Alumni Spotlight: Helena Digney
Helena Digney, from Willow’s Class of 2014, is currently attending Connecticut College in New London. She’s on track to become a veterinarian with an environmental science major. Helena said she’s interested in exploring the field of holistic medicine and its integration with conventional medicine. She’s also extremely passionate about animal rights and welfare, a passion that thrived at (and after) Willow.
“I think the best way to describe my passion for animal welfare is to start by saying I was inherently born into it,” Helena said. “My mom was already heavily involved in dog rescue before I was born. By the time I came along, there were already 10 dogs in the house, five of which were permanent members of the family. More were to come as I grew up, including a very special beagle named Millie who was part of a cruelty case. She was tiny, overbred, malnourished, and terrified of people. For some odd reason, we clicked. Maybe it was because we were both five, or maybe because I was still ‘little’ like her. Sadly, I lost her a year later, but that little soul taught me about compassion, and the real harsh realities of the world of animal abuse.”
“I think that was when I realized I wanted to make a difference somehow,” Helena reflected. “I decided I wanted to pursue a veterinarian career.”
At Willow, Helena brought her passion into school. “My 8th grade community project involved collecting dog and cat food for shelters,” she said. This early experience with making a tangible difference inspired her to continue to grow her advocacy and her impact in high school.
“In high school, I founded and ran an animal advocacy club, For the Love of Animals. In four years, we raised over $6,000 by running various fundraisers and put in over 20+ hours of volunteer work with rescue and animal sanctuaries,” Helena said.
“The best part is watching a whole community come together for their love of animals and their desire to help in some way,” Helena said of her volunteer and advocacy experience.