and aquariums and I talked about animals all the time,” said Migdal. “They were the places I always wanted to be.”
In her sophomore year, Migdal’s interest in animals led her to enroll as a major in Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences at Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences. Shortly after entering college, she began working as a research fellow at the Poultry Education and Research Center with Paul Patterson, Professor of Poultry Science.
Migdal worked on two projects at the center. The first looked at the effects of various diets on broiler immune systems and the second looked at the effects of outdoor vegetation on pullet growth. She weighed chickens, examined cells and samples through a microscope, distributed food to the birds, and performed other tasks.
Migdal co-authored a presentation and abstract presented by Patterson’s lab on the first study in Summer 2020 and will be credited for her contributions to the second study in future publications. While these are important testimonials, the most valuable aspect of working at the poultry center could have been the opportunity to explore their career goals, Migdal said.
“When I first started, I was particularly keen to learn about the interaction between food and agriculture, and I got a lot of hands-on experience,” said Migdal. “It also gave me a new perspective on what I could do with veterinary medicine. I’ve learned that I can be a small or large animal vet, or even go into research or farming. “
Migdal’s work was valuable to Patterson too. “Brooke is a very motivated person and worked at the Poultry Education and Research Center in addition to her extracurricular activities and homework on a rigorous pre-veterinary program at Penn State,” he said. “She was of great help in these studies.”
“If you want to study animal or veterinary sciences, Penn State prepares you for graduate school. The lessons are interesting too. “
– Brooke Migdal, Senior in Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
For the summer of her sophomore year, Migdal was a marine mammal intern at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida. There she interacted with dolphins, otters, pelicans and sharks, helped animal trainers carry out their duties and ran animal briefing programs for visitors.
“One of the most interesting things I’ve learned is that trainers and vets work together to take care of these animals,” said Migdal. “For example, the otters had to learn how to enter a kennel to see a vet, and the trainers taught them different behaviors so they could receive the best possible care.”
She added that she has always had an interest in animal behavior and animal training. “I want to work with marine animals in my career,” she said. “This internship helped me to take another step in this direction.”
At Penn State, Migdal’s research and internship experience complemented her coursework, and she credited her classes with preparing for applications to veterinary school.
“If you want to study animal or veterinary sciences, Penn State prepares you for graduate school,” said Migdal. “The lessons are also interesting. I’m really glad I got the opportunity to take courses in subjects that are close to my heart in veterinary medicine. “
At Penn State, Migdal also became involved with Phi Gamma Nu, a professional development organization that focuses on preparing its members for the post-graduate workforce. She acted as recruiting chairwoman, external vice-president, vice-president for risk management and THON finance chairwoman and danced as a representative of the group in THON 2021.
“PGN exposed me to a professional environment,” said Migdal, referring to the organization’s focus on resumes, LinkedIn profiles and bogus interviews. “It taught me how to network and communicate in college and not wait for me to join the workforce to start these things.”
Migdal also acts as an Ag Advocate, helping, among other things, with the recruitment of freshmen for the College of Agricultural Sciences. During breaks at Penn State, she works as a technician assistant at Big Rock Veterinary Hospital, a veterinary clinic near her hometown of Beaver.
Although Migdal was inducted into the Veterinary School of Ross University in St. Kitts, Caribbean, she has several pending graduate school applications and isn’t sure where she will be this fall. Nevertheless, she feels comfortable with the uncertainty.
“I hope that wherever I go to school I can make the connections I need and get the right experience,” she said. “I just want to be a vet and work with marine animals. Wherever that happens, I’ll be happy. “