Student Spotlight: Charlotte Clements C’23

Charlotte Clements C’23

What attracted you to Drew?

I loved the beautiful, small campus and Drew’s Biology Department. Drew gives students an opportunity to form close relationships to professors.

Did you know what you wanted to major in your first year?

I knew I wanted to major in biology. After I did well my first and second semester, and did an internship working with wild animals, I knew veterinary medicine was the right field for me.

Why are you interested in the field of veterinary medicine?

I love animals and I want to be a voice for those who don’t have voices.  I love helping others in general but I’m drawn to animals even more because they can’t help themselves.  I want to cross that bridge between humans and animals.

Tell me about your internship working with wild animals?

I intern at  Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford, NJ as a wildlife care intern. People bring in wild animals they’ve found injured or orphaned and we nurse them back to health and raise them until we can release them back into the wild. I’ve been working with raccoons, bunnies, fawns, opossums, squirrels, ducks, songbirds, skunks, hawks, owls, and so many other kinds of animals. I’ve learned how to diagnose medical issues, administer vaccinations, feed the animals, clean enclosures, treat wounds, prescribe medications, etc.

We take in possums hit by cars, bunnies hit by lawnmowers, orphaned animals abandoned by their mothers, raccoons trapped in attics, etc.  I assist in diagnosing animals, do intake assessments, keep records on all animals, and prepare and administer vaccinations to skunks and raccoons, among others. I also help feed the animals 3 to 5 times a day through a variety of methods.  Some animals eat through a syringe down their feeding pipe, raccoons get fed through bottles, and some animals, like possums, are fed through a tube. We feed them in a manner that mirrors how they are fed by their mothers. I help create the plans for feeding, cleaning, and treating wounds.

As of now, the Refuge has 3000 animals that move through different stages of treatment. We have baby fawns outside in barns and there are three levels in the main hospital.  We are having a boon of squirrels.  They are kept in small tanks and after they grow they go to an enclosure, then we release them back to the wild.  We also get in a lot of owls who get hit by cars or have flown into trees or signs. I also administer euthanasia when an animal’s chances of survival are small, for instance a baby who cannot survive without its mother. Unfortunately, some animals die on arrival.

We feed and treat the animals but we don’t play with them and we wean them off of being fed so they don’t depend on us to survive.  Raccoons are fed 5 times a day at first and then weaned down, one time a day until they are released. It’s important to build up their survival skills. A deer was fed by humans for a couple of weeks and the effect of being fed an improper diet of goat’s milk caused metabolic bone disease. We had to euthanize the deer.

The experience I gained in this internship is invaluable.  I went from never handling a wild animal in my life to being able to vaccinate a raccoon, my favorite wild animal. Raccoons are a lot more gentle, curious, and smarter than people realize. An added bonus is that I have a network of people at the Refuge that I can talk to about vet school.

Do you have any mentors at Drew?

Psychology Prof. Jill Cermele.  She’s my #1 go-to person.

What are your career goals?

I plan to go to Veterinarian school and hope to specialize in exotic animal medicine. I’d love to work with wildlife at a public or private clinic.

Any fun fact (s) you’d like to share?

I have 4 dogs, I really like music, I play guitar, and I did theater in high school.


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