College celebrates Class of 2018 commencement

The Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine celebrated its 2018 commencement with ceremonies held on Thursday, May 10 and Friday, May 11.

On Thursday, May 10, the Graduate School awarded degrees to the college’s Master of Public Health, Master of Science in Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences, and Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences students in an afternoon commencement ceremony held in Cassell Coliseum. Earlier in the day, a reception and ceremony were held for MPH graduates, families, and invited guests at the veterinary college.

The next morning, Virginia Tech recognized the college’s 122 new doctor 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 third year in a row in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre in the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech.

MPH graduates at commencement
Graduates gathered for a photo after the MPH commencement reception and ceremony.
DVM graduates at the Moss Arts Center
DVM graduates at the college commencement ceremony held in the Moss Arts Center.

Interim Dean Gregory Daniel 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 encouraged the graduates to find a healthy work/life balance. “As you follow your career path, please remember what motivated you to get you here in the first place. Care for yourself, your family and friends. Find the right balance between your work and your life. They are not the same. Be a person of integrity and consequence. I wish you success and good fortune on your journey.”

Thomas Cecere delivers commencement keynote
Thomas Cecere, assistant professor of anatomic pathology, delivered the commencement keynote.

The Class of 2018 selected Thomas Cecere, assistant professor of anatomic pathology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, as its commencement keynote speaker. He asked the graduates to reflect on one question: "what is your story?" In speaking about this simple question, Cecere said “Each of you has a story to tell and each of you has a story to write. As you go forth to change the world with your veterinary diploma in hand, each of you will have the opportunity to interact with people in your community in a positive way. It turns out that part of being a noble human being and a good veterinarian is learning to listen to others. And you will have the opportunity to share your story and to listen to the stories of others.” He closed his remarks with a serenade for the graduates – a fiddle tune titled "Ashokan Farewell," the theme song for The Civil War, a documentary miniseries produced by famed storyteller Ken Burns.

[Left] Aubrie Michelle Smith, of Stephens City, Virginia graduated with top honors as the Class of 2018 valedictorian and Richard. B. Talbot Award recipient. [Right] Andy Xin, Class of 2018 president, presented the class gift, the establishment of a comfortable outdoor study break area in the college grove.

Aubrie Michelle Smith, of Stephens City, Virginia was the 2018 Richard B. Talbot Memorial Award recipient and college valedictorian. Smith, who will work in emergency medicine in Northern Virginia after graduation, reflected on studying veterinary medicine in seven states and four countries during the program, “It's good to get a different perspective,” she said.

Sharon Deem (DVM '88), director for the Institute for Conservation Medicine at the Saint Louis Zoo, was honored as the recipient of the college’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award. Established in 2014, the award recognizes alumni for their exemplary and sustained achievements in veterinary medicine and their positive impact.

Rick Lewis, president of the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, then led the graduates in a recitation of the Veterinarian’s Oath before Jason Bollenbeck, president of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, extended a warm welcome to the profession to the graduates. Adam Henderson (DVM '11), president of the VMCVM Alumni Society, then welcomed graduates to the college's alumni society.

Marion Ehrich (left) and Thomas Cecere (right) provided musical accompaniment during the ceremony.

Class of 2018 president Andy Xin presented the class gift: the establishment of a comfortable outdoor area with swings and new picnic tables in the college grove that will encourage students to take a break from their studies. “We wanted to focus on delivering a sustained impact targeted primarily towards current and future veterinary students at our college,” explained Xin in his commencement address.

Marion Ehrich, professor emerita 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 the past 33 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.