Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health
Tess Gannaway ’16
Hometown: Providence, RI
Education: B.A in Biology, Barnard College
I fell in love with Tufts the very first time I stepped onto campus. On paper Tufts was a perfect fit for me: It was close to my family, had a stellar International Medicine program, and offered a dedication to the burgeoning field of One Health. In the end, however, what really drew me to Tufts was the people. The admissions team, the faculty and the staff were so friendly and welcoming it dwarfed my interactions with any other school.
Tufts has afforded me a myriad of opportunities since I enrolled two years ago. In my first year I was able to participate in “Heifer Watch,” a selective that grants students the opportunity to stay late into the night watching pregnant heifers as they near their due date. During the summer following my first year, I worked at the AVM program as a counselor while also helping record lectures for first-year anatomy. During my second year, I worked at the wildlife hospital presenting at rounds and interacting with third and forth-year students. Thanks to the generous support of Tufts SCAVMA, I traveled to Colorado during the spring semester to attend the annual AVMA conference. Lastly, I was involved in some of the more unique clubs on the Tufts campus including Veterinarians for Global Solutions, the Tufts One Health Club and the Tufts chapter of the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative. This past summer funded by an NIH grant and supported by an exceptional faculty member, I also traveled to Thailand to study the effects of gender and diet on Opisthorchis viverrini transmission, a serious zoonotic disease that contributes to cholangiocarcinoma. I had access to all of these opportunities thanks to the dedication of the faculty and staff at Cummings School.
One of the most valuable things Cummings School has to offer are the students themselves. When I walked onto campus my first day, I was approached within minutes by my “big sib”. She gave me a hug and presented me with a scarf that she had brought back for me from her summer research in Indonesia. From that moment, she was there for me through every bad test, every doubt, and never asked anything in return. Over the past two years her spirit has been evident in many others in my class. My friends and classmates here have exemplified all of the qualities that Tufts itself takes pride in: honesty, compassion, selflessness and passion.
I remember so acutely the feeling of terror as I walked into my first big anatomy exam. I have always had a hard time with tests and the two and a half hour practical exam was my nightmare. At every station students were allotted forty seconds to identify the tagged structure. At each station my mind was blank with panic for about thirty seconds. Needless to say, this exam was my first failure. Like many at Tufts, I was used to being successful in all endeavors relating to my educational career. I was crushed at first and cried on the phone with my sister and mother for quite some time… but I eventually dusted myself off, swallowed my pride and went to talk to the professor. He helped me modify my study approach and prepare better for the next exam. In the end I survived the class. More importantly, though, than surviving the class, this experience helped me on the road towards accepting failure as an inevitable part of learning (still a serious work in progress I admit). It also reminded me of why I chose Tufts in the first place. If I had been at another school I may have been defeated by this first exam. The professor may not have had the time to let me know he or she cared. My big sib might have been too busy to listen to my meltdown and my friends may have been more concerned with their own successes than with my tribulations. Instead, I was at Tufts where the people I had surrounded myself with cared enough to help me cope with my first failure.
I’m not positive where I’ll be after graduation, but I can imagine myself in a small animal practice interacting with clients and helping furry (or scaly or feathered) family members. I can also imagine myself in Washington, D.C. working on animal-related policy or in the field in West Africa researching Ebola. I guess that my biggest hope is that my degree will take me somewhere where I can make a difference in the world in a new and exciting way each day.
- Cummings School