By Katie Hanson ’25
Natalie Katz ’16 always knew she had a strong interest in research and medicine, but by her junior year at Scripps, she was still unsure how to direct those interests after graduation. But what started as an ordinary day while studying abroad in Israel turned into a career-determining moment: On a walk with her then-boyfriend, Katz pointed out a dog and her boyfriend remarked that she should become a veterinarian. That’s when everything clicked.
“For the first time, I could picture myself clearly in the future,” Katz says. “I realized, ‘That is 100 percent what I should do.’ I went back to Scripps senior year deciding that I was going to apply to veterinary school in the future, and now I’m here.”
Seven years later, Katz is in her fourth year at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, a path that started with her classes and experiences at Scripps. Katz was a molecular biology major who leaned into the resources and opportunities at the W.M. Keck Science Department. There, she took the majority of her classes, served as a teacher’s assistant and tutor for introductory biology courses, and worked as an animal caretaker. Katz says her classes at Keck shaped her perspective on science.
“The professors are there because they really care about our education. The learning environment really focuses on understanding rather than memorizing,” Katz says. “We were tested on our ability to be mature scientists who think things through and are able to solve problems. It gives you a good foundation for understanding scientific topics later in your career.”
After graduating, Katz focused on animal care to fulfill the hundreds of hours of animal experience required for veterinary school. She volunteered at a wildlife hospital in Israel before moving to a small animal clinic while simultaneously pursuing a master’s degree in genetics from Tel Aviv University. She says going to graduate school in another country was a major transition.
“The education system in other countries is very different,” Katz says. “Everything is way more memorization-based, but I’m glad I did it. Looking back, I gained a lot of research and general life experience.”
While Katz applied to several veterinary schools internationally, she chose Cornell for the opportunity to join the Health Professions Scholarship Program, through which medical, dental, and veterinary students have their education sponsored by the United States military in exchange for future service. Thus far, Katz has completed two training sessions as part of the program: a direct commissioning course in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and a basic officers leadership course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. After graduation, she will hold a one-year internship at a US veterinary hospital, followed by three years of service with the military.
Along with the training, Katz enjoys taking classes and getting involved in Cornell student organizations. She’s a member of the Veterinary Business Management Association, the Student American Veterinary Medical Association, and Veterinarians Eating Tasty Snacks (VETS).
While she’s unsure exactly what the future holds, Katz has kept in touch with the Scripps community throughout her international career journey. This past summer, she went on a vacation to Greece with her former roommates, and in a few months she’ll attend the wedding of another friend from Scripps.
“One of my favorite things about Scripps is the community,” Katz says. “I met some very good people who will definitely be lifelong friends.”