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Josie Lee Wolan serving as student marshal for fall 2023 commencement

By November 30, 2023December 6th, 2023No Comments

Josephine Lee Wolan, a graduating senior in wildlife science, pre-veterinary medicine from Hoffman Estates, Illinois, has been chosen to lead the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment’s class of 2023 at Auburn University’s fall commencement ceremony on Dec. 9. 

Inspired by an early experience with sea turtle conservation efforts in Costa Rica, Wolan chose her degree field in the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment (CFWE) to pursue her goal of one day providing medical care to animals in sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers. 

“I decided on this degree because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. I aspire to make a lasting impact on the lives of endangered species and the conservation movement,” said Wolan. “Pursuing a degree in wildlife sciences provided me with a starting scientific background and an incredible understanding of wildlife ecology and management that will aid me in future decision-making.” 

Throughout her academic journey at Auburn University, Wolan has demonstrated dedication to wildlife conservation and environmental studies. As part of the Forest, Environment and Wildlife Leadership (FEWL) Academy, she traveled to Washington D.C. to engage with natural resource policy leaders. Wishing to build upon her earlier field experience in Costa Rica, Wolan returned to Costa Rica to participate in several wildlife conservation studies under the advisement of CFWE faculty, including research on the diversity of native bats. 

During her academic career at Auburn, Wolan has played a crucial role as a student ambassador for the CFWE, serving as secretary her junior year. She also participated in the Plant-Based Plainsman and was a member of the sorority, Delta Zeta. While on class breaks, Wolan leveraged these opportunities to gain valuable hands-on experience as an assistant veterinary technician at Hoffman Estates Animal Hospital and served as a volunteer at the Auburn Raptor Center. 

“In addition to the experiential learning Josie has gained in her field, she has taken great initiative to build her professional skills through participation as a student ambassador and member of the FEWL Academy,” stated Janaki Alavalapati, the Emmett F. Thompson Dean of the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment. “These experiences have provided excellent opportunities to enhance her leadership capabilities, and I have no doubt she will make a great impact within the field of wildlife conservation.” 

Reflecting on her time in the CFWE, Wolan is grateful for the learning opportunities the college provided. She thoroughly enjoyed the smaller class sizes, the relational aspect of her professors and the real-world experience gained through her outdoor labs.  

“There’s something so special about the people and this place that makes it hard to leave, but that’s the beauty of Auburn,” said Wolan. “If I had the chance, I wouldn’t change a single thing. I adored my time here; Auburn will always hold a special place in my heart.” 

The university will kick off its graduation weekend at Neville Arena at 8 a.m. CT on Saturday, December 9. Additional information, including updates regarding inclement weather, is available on the commencement website, and information will be posted on the Facebook and Instagram accounts. 

All ceremonies will be live-streamed, with recordings available on the commencement website following the weekend festivities, and graduates and their families are encouraged to check the website regularly for updated information. 

(Written by Mary Hillhouse) 

Learn more about CFWE's wildlife sciences pre-vet major.

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