Purdue Veterinary Nursing Alumna Working with Sea Turtles Shares Her Career Path with Students

Friday, April 22, 2022

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Katie's graduation portrait
Katie D’Addato, RVT (PU AAS 2021)

It may seem like a long and difficult path to get from Lynn Hall to a job that involves working with sea turtles, but for Purdue Veterinary Nursing alumna Katie D’Addato, RVT (PU AAS 2021), it was a path that she traversed relatively quickly. Katie shared her story virtually as a special guest speaker at a meeting of the Purdue University Veterinary Nursing Student Organization (VNSO) March 28. Hosted virtually over the Zoom platform, the meeting featured an informal discussion led by Katie, who shared about her educational background and experience working in one of the many career paths veterinary nursing students can take in their field.

Katie leans forward on the side of a large aquarium holding a target down into the water as a sea turtle swims toward it
During an internship at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida, Purdue Veterinary Nursing alumna Katie D’Addato, RVT (PU AAS 2021) leads one of the aquarium’s permanent resident Loggerhead sea turtles through target training. (Photo provided)

Katie began her education at Purdue University double majoring in fisheries and aquatic sciences and wildlife, graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the College of Agriculture in 2019. She then came to the College of Veterinary Medicine where she graduated in August 2021 with an associate’s degree in veterinary nursing. Katie is now a credentialed veterinary nurse working at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island (NCARI).

Katie brings together all of her educational background in her role as a sea turtle rehabilitation technician in the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center at the aquarium. The center serves as a hospital for sick and injured sea turtles in the Outer Banks region of North Carolina.

During her Zoom presentation for VNSO, Katie shared the typical tasks and daily operations that are part of her position, including dealing with many common conditions found in the sea turtles at NCARI, as well as some of the fun aspects of her job, like the release of 11 sea turtle patients back into the ocean last month – which was shared live on the aquarium’s Facebook page. Click here to view the video. Katie also shared her history of professional and volunteer experiences that have been beneficial in preparing her for her current position and some of the things students should expect if they plan to go into the same field.

Katie wears a mask as she feeds a sea turtle inside a large aquarium pool
Katie feeds a Loggerhead sea turtle patient admitted to the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation (STAR) Center at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island, where she currently works as a sea turtle rehabilitation technician. (Photo provided)

Katie encouraged the students by saying, “Make the most of your time and the opportunities you have to make yourself more well-rounded.” She also reminded the veterinary nursing students that, when applying for positions, their qualifications, connections, and experiences will all hold weight and help make them stand out as job candidates.

The Zoom session concluded with a Q&A session during which Katie shared more stories and details about her job. To leave VNSO members with some final advice, Katie recommended, “If there’s something that’s of interest to you, it may be a path that’s a little different, but you got this. You can do it.” Throughout her presentation, Katie reminded students of the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity they can.

Katie’s steps toward her dream job, including her time at Purdue and some of her unique internship opportunities, also were highlighted by the College of Agriculture in an alumna profile posted in July 2021. Click here to read that story.

Writer(s): Hailee Rolofson, PVM Communications Intern, and Allison Gardner | pvmnews@purdue.edu

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