Danielle Witt is passionate about problem solving and the natural world and those who inhabit it.
At the intersection of those passions is a
future career in veterinary medicine.
“I want to make the lives of animals and their owners better,” she said. “We only have one world and I feel a calling to help protect it and its wildlife.”
The Cross Lanes, West Virginia, native graduates tomorrow (Friday, May 13) with a degree in animal and nutritional sciences. She was named the Outstanding Senior for the Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences.
When thinking about protecting the Earth and its living things, Witt connects with the idea of One Health, the intertwining of human, animal and environmental health.
“In terms of veterinary medicine, I want to focus on preventative treatment of animals so they and their owners can have a better quality of life,” she said. “In the human health sector, I want to work on nutrition education and gardening skills in Appalachia. Since West Virginia is ranked number one in states for obesity issues, I would like to help discuss the link between nutrition and fresh local food in helping to develop a higher quality of life.”
She also hopes to continue working to reduce single-use plastic waste.
“Throughout my college career, I have had the opportunity to grow my skills in environmental organizing,” Witt said. “At WVU, I have worked with staff, faculty, administration, and students to reduce single use plastic waste on campus. As the plastic industry negatively impacts humans, wildlife, and the environment, this combines all my passions.”
After graduation, she will attend the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.
What has been your most meaningful experience
Overall, I feel like the whole experience at WVU has been very meaningful. The friends I have made within the major of Animal and Nutritional Sciences have began to feel like family. I feel like I have made lifetime friends as well as had the access to beneficial resources. The relationships I had in college have been the most meaningful memories I have at WVU.
If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be and why?
I would trade places with David Attenborough. He has been a huge influence in the conservation movement and promoting the negative impacts of climate change. He has the opportunity to travel the world and interact with different animal species. Being able to raise awareness for protecting endangered species is something Attenborough has done which has always inspired me.
Tell us about your experience with research or an internship.
I worked at a vet clinic the summer of 2021 in Dunbar, West Virginia. It is a small animal clinic where I got to interact with clients, handle animals, learn about symptoms and disease, and fill medicine. Learning how to navigate working with clients was a valuable skill I learned. Something most people have in common is that they want to be listened to and cared about. By taking a little extra time to talk with the owner can go a long way and can some times reveal important information about the animal.
What is the most important thing you learned outside the classroom?
The most important life lesson I have learned outside the classroom is it is important to have a healthy work-life balance. If you are not giving yourself time to rest, your work will suffer. Being honest with yourself and others about your capacity is crucial for success and being a reliable person.
What is one thing you would have done differently during college?
I would have spent less time caring about what other people thought of my achievements and grades. Having the self confidence in yourself and the positive opinions of those close to you are what really matter. Stressing over what others score in a class does not improve your grades at all. Working to better yourself rather than comparing yourself to others is what betters you as a person.
What one piece of advice would you share with future students?
Even though school is very important, take time for self-care and make memories. College is about taking the opportunities that present themselves and growing as a person. Put yourself out there and try to make the most out of the situation.