Jaclyn Buseck '12 is researching the effects of the human-animal bond.
Buseck is a member of the Pre-health Society and a Presidential Scholar.
Jaclyn Buseck ’12 is an animal lover whose dog is playing an important role in her
capstone project. Buseck is researching the effects of the human-animal bond through
animal-assisted therapy (AAT).
“My grandmother read an article about therapy dogs and I came up with the idea of
training my dog, Cinder, to be a therapy dog,” explains Buseck, a
biology major. Therapy dogs visit libraries, nursing and rehab facilities,
and hospitals. The Goochland, Virginia native spent weeks training the 7-year-old
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Cinder took an obedience class aimed at getting dogs certified as therapy dogs,
also known as Canine Good Citizens. The test for a therapy dog focuses on two areas:
skills and aptitude. “Dogs need to know basic commands such as sit, down, stay,
come, and leave it,” explains Buseck. “They need to be able to walk on a loose leash
and be comfortable with loud noises, strange objects such as wheelchairs and crutches,
having their tails pulled, being squeezed, etc. Basically they need to be able to
handle any situation they might encounter on a visit.”
Cinder’s favorite activity is called Read to Rover. She visits local libraries and
helps children, ages 2-12, who are struggling with their reading skills. “The kids
read to Cinder and gain confidence in their reading ability,” says Buseck, who observes
and takes notes. Her research will continue throughout the fall and winter. Her
post-R-MC plans include veterinary school.
Buseck, who received a Watts
Scholarship for Biology, is a member of the Pre-health Society (part of
the Pre-med program) and a Presidential Scholar.
She says that, although all of her professors are helpful, “Professor Lim-Fong (biology)
has been incredible. I've taken a lot of her classes and she sincerely wants her
students to do well. You can tell that she loves what she does and is passionate
about it. When I did a semester of research with her to improve my vet school applications,
she made it fun!”
In January 2010, Buseck traveled to the Galápagos Islands in connection with Biology
Professor Sarah Huber’s Evolution and Conservation in the Galápagos Islands course.
The J-term course used the Islands as a case study for studying evolution and conservation.
Buseck found the experience exhilarating.
“We lived on a boat for 10 days, and every day we explored a different island,”
she says. “We saw so many different animals; sea lions were everywhere, but we never
got tired of seeing them. We went snorkeling most days and one day we played with
the sea lions in the water. Another day we got to ‘swim’ with sharks. We were about
15 feet away from them. It was scary—and amazing.”
Buseck is passionate about Relay for Life, an annual fundraiser that benefits the
American Cancer Society. Relay for Life, which began in the 1980s, is an overnight
relay-style event. Teams of volunteers camp out and members of each team take turns
walking for 24 hours. Randolph-Macon sponsors a Relay for Life event each year,
and in spring 2011 Buseck’s reason for participating was especially poignant.
“A friend told me about Relay for Life and suggested I go,” she says. “I decided
to put a team together in honor of my dad, who was battling cancer at the time.
We called our group Team Mickers because Mickers was my dad’s nickname.”
Team Mickers received what Buseck calls “incredible support” and ended up being
the team that raised the most money. Sadly, Buseck’s father passed away about a
week after the relay. “Now I am more determined than ever to make next year’s relay,
which takes place on April 28, 2012, even better,” says Buseck.