Closer to Her Dream

Headshot of Ava M.

Ava Mastrostefano, RWU Class of 2018

Major:  Marine Biology

Ava Mastrostefano came to RWU with a dream. And after four years exploring the biology and health of marine animals and their environment, she is on the brink of making her dream come true.

Since the age of 14, Ava Mastrostefano’s dream has been to attend Tufts University’s veterinary program. Mastrostefano came to RWU with that end goal in her sights and her experience here, from her undergraduate research work to her participation in the Honors Program, to her involvement in student life, has led to her acceptance into their prestigious program.

In addition to preparing for graduate school, Mastrostefano’s also researched the mental health implications of diabetes in teens and young adults and presented it at the annual Undergraduate Conference on Health and Society.

As a Type 1 diabetic herself, the research presentation meant more than just completing her applied practicum in public health. It allowed her to share her personal experiences with diabetes and helped Mastrostefano discover an interest in other areas of public health and how they relate to veterinary health and the ways human and animal health intersect.

This research proved to be pivotal because it wasn't just Mastrostefano's academic work that helped led to her acceptance to veterinary school, it was also other ventures she took on.

“In the interviews they were interested in things like my public health background, and being a tour guide and a tutor,” said Mastrostefano, who also minors in public health and chemistry. “They’re really looking for what sets you apart from everyone else.”

During her four years at RWU, Mastrostefano participated in plenty of extra-curriculars that set her apart from other applicants. Not only was she an admissions tour guide and a science tutor, she also worked alongside Assistant Professor of Biology Roxanna Smolowitz in her Aquatic Diagnostic Laboratory. She is a member of the Honors Program, attended and presented at academic conferences in Washington, D.C., and Seattle, studied abroad in New Zealand, and completed a public health-focused service-learning project in Peru with RWU’s chapter of the Foundation of International Medical Relief for Children (FIMRC).

“I took advantage of every opportunity I could and the whole experience has been so much more than I expected,” Mastrostefano said. “When I look back and think of all the things I’ve been able to do while [at RWU], it’s just unbelievable.”

But among all these opportunities, Mastrostefano never lost sight of that early childhood dream. After participating in the time-honored tradition of crossing the RWU Commencement stage, she will be looking forward to attending the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.