Meet the students serving at Westminster
For the second year in a row, the veterinarians, students and staff of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and Cornell University Veterinary Specialists are serving as the official veterinary care providers for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
Meet this year’s students, who will continue their training to become experts in the field under the clinicians providing high-quality veterinary care to the canine competitors.
Michael Astor, Class of 2022
- Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry
- Founded a student club raising service animals
- Has a dog named Porter
Michael Astor earned his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Lafayette College. During his time at Lafayette, he grew passionate about training animals, and founded a student club raising service animals for the organization Canine Partners for Life.
Astor is employed by the behavioral services at Cornell University Hospital for Animals, expanding his experience in animal behavior and training. He is currently undecided about his exact career path, but is interested in pursuing a career as a veterinarian for service animals. Outside of school, Astor enjoys many outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling, going to the gym and spending time with his dog Porter.
Jessie Bachmann, Class of 2022
- Bachelor’s in animal and veterinary sciences
- Has a cat named Ava
- Passionate about small animal medicine
Jessie Bachmann earned her bachelor’s in animal and veterinary sciences from the University of Vermont. Her family has many animals at their home in Vermont, including three dogs, two cats, four horses and a pony. She has had a variety of experiences in veterinary medicine, including dairy, equine and her true passion: small animal medicine.
Bachmann is excited to return to Vermont after graduation to work as a veterinarian at a small animal practice where she was a technician for several years. Outside of school, Bachmann enjoys horseback riding, hiking, kayaking and spending time with her family, pets and friends. Her cat is named Ava.
Kristen Esannason, Class of 2022
- Bachelor’s degree in anthropology
- Worked as a research assistant in cognitive neuroscience and animal behavior
- Enjoys dance
Kristen Esannason grew up just northwest of New York City. She ventured to the Midwest to attend Washington University in St. Louis, where she earned a degree in anthropology. After graduation, she worked at an animal hospital before pursuing her interest in cognitive neuroscience and animal behavior at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai as a research assistant.
Esannason saw the opportunities that a career in veterinary medicine could provide, and its ability to help animals, humans and the environment, and she decided this was the best career path for her. In addition to medicine, she enjoys travel, dance, and spending quality time with friends and family.
Mary Beth Hannon, Class of 2021
- Bachelor’s in animal science and international development from Cornell
- Undergraduate varsity equestrian team
- Competes in triathlons
Mary Beth Hannon grew up in Danville, Pennsylvania, on a small hobby farm that included horses, pigs, goats, cats and dogs. Hannon is currently employed in the Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Service in the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, and enjoys working as a student technician when she’s not in class.
In addition to veterinary school, Hannon is currently earning her small animal acupuncture certification from the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine in Reddick, Florida. Outside of school, she loves spending time with her dog Chance, running, competing in triathlons and exploring the Finger Lakes.
Leah Ramsaran, Class of 2023
- Bachelor’s in evolutionary anthropology
- Studied the effects of play on dog training success
- Has a Rhodesian ridgeback puppy
Leah Ramsaran earned her bachelor’s in evolutionary anthropology from Duke University. While at Duke, Ramsaran worked as a technician assistant at the Duke Lemur Center, as a laboratory assistant at Duke Laboratory Animal Resources and completed her senior thesis at the Duke Canine Cognition Center, where she studied the effects of play on dog training success.
Outside of class, Ramsaran enjoys spending time with family and friends, sculpting, going to the beach in her hometown of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and relaxing with her Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, Aang. She is excited to learn more about the animals she has always loved.
Kira Wong, Class of 2023
- Bachelor’s in biology
- Has two mixed-breed dogs
- Student technician at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals
Kira Wong earned her bachelor’s in biology at Swarthmore College, and worked as a veterinary assistant full time for three years before deciding to pursue a D.V.M. She has two mixed breed dogs, and recently started competing in the American Kennel Club’s agility competition with her younger dog, Juniper. Wong is currently employed as a student technician in the emergency service at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals.
Her veterinary interests include animal behavior and sport medicine, exotic pets and small animal primary care. Outside of veterinary medicine, she enjoys good food, hiking and relaxing with her boyfriend and animals.
Alyssa Zarnoch, Class of 2022
- Bachelor’s in biology from Boston College
- Has two Australian shepherds
- Student representative for Hill’s Pet Nutrition
Alyssa Zarnoch earned her bachelor’s in biology from Boston College, where she also studied philosophy and theology. After graduating, she worked full time as a veterinary assistant in a small animal hospital in Boston, developing her clinical skills with the help of technician mentors. In addition to veterinary school, she works as a student nursing care assistant in the intensive care unit at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals.
Most recently, Zarnoch completed an externship at a small animal general practice, where she was introduced to surgery and practiced her diagnostic skills. Outside of school, she enjoys cooking, reading and exploring Ithaca’s state parks with her two Australian shepherds.
Nicole Zitzmann, Class of 2022
- Bachelor’s in animal science from Cornell
- Undergraduate varsity equestrian team
- Equine sports medicine focus
Nicole Zitzmann grew up on Long Island, where she spent a lot of her time running track, shadowing veterinarians, riding horses and acting as a horse show groom. In addition to volunteering at an equine referral hospital on Long Island during her year off between undergraduate and veterinary school, Zitzmann worked at a small animal general practice, where she solidified a lot of her small animal veterinary skills.
She is currently a large animal surgery technician at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals and is looking forward to receiving her equine acupuncture certification this summer from the Chi Institute in Reddick, Florida.