Allergies were the main culprit in derailing Bethany DeZolt’s childhood career aspirations.
“I was the little girl baking brownies and cookies to sell to my neighbors to raise money for animal shelters,” she said. “I love dogs especially and always knew I wanted to spend my life advocating for them.”
Bethany volunteered and fundraised for the local Humane Society, selling t-shirts and holding pet supply drives in her hometown of Amsterdam, New York.
“I’m actually very allergic to animals,” she said. “My dreams of being a vet were crushed after I had my allergies tested.”
Shifting her career plans, Bethany earned her bachelor of arts degree in international affairs at George Washington University. Yet she found herself continually finding ways to relate her studies back to animals. In her “Conflict Resolution” class, she focused her project on the human-animal bond.
While studying at GW, Bethany interned at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), researching animal cruelty cases for the government relations team.
“The internship was an ‘aha’ moment for me. I learned that I could advocate for animals without directly interacting with them,” she said.
Bethany finished the last few months of her senior year remotely from home due to the pandemic. After graduating, she spent a year working as a patient care coordinator for Miracle Ear, while also launching a nonprofit called Buddy’s Besties (named after her Shih Zhu). She researched dogs at animal and rescue centers across the country to pair up with people looking to adopt.
“I was a matchmaker, helping people find their forever best friends,” she said.
Exploring her career options, Bethany connected with a graduate of the Master of Science in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) program at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, who described the program as “life-changing.”
Bethany realized the MAPP program would put her in a position to better advocate for animals. She started classes last fall.
“It actually is life-changing,” Bethany said with a laugh. “I absolutely love the MAPP program. I am so happy with where I am today, this is where I was meant to be.”
From touring a campus research laboratory in the “Animals in Society” class to learning about trophy hunting and roadside zoos in “Wildlife in Captivity,” Bethany explained, “Each course has surprised me in a different way. Every experience is completely unique.”
MAPP professors introduce students to professionals in their intended fields and ask about their interests to be sure to cover them in class.
“The professors are all amazing and come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences in animal welfare,” said Bethany. “Their goal is for us to succeed. They want to help us as much as they possibly can.”
While she could not fulfill her childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian, Bethany has found her calling pursuing a career in animal advocacy and welfare, possibly focusing on dogs and cruelty issues. She’s still deciding whether to specialize in community outreach or policy when she graduates in August.
“I’ve learned so much and already gained so many connections that will help me with whatever field I decide to go in,” said Bethany. “I’ve never felt the school pride I feel with Tufts, this program and the faculty. I finally found my place.”
Have a passion for understanding human-animal relationships and promoting the status of animals in society? The MS in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) program application deadline is April 1, 2022, to join the 2022-2023 class.
This unique one-year graduate degree program offers students the opportunity to explore the complex relationships between people and animals, and how those relationships are reflected in our culture, institutions, and public policy.
While students enter the program with different interests, skills, philosophies, and aspirations, all share a passion for understanding human-animal relationships and promoting the status of animals in society. MAPP graduates successfully pursue careers in policymaking, law enforcement, advocacy, public education, research, animal shelter management, and applied animal behavior. MAPP graduates also have outstanding success obtaining advanced training in Ph.D. programs, law, and veterinary medicine.
Learn more and apply.