Winter 2013

A Decision Made Easy

Alum's philanthropy put Matthew Gordon's career aspirations within reach

By Laura Ferguson

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Matthew Gordan, V12, says veterinary medicine is his calling.

Matthew Gordon, V12, the first recipient of Andy Kaplan’s scholarship, sizes up his career choice with words that could be those of his benefactor: “It’s a calling. This is what I have to do.”

He’s on his way, interning at Blue Pearl, a specialty and emergency veterinary clinic in New York City. He says the job validates the choices he’s made along a winding path of self-discovery.

Growing up in Baltimore, Gordon befriended a menagerie of parakeets, hamsters, mice and guinea pigs. Then his father brought home an irresistible mutt. By high school, Gordon was volunteering at a veterinary clinic. He went on to major in animal science at the University of Maryland in College Park.

But there was a second passion, music. As a kid he had traded his ukulele for a guitar, and played in a band in high school. In college, he pursued a minor in music and then studied jazz performance. But when he started working again at the veterinary clinic, he realized how central the well-being of animals was to his own. Tufts offered two compelling options, a master’s in animals and public policy and the D.V.M. program. He applied to both.

“I had an interest in animal welfare—specifically shelter, zoo animal and farm animal welfare—but was also interested in wildlife conservation,” he says. “The diversity of the master’s program seemed like a good opportunity to explore all of these topics.” Wait-listed for the veterinary program, he earned the master’s in 2008 and then went to work for the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Within a year, though, he was back at Tufts, this time as a D.V.M. student.

“I discovered I am more of a hands-on person and that I definitely need to have something different to do every day,” he says. At Tufts, he helped organize free vaccine clinics in partnership with the Worcester Housing Authority and tracked a population of gopher tortoises in Georgia for a summer research project.

Now living in New York City with his girlfriend and two dogs and four cats—all but one from a shelter—he is glad he had the courage to follow his calling. And he is especially thankful that Andrew Kaplan helped ease the financial burden of that decision.

“It’s great to see that Dr. Kaplan and others who are so successful are helping students,” he says. “The value of a scholarship that you don’t have to repay, I can’t put it into words. It’s amazing! It’s absolutely necessary to have these scholarships in place, and to have them put in place by a vet is really cool. If ever I am in that position, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”

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