College Graduates its 30th DVM Class

The DVM Class of 2013 became the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's 30th graduating class during commencement ceremonies held on Friday evening, May 17.

The proceedings included the traditional veterinarian's oath and hooding ceremony, which was held in the Commonwealth Ballroom of Squires Student Center. Earlier in the day, DVM students were recognized at Virginia Tech's noon commencement ceremony in Lane Stadium. During a Graduate School Commencement Ceremony in Cassell Coliseum, the college's master of public health, master of science, and doctoral students were recognized.

DVM Class of 2013 takes veterinarian's oath The DVM Class of 2013 took the Veterinarian's Oath during the commencement ceremonyheld on Friday, May 17, 2013. Watch the video.

In his last commencement ceremony before stepping down as dean, Dr. Gerhardt Schurig emphasized the significance of the graduates' place in history as members of the 30th class to graduate since the college's first commencement ceremony in 1984. He also commended the class for prevailing through rigorous training that made them "masters of the art and science of veterinary medicine."

Dr. Lauren Abell
Dr. Lauren Abell, Class of 2013 valedictorian, received the Richard B. Talbot Award for Academic Excellence. View more photos.

"Remember that whatever you do, wherever you go, you will be a person of consequence," Schurig told the graduates. "Matters of life and death will be in your hands. Matters of public health will be in your hands. Every day, you will make decisions that will change the lives of both people and animals."

Dr. John Clifford, chief veterinary officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was selected by the senior class as its keynote speaker. He congratulated students on their achievement, shared insights into his career path, and offered humorous words of wisdom from his years in private practice. "When I was sitting where you sit today, I could not have envisioned my career path," he said. "I couldn't wait to get into private practice and start treating animals. Federal service was not on my radar. Just know that you have so many directions you can go with your degree."

Special presentations were made to class valedictorian Lauren Abell of Pocomoke, Md., who received the Richard B. Talbot Award for Academic Excellence, and the University of Illinois' Dr. Jennifer Landolfi (DVM '03) who received the Outstanding Recent Alumna Award.

Virginia Tech's senior vice president and provost, Dr. Mark McNamee, offered special remarks to DVM graduate Derek O'Dell, a survivor of the April 16 tragedy. McNamee had developed a special bond with Derek's late father, Roger, after learning that he too was a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "I can still recall how proud he was when you were accepted into this veterinary college," he said.

Dr. Jennifer Landolfi, Outstanding Recent Alumna
Dr. Jennifer Landolfi (DVM '03) received the Outstanding Recent Alumna Award. View more photos.

McNamee also presented a special honor to Dean Schurig inducting him into the John N. Dalton Society, a group of individuals who have performed the most distinguished service to the college. Schurig, who has served as dean since 2004, was credited with spearheading transformations to the college, not only in research and curricular areas, but also in physical facilities. He was also cited as a leader among Virginia Tech deans and thanked for his exemplary service.

A second John Dalton Society induction was made to Donna S. Pitt who served the college as executive administrator and chief financial officer for 29 years. "She was in charge of the college's budget, financial operation, personnel, capital planning, and construction activities under three deans," noted Dr. Schurig. "Donna left an enduring footprint on the institution."

Then, Dr. Mark Finkler, president of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, administered the Veterinarian's Oath, which was recited by the new graduates. Dr. Kris Evans, president of the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, welcomed the group into the profession before Catherine "Cassie" Wedd, president of the Class of 2013, gave a humorous look back at the past four years and presented the class gift to Dean Schurig, a monetary donation for use towards upgrading one of the hospital examination rooms.

At a college reception held prior to the ceremony, the graduates mingled with family, faculty, staff and special guests in the Veterinary Medicine Instruction Addition.

View photos from the commencement reception and ceremony.