I have grown up around animals my whole life, and I have always felt most comfortable, and useful, helping and working with them. I have worked in veterinary settings, research labs, and shelters; all of which helped me experience animals in different ways. Through working in the animal behavior lab at OSU and Heartland Humane Society I have found I want to continue helping shelter animals and improving their adoptability. In addition to helping companion animals in the community, I am also passionate about marine mammals and marine conservation.
I chose my major so I could gain knowledge on a variety of animals. I had no prior experience with livestock but Animal Sciences provided that for me. Also, my emphasis in Animal Behavior allowed me to discover a field of study I was unfamiliar with and gave me the opportunity to look into other career paths that focused on why animals are the way they are which allowed me to learn how to provide better enrichment in their lives. My minor in Marine Conservation and Management was a perfect fit for me as well, as it focused on marine mammals, their biology, environments, and a call to action to protect them in the future. I hope that my studies can help me find a career where I am helping a variety of animals, which in turn will be improving the environment and community.
I gained hands-on experience through both the Departments of Animal Science and Fisheries and Wildlife. In Animal Science, I have been a research assistant for the Human Animal Interaction Lab for all four years of my time at OSU. In this lab, I have coded videos and analyzed cognition and attachment styles in dogs and cats. Through STEM Leaders, I was able to present the research I helped assist with at the STEM Leaders symposium. In addition to my coding experience, I have also been able to help with the "Do As I Do" summer dog training camp, and was a Teaching Assistant for ANS 341: Animal Behavior and Cognition. With Fisheries and Wildlife, I have taken classes at the Hatfield Marine Science Center and they were some of my favorite classes to participate in during my time at OSU. I went out into the ocean, was up close and personal with the marine life, helped with gray whale research, and presented at the CERM research symposium. Through connections and mentors I have made in the College of Agricultural Sciences, I was able to find outside work experiences at places like Heartland Humane Society and the Veterinary School on campus. All of these experiences helped me stay focused and engaged while keeping my goals in mind as I pushed through my studies.
Five years from now I hope to be continuing my passion for working with animals, whether that be in a shelter or the medical field. I would also like to go on and gain a Master's Degree. The mentors I have met have all helped me to believe in myself and have expressed their interest in my future endeavors. I know that I will be able to reach out for help and guidance along the way from them. A few have already helped me to make connections since graduating and helped me to network and begin looking into experience and career paths for the next stage in my life.
Being a first generation college student, I placed a lot of pressure on myself to do the best I could to make my family proud. I wanted to be the best at everything I did, and when I didn't fully meet the expectations I set, I was hard on myself. This, in addition to having to work while being a full-time student, led to a lot of stress and self doubt. Mentors and friendships I have made over the years, especially in my last two years at OSU, were what really helped me to regain confidence and push on. I realized that I have a lot to offer being a well-rounded individual and my skills plus networking can help me beyond the classroom and grades. Focusing on the positives and looking at all that I have accomplished helped me overcome the negative thoughts. Also, working in fields related to animals and my interests helped me to stay on track and see my possible careers come to fruition.
2020 has been very eye-opening for me. This was a very stressful and unexpected way to end my time at OSU. I was disheartened by the turn of events, but I am starting to look at it in a different light. I think that this time has shown a lot of people's true colors and it has made me realize what things are truly important. I am very thankful for mine and family and friends' health, as well as the opportunity to have received an education, as this is not the case for others. Everything happens for a reason, and I am hopeful for the next stage in my life.
I would tell incoming students to be open to change. I came in thinking I was going to veterinary school and was set on that goal alone. Had I not networked, I wouldn't have found the different career paths outside of becoming a veterinarian, such as animal behavior. I would also tell them to not give up and make the most of their time at OSU by getting involved in organizations and research that will expand their knowledge and allow them to meet people in their field. I was really glad to have joined LSAMP and STEM Leaders, as they are organizations that have given me lifelong friends, amazing mentors, and a place where I felt comfortable and able to believe that I could reach my goals despite being a minority in my field. Also, to follow their own timeline and path, as hard as it is, everyone's timing is different and comparing yourself to others isn't going to help you get to where you need to be.
Champayne was recently featured in AYA's "Womxn of Color Wednesdays" here.