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Cheers to the Class of 2013!

June 17, 2013

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Executive Associate Dean John Pascoe awards Esther Zacowski with the School of Veterinary Medicine Medal.

The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine launched the careers of 134 new veterinarians last week during the 62nd year of commencement ceremonies. The school honored nine candidates for the Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine program, which pioneered the teaching and use of epidemiology to investigate and evaluate disease and production problems in animal populations and to design, evaluate and implement disease control or other veterinary services. The faculty also recognized 40 veterinarians who completed residencies at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, which runs what may be the world's largest program of training for veterinary specialists.

During the ceremonies held at the Robert & Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, Executive Associate Dean John Pascoe awarded DVM graduate Esther Zacowski with the School of Veterinary Medicine Medal for demonstrating the highest level of academic achievement and clinical performance throughout the four-year program. The medal is highly regarded by clinicians, faculty, residents and – equally important – by classmates.

Student speakers Gregory Bishop and Dana Shackelton shared fond memories with their classmates. Gregory talked about the need to overcome their fear of the number 13, a condition known as triskaidekaphobia (from Greek).  In fact they turned this fear into an alternate motto, “Triskaidekaphilia,” the love of the number 13!  

Dana recalled finally climbing a tree at the Center for Equine Health—but not without the pushing and pulling of a few friends to get her up in the tree, where they had to remain until the spooked horses calmed down. But the experience provided a lesson about relying on friends that carries through to life.

Munashe Chigerwe, assistant professor of livestock medicine and surgery, served as the faculty speaker selected by the students. In addition to song lyrics, Chigerwe offered his former students advice about finding a healthy life balance as they embark on their new careers and assured them how much he would miss them.

The school also acknowledged five Alumni Achievement Award recipients (See related story) and thanked retiring faculty members Bradd Barr, Stephen Barthold, V. Michael Lane, John Maas and Peter Woolcock (See related story) for their contributions to science and commitment to veterinary education.   

Among the honored guests were Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter, and Chris Cowing, DVM 1974, President of the California Veterinary Medical Association, who led the graduates as they took their veterinary oath for the first time. 

Some thoughts on commencement from Dean Lairmore:

Like those classes from our school since the first class in 1952, these new graduates had to overcome multiple challenges and created many memories over the past four years.  They endured a crippling economic recession, rising tuition and increased student debt, they suffered through “Mustachular Spectacular”, a fundraising event where most of the guys in the class grew a mustache for about 1 month and then thankfully shaved it off.  They sat through endless hours in lectures, countless laboratories, and eating plastic wrapped food at Scrubs in scrubs.  They made it through four years of Picnic Day and even won first place for their dinosaur float!  They laughed and cried together through good times and bad.  They created creepy YouTube video’s to preview their Smoker, which we hear was “awesome” with an underwater black light theme. 

The Class of 2013 demonstrated their compassion and helped the homeless with their animal care needs at the Mercer clinic, traveled the world to share what they had learned in veterinary school, and worked throughout California to gain practical experience in the art of veterinary medicine.  A few became parents during their training and juggled multiple priorities at home and at work.  Others found love during veterinary school and were married. They were champions in intramural soccer and heroes to their families. 

I applaud the Class of 2013.  They put their fears aside and demonstrated courage in the face of their challenges these past four years.  I congratulate each of our graduates for their achievements, hope they enjoyed their graduation and wish them the best as they enter the world.

Visit our Facebook page to view an album from the festivities.

 The Commencement video is available here.