Since Elaine Cassandra was in middle school, she knew she wanted to be a veterinarian, but her love for animals started long before that.
Cassandra is now a senior studying animal health and working at the University of Georgia’s Small Animal Rehabilitation Service as a student worker. Her nominator and supervisor, Jodi Seidel, celebrated with Cassandra as the Career Center recognized her April 10 as the university’s 2019 Student Employee of the Year.
Seidel, the Small Animal Rehabilitation supervisor, said Cassandra was “confident and proved early on that she was a fast learner. … Being able to trust in Elaine’s abilities has taken some stress off my day-to-day routine and allowed us to treat even more patients.”
Cassandra has done more than increase the number of patients to 12 in one day. In fact, her most notable work has been the transformational physical therapy that has allowed animals to reclaim their strength, agility and improve their overall quality of life.
Faculty and clients shared stories in the nominating letter, noting Cassandra’s ability to demonstrate compassion and patience even with the highest-needs patients (like a vizsla, named Gunner, who suffered from osteoarthritis in multiple joints and a neuropathy). Gunner’s owner, Cheryl, shared an example of Cassandra’s patience.
“On her first night of dog sitting, I came home to find Elaine on the kitchen floor next to Gunner’s dog bed (studying for a class, no less!),” she said. “That’s what it took to keep him calm and settled, and she didn’t think twice about having to do such.”
Cassandra said she was just doing what came naturally at work. She said working with the animals is “the best feeling in the world.”
Cassandra will continue to pursue her calling this fall as a student in UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
The University of Georgia employs more than 5,000 student employees. Each spring, UGA’s Career Center celebrates the contributions students make to labs, offices and programs across campus.
The Student Employee of the Year Awards Luncheon, co-sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, brought together 100 of the top student employees, based on nominations by supervisors.