When Lesley Kessel Parisi won the TYLENOL® Future Care Scholarship, she knew she was headed toward a career in medicine. What she didn’t know was whether she would end up treating humans or animals. Ultimately, she chose animals – but while she was in veterinary school at Tuskegee University, she was excited to discover plenty of opportunities to contribute to public health as well.
“I learned that there were a lot of diseases I was going to be combating that could potentially affect humans,” she says. “So I learned that I was doing more than just treating animals. I was actually preventing disease in people.”
For Parisi, helping people in this community is especially important because she actually grew up with a lot of them. She and her husband, also a veterinarian, built their practice in Parisi’s hometown of Moorefield, West Virginia – a rural area with a need for good veterinary care. “I grew up on a farm here, and I saw that there were a lot of farmers but not a lot of veterinarians,” she says. “I find it satisfying that we’ve improved the standard of care locally, and we’ve provided help to a lot of farmers who needed it.”
Parisi has also discovered a love for treating companion animals, and for preventing diseases that could affect their owners. “We try to make sure that during each office consultation, we discuss the things that the dog or cat might get that could affect the owners or their children,” she explains. “Some examples would be parasites like giardia and roundworm. And of course rabies vaccinations keep children from getting a lethal disease.”
Parisi advises young veterinary students to keep an open mind about their careers. “Explore other opportunities, and learn about all aspects of the profession,” she says. “My best advice would be to not have tunnel vision.”