At an early age, Donna McWilliams knew she wanted to be a veterinarian. From the time she was in grade school, she was bringing home snakes and all sorts of animals. As an elementary student in Texas, she was paid to maintain a salt lick and water trough for a small herd of cattle. Her parents observed her natural interest in animals and were supportive. Her father was in the Navy, and she moved from Northern Virginia to Charlottesville to San Antonio as a young child.
“I realized that I love interacting with people and working on problems that are cross-cutting between humans and animals,” McCrickard said. “Thinking about the movement of disease within a population rather than an individual animal really spoke to me, and I felt that I could make a much greater impact focusing on public health.”
From veteran to veterinarian, alumnus Herb Yee (DVM ’10) follows his passion
A Los Angeles native with a decorated military career, Herb Yee’s entrance into veterinary school was not the traditional path most students take to become a veterinarian.
Carmen Ledesma-Feliciano (DVM '12) returns to alma mater for virology meeting
Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Ledesma-Feliciano began her undergraduate career at the University of Puerto Rico before transferring to the University of Maryland at College Park, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in pre-professional animal sciences in 2006. After graduating, Ledesma-Feliciano worked with research animal care company Priority One Services at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland before applying to the veterinary college.
Alumni Society president Lisa Carter (DVM '87) is committed to service
Lisa Glasscock Carter graduated with her doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 1987 with the fourth graduating class from the veterinary college, quickly becoming an integral member of the Virginia veterinary community. Throughout her career, she has served as president of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA), the Virginia Delegate to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and received the Virginia Distinguished Veterinarian of the Year Award in 2008.
“Becoming the Beach Boys” author Jim Murphy hails from the Class of 1997
At age 36, looking for a career change, Jim Murphy decided to apply to veterinary school. He had “always admired the profession of veterinary medicine as providing a unique opportunity to combine science, medicine, and communication/people skills to help people protect and preserve the bond they share with their companion animals,” but had spent most of his career working in Washington, D.C. at the Postal Service Headquarters as a writer, congressional liaison, ceremony coordinator, and speechwriter.
Exercise physiologist Michael Davis (MS ’95) draws from experience with sled racing dogs
While studying ski asthma, an asthma-like disease common in elite winter athletes, as part of his Ph.D. research at Johns Hopkins University, Michael Davis approached the Iditarod head veterinarian for a possible collaboration opportunity. Davis hoped that the Iditarod, a 1,000-mile dog sled race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, would provide a unique opportunity to study this phenomenon in sled dogs.
Roanoke veterinarian Diane D’Orazio (DVM ’85) shares her passion for wildlife rescue with students
Since her graduation from the veterinary school with the Class of 1985, Diane D'Orazio's career has taken many paths. She's worked with dairy goats in Maryland, at an emergency veterinary clinic in Clearwater, and with Veterinarians to Cats, a Roanoke-based cat clinic run by D'Orazio's former classmate, Connie Canode. Throughout her career, however, she's always made time for volunteer wildlife rescue work.
Jessica Wootton, DVM ‘13
Although Jessica Wootton always hoped to be a veterinarian at some point in her career, she credits a less traditional route for helping her actually realize that goal.
Originally from Blackstone, Virginia, Wootton grew up working on a beef farm before attending Hollins University in Roanoke as an English and theatre major. After graduation, Wootton ended up working as a veterinary assistant at the NOVA Cat Clinic in Arlington and from there decided to attend the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine to get her doctor of veterinary medicine degree, first attending George Mason University to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology for her prerequisite courses.
Maryland veterinarian Dr. Chris Runde (DVM ’85) advances the profession through legislative efforts
Veterinary law and its application are now an important part of Runde’s professional life as president of the Maryland State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners and a board of directors member for the American Association of Veterinary State Boards.
Dr. Richard “Chip” Godine (DVM ’87) leads the way with veterinary laser therapy
Dr. Richard “Chip” Godine might not have become a leading proponent of laser therapy in veterinary medicine had he not injured his shoulder in 2007. When Godine went to his family doctor to treat the injury, his physician recommended laser light therapy to reduce pain and inflammation. Amazed at the treatment’s effectiveness, he went to an international laser therapy conference in Toronto to learn more about this emerging modality.
Dr. Jessica Landa (DVM ’10) brings hands-on horse healing to central Florida
Jessica Landa, DVM, ran her hands over a horse’s hip, trailing the anatomy carefully before inserting a thin needle. The horse didn’t flinch. She placed another. And another.
