Meet Dini Zucker, VG23

School: Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Degree: Master’s in Conservation Medicine

Home: I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and it will always be home for me. I feel most myself when spending time with some of my oldest friends there.

Why was Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine the right place for you?

I was a software developer and data analyst in the private sector for a number of years. The work was fun and challenging, but the problems we were trying to solve didn’t inspire me. I decided I wanted to put my software skills toward something I was genuinely interested in.

The master’s in conservation medicine program was perfect for me. Its focus on interdisciplinary solutions fostered my desire to combine my tech knowledge and my interest in conservation. Also, my peers came from many different backgrounds and viewed problems from angles that were completely different from the ones I was trained to see. It was an amazing experience!

What’s one thing you learned that you know you’ll carry forward into your career?

Listen to people! While that may seem obvious, many past and present conservation solutions don’t take into account the lifestyles and realities of the people they affect and rely on for success. For a solution to work, it must be sustainable, and sustainable solutions can only be created with the direct input and buy-in of affected communities.

One adjective that describes you?

Persistent. The thrill of solving a problem, and especially of spending the time to solve it in the best way possible, motivates me greatly. Once I start a project, I have to see it through to the end. That can be challenging, especially when I’m nurturing a project for many months, but I always find it rewarding to produce an outcome that I’m really proud of.

Where will you be in ten years?

I hope to be working a job that allows me to continue using my software skills while also regularly interacting with the environment I’m building solutions for (so I can get out from behind a screen!).

Over the past year, I’ve held a couple different positions with the National Park Service. There is a real need for technological modernization in the Department of the Interior, and really, the government as a whole. I’d love to help in that movement. And it would be cool to live somewhere in the mountains!

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