Madi Berger, a senior double majoring in animal science and dairy science, has been able to combine her love of animals—specifically horses—in both her academic and athletic pursuits (with a national championship thrown in for good measure).
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Pine Crest School
B.S. in animal science and dairy science
University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
I entered the university as an accepted member of the UGA Honors Program. Soon after my arrival to Athens, I walked onto the UGA varsity equestrian team. Being on this team has taken up a lot of my time outside of the classroom, but I would not trade my team and the chance to be around the horses I love for anything.
Between my freshman and sophomore years, I interned for South East Equine Veterinary Associates under the direction of Dr. Paul Caputo and primarily worked with Standardbred trotters and pacers at the Pompano Beach Isle Casino Racetrack.
At the end of my second year I was presented with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Rising Star award, which is presented to the top junior in the college.
The summer following, I interned at Dolphins Plus, a research and interaction facility in Key Largo, Florida, that is home to 12 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and one California sea lion. I assisted with the daily husbandry tasks of the animals, which included nutrition preparation, training and health management.
My third year at UGA I was fortunate enough to represent the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UGA President Jere W. Morehead’s investiture ceremony. My equestrian team also won the national championship in Waco, Texas. Additionally, I was presented the Award of Excellence from the university for being one of four students representing the top 1 percent of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. This year I was blessed to begin working on research projects in the College of Veterinary Medicine under Dr. Kelsey Hart, Dr. Roberto Palomares and Dr. David Hurley.
With my fourth year, I have been honored to step into some leadership roles that I am very passionate about. I was selected as a captain of the varsity equestrian team and voted vice president of the Block and Bridle Club. As a captain I hope to reclaim the title as national champions once again, and as vice president I hope to continue improving the club’s activities that give back to the public.
Family Ties to UGA:
The majority of my family attended the University of Alabama, so I headed into uncharted territory when I chose to attend the University of Georgia. I do, however, have a distant aunt who graduated from UGA with a degree in agricultural economics.
I chose to attend UGA because…
… of its strong Animal and Dairy Science Program and the chance to be a part of one of the top-ranked varsity equestrian teams.
My favorite things to do on campus are…
My favorite things to do on campus vary. I enjoy riding for the equestrian team. The team provides an amazing support system, and I have access to a beautiful facility with 60 horses. I also love cheering on the Dawgs between the hallowed hedges. The Bulldog Nation is electrifying when in full force. I also enjoy putting on wonderful events through the Block and Bridle Club, like the Great Southland Stampede Rodeo and the Classic City Showdown Steer and Heifer Show.
When I have free time, I like…
… to go hiking, running or rock climbing, pretty much anything outdoors. I also have quite the passion for photography. I live a very structured life, full of schedules, places to be and things that have to be accomplished. Photography provides me with an outlet for my creative side and allows me to escape constant structure. While I enjoy shooting a variety of subjects, my favorite is nature photography. Photographing nature allows me to combine my creativity with my favorite place: the outdoors.
The craziest thing I’ve done is…
… hike 9 miles into the Grand Canyon to the Supai Native American Village. I spent three days there providing veterinary care for the tribe’s horses, mules, dogs and cats. We handled extreme veterinary cases in a very primitive environment, all while getting to know the amazing members of the tribe. It was very rewarding to learn their culture and be able to help them with something that is so vital to their livelihood.
My favorite place to study is…
… Two Story Coffee Shop at Five Points. I love grabbing an Earl Grey tea, spreading out at one of the tables and getting to work.
My favorite professor is…
… William Graves, who teaches animal reproduction and dairy science classes. The animal and dairy science department is full of amazing professors, but Dr. Graves is something else. His passion for the subjects he teaches is only matched by the support he provides his students. Dr. Graves has always supported my pursuit of veterinary medicine, while encouraging me to broaden my horizons.
If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…
… my grandmother, Seryl Berger. She was an amazing woman who managed to raise three successful sons. I have been told by those who knew her that her looks, mannerisms and outlook on life can readily be seen in me. I can only imagine the amazing wisdom she could have imparted to me. I am saddened by the fact that I will never get this chance, but proud to know that a part of her lives on in me.
If I knew I could not fail, I would…
… become an equine veterinary practitioner with my own practice specializing in lameness, chiropractics and acupuncture. The general client for this type of practice is a competition horse. After growing up in the hunter/jumper world, I would love to continue a career where I get to work closely with horses in this industry.
If money was not a consideration, I would love to…
… travel to exotic locations to photograph beautiful wildlife. Quetzals in the rainforest, giraffes and big cats in Africa and giant pandas in China are only a few of the beautiful animals on my photography bucket list.
After graduation, I plan to…
… attend veterinary school and specialize in large animal medicine. Beyond that I have not decided if I want to go into private practice or return to a university to complete a residency and follow a path into academia and research.
The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…
… coming from behind to defeat one of our biggest rivals, the University of South Carolina, and claim the 2014 Varsity Equestrian National Championship. There was no greater feeling than jumping around and hugging my teammates as we celebrated a long year of hard work, bitter disappointment and ultimately sweet victory.