Michelle Zarif ’01 always knew she wanted to be a veterinarian. Every birthday growing up, she begged for a dog. Finally, when she was 14, her mom relented.
Today, Zarif is not only a vet, but one with a prestigious address. She works on the island of Nantucket, at the MSPCA/Angell Animal Medical Center in Nantucket.
“It doesn’t feel like a real job to me,” says Zarif. I like being able to help animals and help their people as well. I feel like animals give us so much that it’s nice to be able to give back to them, too.”
Along with two other veterinarians, Zarif provides all aspects of veterinary care. “We do a little of everything. We see emergencies, but we also do surgery, and preventative medicine,” she says. “I like the variety.”
Zarif currently shares her home with Rosie, a Chihuahua she acquired during her senior year at UMass Amherst. “She was a rescue. She had owners, but she had some broken bones in her face and was starving to death because she couldn’t eat. I convinced them to give her up to me.”
Getting the right care for Rosie was expensive, but Zarif was entering veterinary school at the time so she received some discounts, which helped offset the costs of repairing the dog’s face. Rosie was in her glory last Christmas when Zarif’s fiancé proposed to her with a ring he’d strung on the dog’s collar.
In a few years, Zarif thinks she’ll move to Cape Cod, and possibly start her own veterinary practice. “When I went to Tufts many students came from Ivy League schools,” remembers Zarif. “UMass Amherst prepared me just as well as anyone else, and I got a good foundation to meet my goals and do what I want to do with my life.”