Friends and family from all over the world were able to attend this year’s virtual White Coat Ceremony to welcome the Class of 2024 into the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. More than 600 tuned into YouTube to watch 150 incoming DVM students introduce themselves, pull on their white coats and enter their dream profession.
Dean Michael Lairmore offered opening remarks that touched on the challenges of the current pandemic, and the school’s ongoing commitment to educating the next generation of veterinarians and scientists.
“Even though you are launching in a remarkable moment of social distancing, you will be learning together and depending on each other from day one,” Lairmore said. “Since the class proceeds through the same intensive coursework, it’s possible that you will get to know each other more than you have ever known classmates.”
Lairmore then gave the audience sneak peeks at some of the more unusual traits of the new members of the veterinary medicine community. One of his favorite stories from this incoming class included Emily Lunt, who just nine days after discovering she was admitted into veterinary school, donated 59% of her liver to her mother (also a UC Davis Veterinary School alumna, class of 1988!) at UCSF. Over the course of several months, both her liver and her mother's new liver have regenerated to full size and are functioning at full capacity. They are both looking forward to her veterinary school journey.
A number of students have traveled internationally or have ties in other countries or locations such as France, Switzerland, Iran, Thailand, Japan, New Zealand, Ukraine, Costa Rica, Peru, South Africa, Ecuador, Poland, Turkey, Germany, China, Galapagos Islands, and Marshall Islands.
“These experiences will align with our goal to serve society across the world,” Lairmore said.
Many of the new students have extensive experience working with a variety of animals, including, of course, domestic species such as dogs, cats, horses, cows, chickens, etc., but also raccoons, invertebrates, insects, bees, dolphins, penguins, guinea pigs, rats, hamsters, sable bucks and many others.
A few fun facts this incoming class shared about themselves:
- I was trapped as a child in a mudslide in the Swiss mountains.
- I filled out this (fun fact) form while stand-up paddle boarding in North Lake Tahoe!
- I got to participate on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic while working as an EMT in San Diego.
- I have an identical twin brother, who is pursuing human medicine.
- I served five years as an infantryman in the US Army.
- When I was really young, I would save up money to buy tubs of live bait worms at Walmart to release them because I felt so bad for the little guys.
“Our School’s vision is to lead veterinary medicine and address societal needs,” Lairmore said. “You are now part of that vision and you are a part of our collective future. The roles of veterinarians in our society are expanding into areas, based not on the letters behind your name, but the talent you bring to address a problem we all face in our interconnected world.”
Dr. Gina Davis, alumna from 1997, addressed the new class and shared her career trajectory. In recent years, after experiencing a high degree of stress and struggling to find joy in her calling again, Davis began studying behavioral medicine. She enters a residency at UC Davis this year to broaden her skills and forge a new path.
“I don’t know what type of job I will ultimately do as a Behavior Specialist, but that’s the beautiful thing about veterinary medicine,” Davis said. “The sky is the limit! So, enjoy every minute of this glorious but sometimes bumpy ride. Get messy, make mistakes but also make lasting friends.”
Melissa Rubinow, SAVMA president from the Class of 2022, shared some of her thoughts with the incoming class.
“I remember two years ago at my white coat ceremony, how foreign it felt,” she said. “I remember putting on the white coat, stethoscope around my neck (which I had no idea how to use- don’t worry, they will teach you that here) and feeling like a kid playing dress-up on Halloween. I promise, just like a child growing into shoes that are too big, you will grow into this white coat with time. Every time you do a client simulation lab, forcing you to take on the role of veterinarian, it will feel a little less weird. Until eventually, you are in your fourth year, the year of clinical rotations, wearing your white coat like a second skin every day, and not remembering what this foreign feeling was like at all.”
Following Rubinow’s remarks, Dr. Karl Jandrey read the names of each new student and for a brief moment, they each stood in the Zoom spotlight as they donned their white coats, sometimes assisted by a beaming parent or partner in the background. A few of them even used the moment to share their pets, including dogs, cats and even a snake.
After Rubinow led the new class in reciting the Veterinarian’s Oath, Dr. Dirk Yelinek, President of the California Veterinary Medical Association shared a few closing remarks.
“The next four years will be the longest and the shortest four years of your life,” he said. “Before you know it, you’ll have earned your DVM and be out in the world helping animals. Thomas Jefferson said 90 percent of success is persistence. I encourage you to maintain that persistence and apply it to the passion you have for this profession you chose, and you will succeed. Be persistent and resilient in all you do and do not forget to enjoy the never-ending journey of this great veterinary profession.”