Emma Cappelloni – Second Place Winner

5th Grade Murch Elementary School

Last June after completing fourth grade, I began preparing for an adventure with my mom to travel to Moldova, one of the poorest former Soviet republics, to see my maternal grandmother. With all our bags packed and with only hours before we had to go to the airport, I discovered that my pet hamster, Rosita passed away. Grieving her loss on the long trip to Moldova I thought about my love for animals and how I desired to be a veterinarian. On our first full day in Moldova, my grandmother took me for a long walk talking nonstop to me in Romanian. Unable to understand anything she said I focused on my surroundings in this foreign land. Among the rundown buildings, I noticed a lot of homeless and sickly dogs and cats. That night as I lay awake in my bed trying to avoid the aggressive mosquitos in my grandmother’s home, I kept thinking about all the homeless animals I encountered earlier in the day and wondering how I could help similar animals in the future. When the sun rose in the morning, I had an idea. I thought about a trip to Mexico with my dad a few years ago when I first decided I wanted to become a veterinarian after seeing some homeless dogs scavenging for food. Thousands of miles away from Mexico in Moldova, I expanded on my initial goal and envisioned operating a veterinarian clinic in the United States for half the year, while spending the other half of the year traveling to underdeveloped countries providing free veterinarian care to animals in need. It would be like a one-woman worldwide veterinarian clinic. My dad, who is a former Peace Corps volunteer, loved the idea and offered to be my assistant. Even though my Moldovan trip just started, it had inspired me to do good things for vulnerable animals. I understand that becoming a veterinarian and achieving my goal to create a worldwide clinic will be very challenging. But I believe I can do it. I also have started developing the skills I will need to become a veterinarian. I have been participating in every math or science competition that I can find and studying about those subjects during my free time. I hope my hard work will ultimately make a positive impact by helping many vulnerable animals throughout the world. As I pursue this journey, I will keep a quote from Jane Goodall close by. Dr. Goodall once said, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”