Congratulations to the Class of 2018 who received their degrees from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in its 67th Commencement Ceremony held at the Mondavi Center on May 26th. Among those graduating were 133 DVM students, 30 residents and seven students in the Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine program.

Chancellor Gary May welcomed all in attendance and encouraged graduates to live by a simple tenet: try every day to help someone. He likened the grads to turtles on a fencepost; they didn’t get there by themselves. Our success is built on the help of others, he said.

He also urged them to keep doing whatever brings joy—whether that is helping shelter animals, volunteering with underserved communities, or even collecting comic books. With a collection of over 13,000 now, Chancellor May said he has always been drawn to those stories because they revolve around superheroes using their powers for good. 

“Go out into the world and use your superpowers—and may you live long and prosper,” said Chancellor May as he flashed the students his traditional Star Trek sign. 

Dr. Andrew Clark, CEO of AVMA PLIT, presented the commencement address. He recalled his doubt in pursuing an MBA after 20 years of being out of the classroom. He emphasized the importance of stating your intention aloud with someone you care about. That helped him achieve his goals and success in launching a second career.

Associate Dean of Academic Programs Jan Ilkiw presented Jose Guerrero Cota with the school medal, the highest honor for a graduating DVM student in recognition of outstanding academic and clinical performance. On hand to see his achievement were his immediate and extended families, the Haas and Lopez families. Guerrero Cota was the first recipient of the Francisco “Pancho” Lopez Scholarship, established by Bob Haas to provide four years of support for a Hispanic student entering veterinary school. The inspiration was to honor “Pancho” Lopez, a close friend of the Haas family and an accomplished horseman, responsible for the care of some of the world’s foremost equine athletes in showjumping. 

Dr. Patricia Pesavento was selected as faculty speaker by the students. “Turtle, fencepost,” she said as she took the podium and patted herself on the head. Her trademark humor was in full force as she praised the graduating class for their distinguished intellect and their good looks.

“I’ve never really questioned the intelligence of this class until now—why am I here?” she said to roars of laughter.

“My first guess was that you wanted to make Dean Michael Lairmore really nervous,” she addressed the students. “Mission accomplished. Secondly, I thought y’all might want to review the entire lymphatic circulation in our final moments together. And lastly, perhaps you want me to use this moment to make some selective, focused points.”

That last guess she said may be difficult because one of her students had written in a review: “Dr. P lectures like a raccoon trapped in an espresso coffee shop.”

After a few more jokes, Pesavento provided a bit of wisdom that applied not only to the graduates on the stage, but to the audience as well. 

“Invent your personal invisible CPR—a compliment praise robe that you can wrap around yourself when the negative thoughts threaten to overwhelm the positive ones. Take all the positive feedback you get and hold onto that to use when you need it most.”

“Being an excellent clinician means living with what you don’t know. Be humble about medicine, but not about who you are. Know that we are all deeply proud of you. Class of 2018, you have SO got this!” Her last words brought the students to their feet in a standing ovation. 

Dean Michael Lairmore urged graduates to be resilient—to live life by a compass not a clock, in the words of Stephen Covey. He introduced Jordan Cole, the selected student speaker, who built on the dean’s theme of building resilience. 

“UC Davis Vet Med is more than a community, it is a village,” Cole said. “It takes a village to raise a veterinarian.”

A recording of the Commencement can be viewed here