Meet VRMCVM's Outstanding
Graduate for 2013
Rachel Baum of Gaithersburg,
Maryland has been named as the outstanding graduate of VMRCVM’s
Class of 2013, recognizing her significant academic
achievements, extracurricular activities, service to the school
and community, and her leadership.
Dr. Baum excelled academically and
received the 2010 Tyler J. and Frances F. Young Scholarship. In
2013, she was awarded the American College of Veterinary
Surgeons Award, the Amy L. McDermott Memorial Scholarship, and
the Southwest Virginia Veterinary Medical Association
Scholarship. She was also named the 2013 Outstanding Student
Ambassador in recognition of her passion, enthusiasm, and
professionalism when representing the college.
Baum served as chair of the college’s Honor Board, as well as a
college ambassador. She served as an on-call student veterinary
technician for two and a half years and was a North American
Veterinary Conference student representative for two years.
Once completing her master’s degree
in public health this fall as part of the school’s combined DVM/MPH
program Rachel hopes to expand and solidify her clinical skills
in private practice. After that she hopes to combine her love
for travel and work with a career in the federal government.
Like many veterinarians Rachel is a
long-time animal lover. Born in DC, and raised in Gaithersburg
by her proud parents, Kris and Michael Baum, Rachel began her
work with animals by corralling the family’s cats inside the
fort she built with her sister. She later became fascinated by
marine mammals, especially dolphins. Volunteering at a local
veterinary clinic in high school introduced her to veterinary
medicine; and, lucky for us, Rachel’s mom suggested she consider
it her future career.
Rachel speaks fondly of her durable
and nurturing mentorship with Dr. Meredith Miklozek, now
retired, of Diamond Veterinary Hospital in Gaithersburg. Rachel
worked at the clinic for seven years, growing from student
volunteer to skilled technician under the tutelage of Dr.
Miklozek. Her employment at the hospital continued until
veterinary school, and gave her the confidence that veterinary
medicine was a good fit for her.
Rachel also has many faculty
supporters at VMRCVM. Dr. Jacque Pelzer, director of admissions
and student services at the veterinary college writes, “Rachel
is the full package,” she said. “Not only is she passionate,
caring and kind, but she’s well liked by classmates, faculty,
and clients who have recognized the special qualities about
her.” Dr. Pelzer compliments Rachel for taking the initiative to
arrange a very unique senior externship with Australia’s
Healesville sanctuary near Melbourne.
While visiting the sanctuary’s
veterinary center on a family cruise in 2008 Rachel was
impressed by the hospital’s design for accessibility. The
facility promotes public awareness and involvement by permitting
access to the surgery suite and triage areas through glass walls
and closed circuit TV viewing. Rachel was determined to make it
back for an in depth experience, and she did so in the spring of
2013, spending 3 weeks working with injured or ill animals from
the Zoos Victoria’s collections or surrendered by the public or
wildlife rehabilitators, known as carers. Despite securing a
travel scholarship from the school she still had significant out
of pocket expenses for room and board. She was challenged to
find suitable housing and had to take some long bus rides, but
it’s clear she has no major regrets about this working visit
She has many great memories of her
time at the sanctuary, finding it hard to choose a favorite one
or two: “We had a kangaroo named Donny who came to us once a
week with his carer for a bandage change and debridement. He was
caught in the Donnybrook fires a few weeks earlier and [was]
found standing in hot ash with severe burns on both feet and
hands. I started seeing him about 4 weeks after his initial
presentation but already he was improving immensely. He had to
wear bandages on all four limbs for at least 5 weeks, but while
I was there we were able to leave his hands free. Reportedly, he
was very excited when he was free to use his hands again.” “A
young wombat (see the picture) came in for shifting leg lameness
(started on the left rear and moved to her right rear) so we
took radiographs and found an old fracture on the left limb. We
performed a joint tap on her right knee and found some
inflammatory cells so we put her on a course of antibiotics.
When she came back for the recheck she was doing much better and
walking without a limp.”
Her travel adventures will likely
continue, but Rachel will spend this summer in Blacksburg
chilling with her rescued pets, cats Porthos and Kiwi, and
hedgehog Spiny Norman; playing board games; reading; and
enjoying frozen treats.
We congratulate her for being the
outstanding graduate of her vet school class, and wish her the
best on what will likely be an illustrious career!