Jacqueline Genovesi knew from the time she was in elementary school that she wanted to become a veterinarian. “When I was young, if you loved animals you became a veterinarian,” she says. “There weren’t all that many career choices.” So during her years at Ewing High School, Jacquie took lots of science courses and worked part-time at different veterinary hospitals, some specializing in small animals and others in larger farm animals, to get as much experience as possible within the vet field. She joined her high school’s hawk-watching club and science club to explore her passion for animals and science.
Jacquie went on to attend Rider University in Lawrenceville, where she joined the pre-med program to prepare her ultimately to attend an out-of-state vet school where she could earn her doctor of veterinary medicine degree. That is, until she realized it was time to make a change. “As I went through school, even though I loved animals I didn’t like being a vet,” Jacquie explains. “I didn’t like dealing with the same thing over and over again—yearly shots, fleas, it was the same routine. I realized that if I became a veterinarian I was going to be bored out of my mind.”
During her senior year of college, Jacquie decided to make a career change. Her acting professor’s wife happened to be head of education at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. “I interned in the education department and fell in love with the place,” says Jacquie, who today, nearly 20 years later, is the Academy of Natural Sciences’ senior director of education. “The teaching programs are so diverse—we work with preschoolers on up. The museum has several different scientists that give talks on their research. There’s so much going on here that it’s like a playground for someone who loves science.”
Oh, and then there are the animals. The Academy of Natural Sciences has a live animal center featuring 100 different animals and 50 different species of birds, mammals, amphibians, bugs, you name it. Jacquie worked for years as a keeper in the center and now incorporates the animals into her educational programs. “I’m half educator, half scientist,” says Jacquie, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, a Master’s degree in environmental education and is currently working toward her PhD in education. “You can do so many things in a museum. People working in my education department have art, history, psychology and education backgrounds. And I’m never bored!”
Jacquie has the following “Top 5 Tips” for students considering a career with animals: