by Tania Roa, MAPP ’20, International Policy intern at World Animal Net
A day in the MAPP program is a day full of discoveries and revelations. Every day I learned something new about the history of animal advocacy and how I can contribute to improving animal welfare. Although I was given the freedom to focus on the topics that interested me the most, I learned how interconnected animal issues are. From debates about zoos and hunting to indoor cats, my professors and peers did not shy away from any topic related to animals. We analyzed the moral, economic, and societal aspects of each concept. The professors’ inclusive, discussion format gave me the opportunity to get to know my classmates as soon as the program began. I quickly learned what everyone was passionate about. Despite our different views and interests, we abided by a strong foundation of respect. We all understood that we were there for a common goal: to make the world a better place for animals and people.
Naturally, I spoke more with my peers who were also interested in wildlife conservation. Still, I managed to work with almost everyone in my cohort on various group projects including a survey on public perceptions of urban wildlife and the implications of octopuses in captivity. I went on multiple field trips to zoos, an aquarium, a wolf sanctuary, an animal research lab, and a dairy farm. Every field trip ended with a delicious meal and thoughtful conversations as we reflected on the pros and cons of each place. As someone who had never set foot in Massachusetts before the program, I was glad to be able to explore the East Coast with animal-loving people who generously showed me around (Katie did a great job of giving me a free tour of Boston!) I also never grew tired of our conversations. They fueled me to strive for goals I otherwise would not have considered. My professors and peers showed me how to advocate for animals in different ways and in my daily routine. I went home everyday processing vast amounts of information. Strangely enough, I tended to feel more uplifted than overwhelmed. My newfound support system encouraged me even when I felt helpless. I am eternally grateful for the continual reassurance they gave me. Without it, I may not have such fond memories of graduate school.
A day in the MAPP program is truly unforgettable. I know I’ll cherish my memories of the classes, my first time witnessing leaves change colors (I’m from California), and the positive atmosphere. I am confident that everyone from my cohort will continue to fight for a world that embraces different species and different walks of life. No matter how far I am from Massachusetts, I know I’ll remember my days in Grafton and attribute my future successes to the Center for Animals and Public Policy. My dream to make the world a better place is the same as when I applied for the program. However, the difference is now I have the skills to accomplish that goal. Thank you, MAPP, for giving me the knowledge on how to fulfill that dream.