Alumni Awards

To recognize outstanding alumni accomplishments, we present two annual awards.

If you know of a VA-MD Vet Med graduate who deserves recognition, but is not eligible for one of these awards, please email Cassie Wagner at These alumni may be recognized in a press release, in a "A Closer Look" feature, in the college's monthly e-newsletter, or on the college's social media feeds.

2019 Alumni Award Winners

Though nearly two decades separate their graduations from the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, doctor of veterinary medicine alumni William "Bill" Tyrrell and Claire Simeone, recipients of the college's Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award and Outstanding Recent Alumni Award, respectively, have more in common than animal care.

In their careers, each has nurtured a deep commitment to service, working locally, nationally, and globally to enhance the well-being of humans, animals, and the environment. Both Tyrrell and Simeone will return to Blacksburg as alumni speakers at the veterinary college's continuing education conference and reunion weekend in August 2019.

Bill Tyrrell (DVM '92) 2019 Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award

Bill Tyrrell

As the recipient of the college's Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award, veterinary cardiologist Bill Tyrrell is recognized for his sustained contributions to veterinary medicine and record of service to his profession, his alma mater, his clients, and his patients.

Co-owner of CVCA: Cardiac Care for Pets (formerly Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates) and a diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine since 1999, Tyrrell first became interested in cardiology and echocardiography while in small animal practice after graduation. Over the years, his commitment to client education during pets' examination and treatment has become a hallmark of his cardiology practice.

Recognized in 2003 with the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, Tyrrell has been active in the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association's mentor workshop since its inception nearly 20 years ago. The association's president in 2010, he also has served on its board of directors for more than a decade.

In other leadership roles, Tyrrell is a past president of the Northern Virginia Veterinary Medical Association and the VMCVM Alumni Society; the chair of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine's National Marketing and Communications Committee and a member of its Board of Regents; chairperson for the inaugural Potomac Regional Veterinary Conference and a member of its planning committee in subsequent years; and VMCVM's first representative to sit on the Virginia Tech Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Alongside his cardiology practice and research, more recently examining giant breed cardiomyopathy and its detection in the Irish Wolfhound and the Great Dane, Tyrrell has lectured across the country. He was selected to be Virginia's alternate delegate to the American Veterinary Medical Association's House of Delegates and has long been a committee member of the Veterinary Memorial Fund, which both supports owners grieving the loss of their pets and funds scientific investigations aimed at improving health care for future generations.

To acknowledge his role in bringing recognition to veterinary medicine in Virginia, Tyrrell was awarded the Distinguished Veterinarian of the Year Award by the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association in 2015.

» Learn more about Tyrrell: "Making service his business"

Claire Simeone (DVM '11) 2019 Outstanding Recent Alumni Award

Claire Simeone

Claire Simeone, recipient of the college's Outstanding Recent Alumni Award, has nurtured a deep commitment to service, working locally, nationally, and globally to enhance the well-being of humans, animals, and the environment.

Long an advocate for conservation and wildlife health, the Maryland native studied in the college's public and corporate veterinary medicine track, which prepares graduates for careers outside private clinical practice. She secured a joint internship between SeaWorld San Diego and San Diego's National Marine Mammal Foundation, as well as work for the U.S. Navy Marine Program and the California Condor Recovery Program.

In 2013, Simeone joined the Marine Mammal Center, the world's largest nonprofit veterinary research hospital and educational center dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of ill and injured marine mammals. As a conservation medicine veterinarian, she worked jointly with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service, as well as founded the center's International Veterinary In-Residence Program, which brings mammal veterinarians worldwide to the center for training in marine mammal rehabilitation, medicine, and science.

Named director of the Marine Mammal Center's Kei Kai Ola Hawaiian Monk Seal Hospital in 2018, Simeone leads endangered-species conservation programs, training, and community engagement programs at the center — and continues to hit milestones.

The first veterinarian selected as a TED Fellow, Simeone has served as a lead advisor for SR3, the Sealife Response, Rehab and Research collective, and she helped develop the Marine Mammal Health M.A.P., a national marine mammal health data repository and visualization tool.

Focusing on the connections among humans, animals, and the ocean, Simeone's work is necessarily expansive. She coined the term “zoognosis” to define the transfer of knowledge between humans and animals, highlighting that understanding human-animal connections can advance health.

On the heels of her service and accomplishments, Simeone has also been named this year's recipient of the Outstanding Recent Alumni Award from the Virginia Tech Alumni Association.

» Learn more about Simeone in Virginia Tech Magazine's 2018 story.

» Watch Simeone's TED2018 Fellow talk: "How shared knowledge can benefit humans and animals"