When C’yona “CeCe” Edwards ’23 began planning for this summer, she met with Bethani Burkhart, director of career and academic development. Knowing Edwards is a biology major with a veterinary medicine concentration, Burkhart suggested that she consider spending the summer as an intern at an animal hospital in the area. Before long, Edwards had made some phone calls and found a veterinarian who could use help for the summer. “They were like, ‘Great, we would love to have you,’” recounts Edwards.
Starting in early June, she began spending three days a week at Brookview Animal Hospital in Parma, Ohio. As a veterinary assistant, Edwards works with Brookview’s doctor and owner of the practice, Anthony C. Somma, D.V.M., M.S. “It’s a lot of hands-on experience, which I love,” says Edwards. She, along with a team of other veterinary assistants, supports Somma with exams, surgeries and administrative duties.
Nearly halfway through her internship, Edwards already has quite a bit of insight into a career in veterinary medicine, as well as the kind of tricks of the trade gained on the job. While assisting with an exam of a young cat, Edwards learned how to handle animals that are less than eager to be at the animal hospital. “I’ve been bit a few times, actually,” says Edwards, who has accepted these slight physical injuries as a part of the job.
She has also had the chance to scrub in on several surgeries at Brookview. Not considering herself a squeamish person, Edwards hasn’t hesitated to step in and assist when needed. In fact, Edwards points to the dissection of a cow’s eye during a middle school science class as a pivotal event in her life which led to her interest in veterinary medicine. “I love eyes. That sounds so weird, but the eyes are just so interesting,” she says. After graduating from Hiram in spring 2023, Edwards intends to continue her education to become a veterinary ophthalmologist.
Her interest in animals, however, began years before her middle school science class. “I grew up with a lot of pets,” says Edwards. “I had turtles, cats, dogs, parrots. We had a lot of random animals.” She recalls when, at the age of five, she had to say goodbye to her favorite cat Frankie after the animal was hit by a car. She saw firsthand the crucial role that a veterinarian can play in the lifecycle of a family pet.
Edwards isn’t looking forward to saying goodbye to Brookview Animal Hospital in mid-August when her internship ends. She has grown close to the team there, including the staff of other veterinary assistants who have helped her. “I’m the newest one there, and they’ve all been there for years. They’re all college students also, so they understand what I’m going through, which has been really nice,” she says. She has been appreciative of the lessons they’ve taught her as the new member of the team. “They told me not to be scared. Don’t be nervous about being new, learning new things, and being in contact with the animals.”
With a few weeks left at Brookview, Edwards plans to soak up as much experience as possible each day and cherish the unexpected encounters she has with the animal hospital’s clients: “One time, someone brought in a monkey, which I was so excited about.”