Acupuncture for horses.
Central Pennsylvania veterinarian Michaela Fry (DVM '08) is in high demand
When a farmer calls Michaela Fry, the situation at the farm is almost always a serious one.
It’s those calls in the middle of the night, when a farmer is struggling to get a breeched calf to emerge, that they call Fry, the “lady veterinarian,” who shows up on a regular basis for routine checks on those same animals.
Here, doc: Dr. Lisa Aumiller (DVM ’99) comes to pets’ pads
Lisa Aumiller has been a lover of animals since she was a child.
“I was always bringing things home in my pocket, and my dad would say, ‘No, you can’t have that one,’ ” she recalls with a smile. “I’ve always loved our fur babies.”
Veterinarian offers pet care and house calls at new Pennsylvania clinic
Dogs and cats are important members of many families, said veterinarian Dr. Robert Ratcliffe (DVM ’01), and his goal is to support his clients’ special relationship with their pets by offering compassionate and quality health care in his new clinic or by house calls.
Madison County’s newest large animal vet is no stranger to the area
While other little girls were focused on dolls and dresses, Amanda Weakley was focused on animals.
What was once a childhood interest is now a vocation as Dr. Weakley has recently joined Virginia Herd Health Management as a large animal veterinarian. Even before her fifth birthday, Weakley, who was born and raised on a farm in Brightwood, had decided she wanted to be a veterinarian.
National Cattlemen’s chief veterinarian hails from the college’s charter class
Dr. Kathy Simmons has worked in an animal hospital, on her family’s West Virginia farm, and on Capitol Hill. For the past two years, she has been a leading voice for animal care and health regulatory issues in her role as chief veterinarian for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).
Simmons is also a proud graduate of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine’s founding Class of 1984.
Dr. Krista Magnifico harnesses the power of social media
A merchant marine, a veterinarian, and now a social media pioneer, Dr. Krista Magnifico (DVM ’05) wears many hats.
Magnifico is the owner of Jarrettsville Veterinary Center, a large, busy small animal practice in Jarrettsville, Maryland, about 30 miles north of Baltimore. Three years ago, she launched Pawbly, a free social network for people who are passionate about pets so they could get answers to pet-related questions and connect with local and national animal health experts.
North Carolina canine officers have alumna to thank for bulletproof vests
When Dr. Karla Frazier (DVM ’94) saw the news reports about Gorky, a K-9 officer who lost his life in the line of duty, she knew that she had to help.
Back in January, German shepherd Gorky joined Davie County sheriff’s deputies in serving an arrest warrant to a man who first tried to get away and then took hostages. The situation escalated and both Gorky and his handler, Deputy Chris Fleming, were shot. Fleming recovered, but 5-year-old Gorky died from his injuries the next morning.
Outside the box: Dr. John Herrity has success with innovative treatments at Northern Virginia practice
Dr. John Herrity (DVM '86) never considered his graduation from VA-MD Vet Med to be the end of his education. Herrity, a practice owner at Burke Animal Clinic located 20 miles south of Washington, D.C., has been taking care of pets in Northern Virginia for more than 25 years. In recent years, he has introduced alternative and holistic therapies into his practice so that his patients have access to the latest advances in veterinary medicine.
Infectious disease and romance: Unlikely duo works for Dr. Jennifer McQuiston
Raised in a family of educators, Dr. Jennifer McQuiston (DVM ’97, MS ’98) appreciated both English and science in high school but decided to focus on the latter in college. Today, McQuiston works as an epidemiologist for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). She is also a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of two romance novels — with a third set for publication next year.
Dr. Lauren Howard — Every Day at Work is a Real “Zoo”
Even when she was a veterinary student, Dr. Lauren Howard knew that she wanted to provide care for animals both big and small after graduation. Today, the Class of 2000 graduate from VA-MD Vet Med does just that as an associate veterinarian at the Houston Zoo. Howard treats a range of species, from an endangered toad population in the greater Houston area to the zoo's Asian elephants.
Dual passions: Dr. Joshua Lachowicz combines music, veterinary medicine
While it’s commonly accepted that you should focus your talents and interests on one specific career path, who says you can’t choose two? Born and raised in Roanoke, Va., Dr. Joshua Louis Lachowicz (DVM '02) grew up in the country, where his love for animals and a desire to care for them began at a young age. Around the same time, he learned to play the piano and started singing and writing his own songs.