25th Anniversary Summer Bridge Program Alumni Spotlight: Veterinarian Mary Aboko-Cole recalls favorite program memories
As a 2003 Summer Bridge alum, Mary Aboko-Cole came to the Plains after graduating from Lee High School in Huntsville.
Reflecting on her experience in Summer Bridge, she found the relationships formed to be the most impactful aspect of the program.
“I don’t think I could have gotten to where I am now and have accomplished as much as I did without having already developed that foundation that Summer Bridge provided and getting support from fellow students, faculty and administrators,” said Aboko-Cole. “As a bonus, it made our freshman year more enjoyable because we all knew each other.”
One of Aboko-Cole’s favorite memories of Summer Bridge was speaking at the luncheon at the end of the program—with a notable guest in attendance.
“In 2003, Charles Barkley was the keynote speaker at the luncheon which was pretty cool!”
She recalled several Auburn faculty and staff who made a positive impact during her Summer Bridge experience and who continued to support her as an Auburn student and beyond.
“Overtoun Jenda always went the extra mile for the program and the students, and it was definitely apparent,” said Aboko-Cole. “Florence Holland kept us in line despite our shenanigans and has always been a great supporter since the beginning. I know that Dana Fields came after my Summer Bridge experience, but she really helped me a lot even after graduation. Even though I met Larry Wit during Camp War Eagle, he was essential throughout my undergrad process as well. All of them believed in my potential and gave me that extra push I needed to make it through.”
In 2007, Aboko-Cole graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology, and in 2011, she graduated from Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine.
For Aboko-Cole, Jonesboro, Georgia, is now home. As a veterinarian, affectionately known as “Dr. ABC”, she started a mobile practice for dogs and cats there called Southside Mobile Veterinary Services in 2019.
“I work out of my SUV and drive to patients’ homes for one-on-one pet care,” said Aboko-Cole. “My services range from general wellness and basic sick pet care and management to Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (acupuncture, herbal medications, food therapy, and Tui-na or medical massage).
I also do high-quality, high-volume spays and neuters (about 20-30 surgeries per day) once a week at a non-profit called Jazzy Paw Inc.”
“I enjoy the challenge of interpreting what animals are trying to communicate or how they are feeling, conveying that to my clients, and then coming together to decide the best course of action for them and their pets.”
Over the years, Aboko-Cole has enjoyed remaining in touch with the Summer Bridge Program through magazine and email communications she receives from COSAM and the Auburn Alumni Association. She also enjoys connecting with current Auburn students or faculty when she travels to special events on campus or at local alumni association events.
COSAM will host events throughout the 2022-23 academic year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Summer Bridge. Additionally, there is an initiative to raise $1 million dollars. These funds will be used by the COSAM Office of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity to support initiatives such as creating an endowed professorship, providing study abroad opportunities, and expanding scholarship availability for deserving students. To learn more about the celebration and to donate, please visit the 25th Anniversary website.