Archived News

Commencement 2016

May 23, 2016

Dr. Jim Clark congratulates new DVM graduate Dr. Matthew Wooddall, who also served as the student speaker for commencement.

Dr. Jim Clark congratulates new DVM graduate Dr. Matthew Wooddall, who also served as the student speaker for commencement.

Congratulations to all of the new graduates of UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine! Among those receiving degrees at Saturday’s 65th Commencement Ceremony held at the Mondavi Center were 137 DVM students, 33 residents and six MPVM students.

In true Class of 2016 fashion, they lived up to their motto of "We’ll do it Live!" starting with a fine a cappella performance of The Star Spangled Banner by Catherine Barich, Leah Vuksich and Sarah Woods.

Acting Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ken Burtis provided the welcome. His wife is a graduate of the school and they’ve relied on the veterinary hospital to care for many dogs, cats and horses over the years. He urged graduates to practice CPR—compassion, pride and responsibility.

Dr. John Stuelpnagel, a veterinarian and chair of 10x Genomics, Inc. provided the commencement address, urging students to search out their passions, enjoy the path of discovery and embrace changes they find in themselves.

Due to a tie for the school medal, both Allison Gagnon and Maureen Griffin received the school’s highest honor for graduating students from Associate Dean Jan Ilkiw in recognition of their outstanding academic and clinical performance. Both will be interning in a small animal practice.

Dean Michael Lairmore highlighted a few stats from the class: 16 classmates got married (with others engaged), three had four babies (one set of twins), one had beaten cancer over the course of the past four years, three had helped create the new Knights Landing One Health Clinic and many had served in remote regions of the world.

"I’m proud to tell you, you’re graduating from the #1 school in the world—it’s a world of great promise and also great challenges," he said.

Faculty speaker Dr. Jim Clark echoed that sentiment in his address to the students that he greeted on their first day of school four years ago. He encouraged them to find happiness both inside and outside veterinary medicine; to be open to learning from colleagues and clients; and to be themselves, which doesn’t mean being perfect.

"You are more than just a doctor; you are a healer," Clark said to the graduates. "Listen with your head and your heart."

Matthew Wooddall represented the class as their student speaker, drawing laughs and tears. He overcame childhood cancer and a long road to get to veterinary school. In addressing the crowd, Wooddall said, "Your babies grew up to be doctors, which looking at the current political landscape is a lot better than growing up to run for President."

After the laughter died down, he noted that the graduating class included a three-time Olympian, many first-generation college grads and a mother of twins (who excelled academically). In searching commencement speeches, Wooddall realized that most of them ended with a challenge. And he began speaking about the high rate of suicide among veterinarians, recalling the death a couple of years ago of beloved behaviorist Sophia Yin.

"While we are no longer classmates, we will always be family," he said. "Reach out when you need someone—it’s on each of us to pay attention and to be there for someone if they reach out. As a family we owe it to each other. We lose no one to depression and suicide—not one. That is my challenge to all of you."