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This animal lover plans to become a vet

Madison standing in front of a Bengal tiger skeleton. PHOTOS COURTESY OF MADISON TOONDER.

Madison Toonder loves animals. She loves them so much she spent her summer at a veterinary intensive program. She also interns at an animal hospital and volunteers at a zoo.

Read our interview with Madison, a 2015 Broadcom MASTERS finalist, below to learn more about her animal adoration, which fruit vet students practice surgeries on, and how she plans to achieve her lofty goals.

ON GOING TO STEM SUMMER CAMP: I chose the Tufts Cumming School of Veterinary Medicine’s two-week summer intensive in Massachusetts because it directly relates to my career path. Tuft’s program is designed to offer high school students insight into the rigors of veterinary school.

During the two-week program, we attended lectures, studied animal anatomy during fascinating dissections and hands-on palpitations, completed hospital rounds with 4th-year veterinary students, and explored the many different career-path possibilities within veterinary medicine.

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We learned the proper procedure for handling animals, how to perform routine check-ups on a variety of animals, and observed surgical procedures. One of my favorite opportunities was scrubbing into a canine spinal cord surgery — it was truly inspiring to observe such a complex procedure! Another favorite activity was suturing bananas to practice our techniques.

I got a much deeper comprehension of the demands of vet school. It was inspiring to not only meet like-minded people with shared passions, but also to discuss our diverse backgrounds and how to plan to achieve our lofty goals.

HOW BROADCOM MASTERS SATISFIED HER SCIENTIFIC CURIOSITY: Thanks to Broadcom MASTERS, my scientific curiosity was recognized on a national level, leading to invaluable experiences both at the competition and beyond. Doors were opened for other opportunities like Stanford University Online High School, where I’m now a student. Now I have the ability to stand out in highly competitive arenas.

Thanks to Broadcom MASTERS, my passion to pursue STEM has greatly strengthened.

Thanks to the recognition from Broadcom MASTERS, my passion to pursue the advancement of STEM has greatly strengthened. During my typical agenda spending countless hours on my research, in the veterinary hospital, or traveling around the country to attend science-related events and activities, I’m constantly reminded of how Broadcom MASTERS contributed to my continued love of science.

WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT STEM GOALS: Since Broadcom MASTERS, I was awarded the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Environmental Excellence Award and traveled to Orlando, Florida to participate in a series of conservation-related events. The finalists were also incorporated into the National Marine Educators Association Youth Conference, where we practiced the necessary skills of a conservation leader.

I aspire to be an exotic animal veterinarian, so attending Tufts was important to me. I regularly intern at my local animal hospital, where I shadow the veterinarians, observe surgical procedures, learn how to do a basic pet exam and how to conduct lab tests. I also volunteer at a zoo where I handle a variety of animals and educate the public about them.

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