WESTFORD — It seemed like fate for Nicholas Giannino.
As a student at Parker Middle School in Chelmsford, just as he was preparing to choose what high school to attend, Nashoba Valley Technical High School was adding a Veterinary Assisting program to its technical curriculum.
“I grew up wanting to work with animals and be a veterinarian,” Nicholas said. “So I figured I might as well see what it was all about.”
Now a senior at Nashoba Tech, Nicholas is one of five students in the state to be selected for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Presidential Scholars program for Career and Technical Education.
Each year, five CTE students in the state are selected for the recognition. Each school can nominate one girl and one boy who demonstrate outstanding scholarship and excellence as a member of the school community, leadership, school and community involvement. The students may receive discretionary points for extraordinary achievement, heavy work load, family responsibilities or obstacles overcome.
Since his junior year, Nicholas, son of Andrew and Jennifer Giannino, has been interning at Bulger Animal Hospital in Lawrence. At Bulger, he helps out mainly in the emergency room and exotic-animals department, gaining critical hands-on experience that he hopes will help him pursue a career in veterinary medicine.
“I’ve been assessing critical patients and doing blood draws and IV catheters,” he said. “It’s mostly cats and dogs, but in the emergency room, we see guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, different reptiles and amphibians, a whole lot of animals.”
Nicholas was nominated for the Presidential Scholars program by Veterinary Assisting Instructor Tracey Warren, who wrote that from the time she started working at the school in 2017, when Nicholas was a freshman, “I realized he was a gifted and talented young man and quickly learned that he was extremely bright and demonstrated leadership qualities, even as a freshman.”
She continued: “He has always been focused on veterinary medicine and has taught me that there are students that do seek as much material and knowledge as possible. This inspired me to develop and utilize all resources available to keep Nick engaged, challenged and motivated to continue working on his goals of becoming a veterinarian.”
Nicholas spent a lot of his time as a junior working in Nashoba Tech’s on-site animal clinic, Angell at Nashoba, where Warren said other students looked up to him as a leader.
“I always knew that if Nick was in a room with animals, they would be well taken care of and he would keep everyone else on task when I had to step away,” Warren wrote.
“I’m a very confident person, and I often take the lead in situations,” Nicholas said. “I’m also open to new ideas and out-of-the-box thinking.”
In 2019, Nicholas was selected to participate in the Adventures in Veterinary Medicine summer program at Tufts University, and he has been a volunteer at the Lowell Humane Society since 2015. He has also obtained his Fear Free certification and CPR/First Aid animal certification, which are valuable to have in the field of animal science.
Warren said she recommended Nicholas to Bulger Animal Hospital. And even though Bulger has a policy that employees under 18 (he’ll turn 18 in May) cannot be paid, he accepted the internship in a heartbeat.
“I have heard from many veterinarians, including board-certified specialists, that Nick is amazing and they love having him there,” Warren wrote in her nomination. “The certified veterinary technicians and many support staff have also told me he is great to work with and catches on to everything very quickly.”
Nicholas said he’s honored to represent Nashoba Tech in the Presidential Scholars program. He’s in the process of applying to colleges, with Tufts and Cornell high on the list.
“Both are great schools for animal science with amazing research opportunities, job opportunities and internship opportunities,” he said.