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Pre-Vet Field Study Experience

By Amanda Kondo

I am currently pursuing the pre-vet path to fulfill my childhood aspiration of becoming a wildlife veterinarian someday. I initiated this club to foster a community of student-athletes who share a mutual passion for aiding others and an enthusiasm for scientific exploration. I'm thrilled to recount my recent fieldwork experience in Costa Rica, which took place this past summer.

I discovered the BIOMA program through the Departmental Integrative Biology newsletter, which regularly highlights intriguing research opportunities. While it's easy to skim through or ignore these newsletters, I highly recommend giving them a closer look, especially when planning for the summer. I stumbled upon the program in the winter of last year, and the application deadline for the summer program was early March. Fortunately, I was able to secure a spot for the two-week June expedition to Costa Rica.

As the time approached, my excitement grew. This marked my first solo trip to a foreign country, which was admittedly a bit daunting. However, upon arrival, I was greeted warmly by friendly guides and fellow students of similar ages who shared my passion for wildlife biology. We were all novices in fieldwork so there was some initial uncertainty around the experience, but it was comforting to be around like-minded peers. Eventually, we reached Ostional, a three-hour drive on a rugged dirt road from the airport, where we were accommodated by welcoming host families.

Our days were filled with various activities, including hiking and learning about sea turtle conservation in Ostional. Nights were dedicated to patrolling for sea turtles from midnight until 4 AM. Navigating through the pitch-black sand was tiring, yet when I saw my first female olive ridley turtle, I felt like the expedition was more than worthwhile. I felt a twinge of embarrassment as tears welled up, but I soon realized my peers shared a similar emotional response. Night after night, we patrolled and encountered more turtles, forging stronger bonds with each passing day.

Venturing to a new place with unfamiliar faces strangely felt comforting—it echoed the camaraderie of my team, bonded by a shared passion. The exhaustion brought us closer, reminiscent of the closeness forged during early morning team workouts. In a place far from home, I felt a sense of belonging—an experience etched into my memory.

If you’re on the fence about doing an excursion like this one, just know that any double day of being a D1 athlete is way harder. You can do it!

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