- About Alina Ermilio
Alina Ermilio (Class of 2020) is a recipient of the Saul T. Wilson Jr. USDA- APHIS Veterinary Services Scholarship. Every year, the Saul T. Wilson Scholarship program receives 300 applications and accepts less than 30 students nationwide. Accepted students receive a $15,000 scholarship per year that they are enrolled in the program and must complete 640 hours of work during school breaks. Saul T. Wilson Jr. Scholars are guaranteed a full-time job with USDA-Veterinary Services upon graduation.
Alina is currently employed by the Massachusetts USDA-APHIS Veterinary Services during her school breaks. She has been immersed in fieldwork with current Veterinary Medical Officers for farm calls and facility inspections.
Alina says this about her employment with USDA-APHIS VS, “I am out in the field three days per week and in the office 2 days. When I am in the office, I have a few projects I am doing data entry and working on for the National Veterinary Stockpile. When I am out in the field, I am riding along with a Veterinary Medical Officer. Field work includes CCT on cattle, collecting obex samples for the scrapie program, live cover of quarantined horses for CEM, avian influenza swabbing at commercial poultry markets, zoo/wildlife facility inspections for animal welfare, bleeding pigs... and lots more. USDA-Veterinary Services is also responsible for responding to disease outbreaks domestically. I just received medical clearance to respond to the Virulent Newcastle disease outbreak in San Bernardino, California! I am hoping I get a chance to get out there during my clinical vacation block.”
In June of 2017, Alina traveled to Northern California for 9 weeks to work for USDA-FSIS through the Veterinary Student Summer Intern Program. Alina was engaged in an educational training and work program under the supervision of FSIS Public Health Veterinarians. The experience enhanced her appreciation for the enormous role that FSIS veterinarians have in controlling illness and disease in both animals and people.
“Working with FSIS exposed me to a variety of Public Health Veterinarian functions and responsibilities within the agency, and I gained a greater understanding of USDA policies, regulations, and procedures as a whole. The internship with FSIS strengthened my [Saul Wilson] application and ultimately made me a stronger and more adept APHIS employee. I appreciate the "big picture" concept that a Public Health path provides, and am more appreciative of the preventative role that the FSIS plays in controlling illness and disease. Beginning with the health of food animals, I had the opportunity to positively impact an enormous scale of people.”
For future applicants, Alina recommends this about the program:
“I highly recommend exploring careers in the federal government. Opportunities within the USDA, as well as jobs in other agencies in the governmental sector are abound. If you are not sure what path you want to take, and want to explore veterinary careers outside of traditional clinical practice, federal government work is an excellent choice. The USDA doesn’t announce its vacancies, so checking back frequently on USAjobs.gov is essential. You can search jobs using keywords (“student”, “intern”, “veterinary”) and it will filter opportunities for you. The application processes vary based on the type of internship. One word of advice would be to apply quickly before the application window closes, and don’t be afraid to brag! Take your time on your essay and have some faculty read it over and give you advice. Obtain your recommendation letters from DVM’s who know you, will positively advocate for you, and will write a personalized recommendation letter. Sell yourself and let them know why you make a wonderful representative for the USA! I am happy to walk through the application process and offer advice to anyone applying through USAjobs.Gov”