Carnegie Mellon University

Chelsea Weber

Chelsea Weber (S 2012)

Biological Sciences major, pre-vet student, wildlife rehabilitator


Working with a menagerie of patients

Chelsea Weber came to Carnegie Mellon to pursue her dream of becoming an equine veterinarian, which may seem a bit strange when you consider that Carnegie Mellon doesn’t offer a pre-vet major. But the decision made perfect sense to Weber.

“Everyone knows that Carnegie Mellon is a great school with really strong academics, so I knew that I would get a good education. And there are a lot of opportunities in Pittsburgh for getting veterinary experience,” said Weber, a junior biological sciences major.

Weber has taken advantage of those opportunities. This past summer, she interned at The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, which is part of the Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania. Between the two venues, she worked with everything from sick fish and turtles with cracked shells to a falcon with an injured wing and a goat that needed a penicillin injection—and everything in between.

Weber initially pursued the internship at the Pittsburgh Zoo to develop firsthand experience working with large, exotic animals like tigers and jaguars.

“I knew I wanted to do large animal medicine, but I didn’t know if I wanted to specialize in horses or exotics. I went back and forth with what I wanted to do. That’s why I wanted to work at the zoo, just to explore,” she said.

During her internship, she learned countless lessons not readily available in classrooms, including that zoo vets can never really trust the animals they work with.

“You can do surgery on a tiger and that’s awesome. But you can’t stand next to the tiger after the surgery to make sure it’s doing OK.”

Horses are a different story. Although Weber appreciates that you have to have respect for horses, you don’t have to fear them when you are standing next to them. She starting working with a horse vet the summer after her sophomore year in high school, and she was hooked.

“I love working with large animals because they pose bigger problems. That’s really what it comes down to for me in wanting to be a vet — it’s science and it’s problem solving, which is really interesting and fun.”

Weber finished her internship at the zoo with a firm knowledge that specializing in horses — and not exotic zoo animals — was the right choice for her. She also learned a vital lesson: “It’s important to figure out what you don’t want so you can focus on what you do.”