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Student Testimonials

Charissa -- Wildlife Science major

When I was first accepted to Virginia Tech, I had no idea a wildlife science major even existed. I planned on being a veterinarian. I realized the College of Natural Resources and Environment was an option and switched before classes even started.

By the end of the first semester, I was reveling in the glory of wildlife - being a big fan of shows like "National Geographic" and "Wild Discovery," I was naturally enjoying classes such as Intro. to Wildlife and Fisheries, and Intro. to Natural Renewable Resources. The college was small, so other students in my major classes became true "classmates." As my college experience continued, my classes became smaller - I watched as these familiar faces struggled through tests, projects, and papers with me. I also became closer to the professors (there is not a bad one in the bunch!); I realized that if I exhibited determination towards achieving my goals, they would work just as hard as I was to help me accomplish them. Most of the faculty members are also very well known in the wildlife field (I have name-dropped and impressed many a person outside of the academic arena). I joined a few of the many professional organizations available; as a result, I had tons of opportunities to network. Another incredible bonus I didn't realize until after a few semesters had passed was the ability to gain practical research experience by working with graduate students. All of the graduate students are extremely hard workers and often need help with technical aspects of their projects. My resume had plenty of opportunities to shine at the many career fairs, interview sessions, and faculty/student/potential employer mixers our college coordinates.

I was slowly beginning to realize that a career in wildlife sciences appealed to me just as much as one in the veterinary sciences. By the end of my sophomore year I was not as sure if I wanted to be a vet, but also wasn't sure if I had what it took to be in the wildlife field. It was then that I was involved in the summer internship that changed my life! I trapped black bears for the Cooperative Allegheny Bear Study the summer of 1997. I became enthralled with wildlife that summer - working hands on with creatures like black bears. The following semester, I jumped headfirst into all of my classes, now working towards the solid goal of being a wildlife biologist. That spring semester I was involved in my first undergraduate research experience, monitoring and measuring bear cubs. During the winter months, Virginia Tech has black bears right by campus, and I went to the bear pens every day (and night) for my project. Having the opportunity to work in the field and lab gave me the ability to view my class studies from a practical perspective, and furthered my comprehension and understanding of my field even more.

My academic advisor helped me get a summer internship with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the summer of 1998, and I have been with them ever since. I was able to secure a permanent position with the government agency OF MY DREAMS as a result of the schooling, counseling, and support Virginia Tech has lent me. I have spoken with other students and employees about their colleges, and none seem to even hold a candle to Virginia Tech. VT's secret is in their excellent faculty - you see ALL of their names on journals everywhere, so they are definitely in touch with the biological and social aspects of wildlife science. What is even more impressive than their commitment to science is their commitment to our students. They seem to consider it a personal victory if they produce a topnotch student, and they make sure they provide all of the facilities necessary to meet that end, including and especially support.

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