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Love of Animals Leads to Internship

Published: July 07, 2010
Micol Castelbolognesi ’11 didn’t know what ringworm was until she started volunteering at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. Now she recognizes it under a microscope.

The biology major spent the first part of her summer turning her volunteer experience into a for-credit internship. Working in the surgery ward, she prepped animals for surgery by shaving and scrubbing them, helped with intubation, inserted microchips, read lab samples and sterilized surgical tools.

“Because she has spent so much time with us, she knows the animals and the system. She’s even been inducing anesthesia,” said Dr. Terry Spencer, the center’s veterinarian. “It is difficult to do our jobs here without volunteers like Micol. We really need the extra eyes.”

Castelbolognesi grew up in Italy and lives in Switzerland. She came to UT, attracted by the American style of higher education, and hopes to attend an American veterinary school after graduation. As a freshman, Castelbolognesi’s roommate found out about her penchant for animals and suggested she volunteer at the Humane Society.

It took two years, but Castelbolognesi started volunteering to walk dogs and play with the cats in early January 2010. As the spring semester came to a close and her time became less constrained, Castelbolognesi turned her volunteer experience into an internship, spending four days a week at the clinic, absorbing as much as she could.

“The only thing I can see myself doing is working with animals,” said Castelbolognesi, who grew up riding horses on her grandparents’ ranch. “My dream is to wake up in the morning and go help animals.”

The experience at the Humane Society has been invaluable, she said, allowing her opportunity for hands-on work from reading fecal samples with the microscope to prepping dogs for surgery. A dog she cared for was named Micol by the staff in her honor and was adopted two days later. 

While the internship is adding value to Castelbolognesi’s resume, volunteer coordinator Ben Moehnert said it is the Humane Society’s cats and dogs that are receiving the real benefit.

“I wish we could have all of our volunteers be like Micol. She is always willing to help with anything we need and is a very hard worker,” Moehnert said. “She is a huge asset to our organization, and we are lucky to have her.”

Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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