MOUNT OLIVE - April Tucker always had a special kind of compassion for animals. “I was that kid who brought baby birds, turtles, rabbits, and strays into the house and asked to keep them, much to my parents’ objection,” she laughed.
But, it was a near tragic accident to her beloved cat, Pearl, that really convinced Tucker that she was meant to become a veterinarian. Pearl was accidently run over, leaving the cat with two broken legs. Facing the emotional turmoil of having to euthanize Pearl, Tucker opted for a surgical procedure that would remove one of the cat’s legs and place a plate in the other.
“I was devastated at the thought of putting Pearl to sleep since she was perfectly healthy, other than her legs,” Tucker said. “Seeing Dr. Mark Sasser at Waylin Animal Clinic save my cat’s life inspired me. I knew then and there that I wanted to save animals’ lives and be the person that others come to for help in desperate times.”
Tucker began her college trek at a four-year university near the coast. “I soon found out that the town was too busy and the school was too large,” she recalled. “The professors just didn’t seem to care about the students, and I didn’t seem to fit into the environment.”
In her sophomore year Tucker moved back home to Goldsboro and transferred to Mount Olive College. “At MOC I thought I would be just another college student. I assumed that I would be treated like a number and would receive my diploma by learning the exact same things as everyone else. After transferring however, I was pushed to determine my strengths and weaknesses, and to focus on bettering my strengths. I was told that I wasn’t just a student like everyone else, but that I had attributes that I could contribute to the school as a whole as well as to others. I found my niche in the Mount Olive College community by becoming a peer tutor and research student. These experiences have given me something to be proud of. I now believe that the degree I receive, while being on a sheet of paper like everyone else’s, reflects a college experience unique to me and one that has helped me realize who the real me is.”
A senior biology major, Tucker is on track to graduate in May. She would like to further her education at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Ultimately, she wants to open an emergency-based clinic. “While I know the importance of routine appointments and preventative care, it’s the excitement of helping emergencies as they come in and saving lives, that otherwise could be lost, that attracts me,” she said.
Tucker credits Mount Olive College and particularly Dr. Mickael Cariveau, chair of the Department of Science and Mathematics, for helping prepare her for graduate school. “I do cancer research with Dr. Cariveau which forces me to research answers and problem-solve my own experiments. It’s more than being given material in a classroom and being expected to remember it. I have to come up with my own questions and then go out and find the answers. Dr. Cariveau has also introduced me to veterinarians in the area as a way for me to have other mentors.” Through those connections, Tucker landed a job at Goldsboro Veterinary Hospital. The experiences gained there will be invaluable to her in applying for vet school.
Tucker is a self-professed overachiever. In addition to her school work and her part-time job she goes beyond the call by being a lab TA, taking care of the college’s saltwater fish tank, and helping out the department anyway that she can. Her professors describe Tucker as “very studious and extremely dedicated to making good grades.”
“April is an exceptionally gifted young lady. From day one I knew she would excel in our program,” Cariveau stated. “April is the type of student you just like to be around, she’s smart, funny, and naturally inquisitive. She works as hard outside of class as she does in class, and I can honestly say that she has made a lasting impression on me. She has a very bright future ahead of her and I am confident that she will succeed at whatever she puts her mind to.”
In response Tucker said, “Transferring to Mount Olive College was one of the best decisions I could have ever made. With the help of supportive and positive professors and staff members, I have gained confidence in myself and my intellect.”
Tucker is excited about the next step in her future. “As I have been finishing up my applications, I’ve had to recollect on the classes, awards, work, and extracurricular activities that I’ve completed in preparation for vet school. It makes me realize that my undergraduate career has flown by, but now I am at the point that I’ve looked forward to for so long. It’s the point where all of my long hours at school, time spent stressing about grades and studying for tests, and occasional sacrifices of my social life are going to pay off and it’s made me feel truly accomplished and proud of myself. I can’t wait to get started on the next step of my life.”
Tucker is the daughter of Joe and Delanie Tucker. Delaine is also a Mount Olive College graduate.
Mount Olive College is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The college, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.moc.edu.