Ds Scholarship

Love for animals leads outstanding grad to different career path

December 3, 2021

Gabriella Mada pursues her passion for nature in the CISA Applied Biosciences program

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable Fall 2021 alumni.

Gabriella Mada has always been attracted to animals, wild or domestic. When it came time to attend college, she chose to major in veterinary studies.

But, as often happens with majors, she changed her mind and decided that it was not right for her.

“I have a big heart for animals,” said the Phoenix native. “I love animals, I love nature. And I said, OK, maybe that wasn’t the way. It turned my sophomore year into where I am now.”

Mada, who was nominated as an outstanding undergraduate student in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, will graduate this month with a bachelor’s degree in applied biological sciences (natural resource environment), a minor in sustainability and a certificate in wildlife management. She continues her education towards a master’s degree in the same subject through the 4+1 accelerated programme.

“After graduating with a graduate degree, I hope to work in this field in a career path related to conservation or in biology,” she said. “So I see myself as a wildlife biologist or maybe a zoologist, an area somewhere in the conservation field or associated with animals.”

Question: What was the “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: Everything I’ve learned so far from the classes, I was like, ‘Wow, this might be what I’m interested in – my calling, I guess you could say. Just the aspect of being able to make a difference – preserving endangered animals or wildlife animals and then global warming. I thought this was a big problem.

Q: What did you learn while at ASU — in class or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

a: One of the habitat management courses I took the previous semester, we had a lot of group work and I realized that I really like working with people and meeting other students who have the same feelings. You only learn from what they have been through or what they know. I loved working with and collaborating with other students.

Q: Why did you choose Arizona State University?

a: Not many Arizona schools have prior veterinary medicine to study. One of the big choices that made me choose ASU because I majored at that time and also got a full scholarship to come here. (Attended Mada Arizona State University on an Obama Scholarship).

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while you were at ASU?

a: Dr.. Pedro Chavarria. Here at Polly’s campus I had some classes with him. After that he became my mentor/adviser for MSc. So he guides me through my application project and points me in the right direction. I would say the best advice I learned from him is that time management is a major struggle or challenge for most students. The advice he gave me was to make time for yourself and really focus on the likes of your mental health as well as trying to juggle everything else. Define your priorities and then your studies so you can do a better job. That was great advice that I took to heart.

Q: What is the best advice you would give to those still in school?

a: continue. There is light at the end of the tunnel! I promise that your hard work will pay off. I know there are a lot of challenges students face. But in the end, you feel the weight descending on your shoulders. So tell any student in the lower grade or still going, keep it up. I’ve got this.

Q: What is your favorite place on campus, whether to study, meet friends, or just think about life?

a: Off the Polytechnic campus – well, outside in general. I like to be outside. You hear the background noise and you hear the birds. I am more into nature. I like to feel the sun over me while I study.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you do?

a: The problem that worries me the most is global warming. Why don’t government officials talk about it? Why do they put her behind the wheel? So if I was given $40 million and I had to solve a problem, I would put that money into that problem. Because I really think that’s an important thing. It affects our wildlife, animals, us, and people in general.

Top photo courtesy of Gabriella Mada

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