With a family history of Bridgewater alumni dating back to his great-great-great grandparents, Joseph Wampler ’23 says he was essentially committed to attending BC since the age of 5.
Wampler, who grew up attending Homecoming games, began building connections early with Bridgewater College. As a high school student, he also played in the College’s pep band at Homecoming. While music was an important part of his life, Wampler knew his career goal was to pursue wildlife veterinary medicine. A biology major with a minor in music, he completed a semester at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), one of the world’s leaders in conservation research, during his junior year.
“That was a facility I had wanted to visit my entire life, so knowing that Bridgewater offered that just reinforced how much I wanted to come to Bridgewater,” says Wampler.
Since 2013, Bridgewater College has offered the Smithsonian-Mason Semester, run by the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and George Mason University, to juniors and seniors. Sixteen students to date have participated in the semester program in which they live on the SCBI campus in Front Royal, Va., and learn about the theory and application of conservation biology through hands-on experiences.
Wampler was involved in numerous activities and organizations at the College including the Flory Honors program, Alpha Chi national honor society, Beta Beta Beta (also known as TriBeta) national biology honor society, Philomathes Society, the Brethren Student Movement and numerous music ensembles including the Jazz Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Screamin’ Eagles Marching Band, Chorale, Concert Choir and the Brass Band. Wampler was also able to spend six months volunteering at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, a hospital for native wildlife in Waynesboro, Va., where he also worked one summer as a veterinary assistant.
“There was just such a wide variety of experiences that I was able to get at Bridgewater. Because of all those experiences, it really confirmed what I wanted to do with my life and connected with what my future goals were,” the Nokesville, Va., native says.
This fall, Wampler began his doctor of veterinary medicine program at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, N.Y., to study zoo and wildlife medicine. He says one of the reasons he chose Cornell was because of its helpful faculty, just like he experienced at Bridgewater.
“When I visited Cornell, the professors were very approachable if I had concerns, wanted to talk about my future goals or talk about getting involved in their research. That was very enticing because one of my favorite aspects of Bridgewater was how close I got to a lot of my professors,” Wampler says.
As he works toward obtaining his doctorate, Wampler hopes to draw on his Bridgewater experience, as well as keep music part of his life moving forward.
“One of the things about Bridgewater was the community feeling and learning how to work with other people, lean on other people and being comfortable asking questions of professors and students. I think that will be incredibly useful [in my time at Cornell],” Wampler says.
– Logan Bogert