College celebrates Class of 2017 commencement

The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine celebrated its 2017 commencement with ceremonies held on Thursday, May 11 and Friday, May 12.

On Thursday, May 11, the Graduate School awarded degrees to the college’s 35 Master of Public Health, seven Master of Science in Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences, and five Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences students in an afternoon commencement ceremony held in Cassell Coliseum. That evening, a reception was held for MPH graduates, families, and invited guests at the veterinary college.

The next morning, Virginia Tech recognized the college’s 118 new doctors of veterinary medicine (DVM) graduates in the university-wide commencement ceremony held in Lane Stadium. The college hosted its own DVM commencement later that day, held for the second year in a row in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre in the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech.

MPH graduates at commencement
MPH graduates gathered for a photo at the Virginia Tech Graduate School commencement ceremony. (Photo by Hannah Menefee)
DVM graduates in Lane Stadium
DVM graduates at the University Commencement Ceremony in Lane Stadium. (Photo by Logan Wallace)

Dean Cyril Clarke welcomed friends and family who traveled to Blacksburg for the event, and supported the graduates throughout the program, and congratulated the graduates on their success. He also emphasized the graduates’ unique set of qualifications as DVM recipients. “You have received comprehensive training across all major domestic species and scientific disciplines, so you are experts in comparative biology and medicine. Not only are you trained to diagnose and treat diseases in multiple animal species, but you are uniquely qualified to understand and address the risk of disease transmission between animals and humans, so you will serve as a critical public health resource in your communities.”

Kevin Pelzer delivers commencement keynote
Kevin Pelzer, professor of production management medicine/epidemiology delivered the commencement keynote. (Photo by Nikolai Kolupaev)

The Class of 2017 selected Kevin Pelzer, professor of production management medicine/epidemiology in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, as its commencement keynote speaker. He described how the graduates used engagement, reflection, and empathy to develop their class story. In speaking about engagement, Pelzer said “…in engaging with your classmates, you found understanding, encouragement, and compassion which has allowed you to succeed as a class… And by engaging each other, your greatest accomplishment has been your ability as individuals to come together to become a family.”

[Left] Mary Weatherman of Roanoke, Virginia graduated with top honors as the Class of 2017 valedictorian and Richard. B. Talbot Award recipient. [Right] Tyler McGill, Class of 2017 president, presented the class gift, the establishment of the Class of 2017 Dr. Subbiah Scholarship Award. (Photos by Nikolai Kolupaev)

Mary Weatherman of Roanoke, Virginia was the 2017 Richard B. Talbot Memorial Award recipient and college valedictorian. Weatherman, who will work as a mixed animal associate veterinarian in Waterford, Pennsylvania outside of Erie after graduation, described being a veterinarian as “pretty much the only job I wanted to have.”

After the hooding ceremony, David Hodgson, head of the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences and Gregory Daniel, head of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, presented a recognition of resident certificate to Noelle Muro of East Haven, Connecticut, who also received the college’s 2017 Outstanding Master’s Degree Student Award.  

Melinda McCall, president of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, then led the graduates in a recitation of the Veterinarian’s Oath before Rich Streett, president of the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, extended a warm welcome to the profession to the graduates.

Marion Ehrich and Thomas Cecere provide musical accompaniment during the ceremony
Marion Ehrich and Thomas Cecere provided musical accompaniment during the ceremony. (Photo by Nikolai Kolupaev)

Class of 2017 president Tyler McGill presented the class gift: the establishment of the Class of 2017 Dr. Subbiah Scholarship Award, to be given to a deserving student with interests in international veterinary medicine. The award honors Elankumaran Subbiah, former associate professor of virology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, who passed away unexpectedly in the fall of 2015. “In this way, the special connection that the Class of 2017 shared with Dr. Subbiah will be memorialized and will directly benefit students who embody the values and interests of Dr. Subbiah,” explained McGill in his commencement address.

Marion Ehrich, professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, and Thomas Cecere, assistant professor of anatomic pathology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, provided musical accompaniment during the ceremony. Ehrich has played piano at the college's commencement ceremonies for 32 years.

Prior to the commencement ceremony, a reception was held for graduating DVM students, families, and invited guests in the Commons at the veterinary college.

Watch a video of the full DVM Commencement Ceremony and view photos from this year’s commencement ceremonies.

DVM Class of 2017 graduates honored and celebrated faculty after the ceremony.