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Aiesha Sojourner

Master’s in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) Candidate 2021

Education:
B.A. in Psychology from the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at The City College of New York, 2018

What were you doing before entering the Masters in Animals and Public Policy (MAPP) program?
During my last semester at City College, I worked at an Endocrine Clinic, helping the Vet with his research focusing on hyperthyroid cats. The following year, I also joined the BluePearl team, an emergency & specialty veterinary hospital. I gained so much knowledge as a surgery assistant and was able to assist the Veterinarian during surgery. This year at Heart of Harlem Veterinary Clinic, I used my surgical knowledge to free six puppies from an intact amniotic sac, cut and suture the umbilical cord/”belly button”, and induce breathing (you can find the video on their Instagram) . The team there is exceedingly kind, and the practice manager was very diligent during COVID. Due to her efforts in keeping with regulation, our small practice was able to stay open during the pandemic.

Interests in and experience with animals?
I have spent nearly ten years in animal welfare working as a veterinary assistant, dog walker, kennel attendant, farm hand, you name it. My most rewarding experience—albeit short-lived—was as a New Hope Liaison at Manhattan’s Animal Care Center (formerly known as Animal Control), where I worked with rescue groups throughout the Tristate and New England, to find homes for domestic and exotic/wild animals. This was achieved mostly online and by phone, but I did get to work hands-on assisting the Veterinarians, kennel workers and transport team. I always thought of pursuing a way to help animals through law/policy, but always pictured myself at an NGO as a female Steve Irwin! My time at MACC, using my interpersonal skills to network with rescue groups, along with all my hands-on experience, has solidified my interest in working behind the scenes doing animal policy.

What aspects of MAPP led to your decision to join the program?
I decided to join MAPP because of its long history and network. I knew I would get a top-notch education and overall experience. The campus is beautiful, and the faculty is warm and welcoming. After staying the weekend for the open-house, I felt I belonged here.

What do you want to focus on at MAPP? What drew you to this?
I want a deep understanding of policy and law in relation to conservation, as well as One Health efforts, so I can help serve (and save) the planet to the best of my ability.

What are your career goals?
I want to work as a Policy Analyst at the United Nations, an NGO focused on “Big Cats”, or the federal government, to further the pursuit of Wild Cat Conservation. I want to combine psychology with policy and conservation, because not much will change if the public’s mindset stays the same. Whenever I speak to someone or a family member about the plight of animals or my career goals, I am met with a defeatist attitude. I really enjoyed psychology and gained an interest in cognitive neuroscience; therefore, I may be pursuing an Interdisciplinary PhD soon after graduating that fulfills those interests.

What are your outside interests?
My new hobby is DIY furniture! Other than that, I love to dance, write comedy sketches, and watch sci-fi.

Number of pets? What?
I have one elderly, but healthy, curvy girl named Pantera. A 15 year old domestic shorthaired tabby I call by any name but Pantera: Panda, Snorlax, Jiggly Puff, Lady Lumps, Lumpisha, Lumpy Space Princess, etc.

Is there anything else you would like to share?
I am excited and scared to embark on a completely new journey that will change the course of my life forever. I’m sure I’m not alone in that, so I want to remind myself, current and prospective students, of our common end-goal to work together to help save those who cannot help themselves. In order to do that, we must push past the fear, and maintain a healthy mindset by taking care of ourselves first and foremost.

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