Celebrating 10 Years of Beyond Spice Family Weekend

Photo: Visiting families gather at the University Club for a Family Weekend Sunset BBQ.

Edie Reeves left her home in Nashville, Tennessee and traveled over 2,000 miles to visit her son, Cody, a first-term student at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine. Not only was it her first time visiting Grenada, it was her first time out of the country. Still, she made the journey, along with many other families from North America, the Caribbean, and Europe to attend SGU’s 15th Beyond Spice Family Weekend.

“This experience has been phenomenal. It’s more than I ever thought it would be,” said Mrs. Reeves. “From exploring the island on the heritage tour to witnessing my son put on his white coat, I could not be prouder of him. I would recommend that all parents check out SGU’s Family Weekend.”

Celebrating its 10th year since establishing Family Weekend, SGU continually looks forward to opening its doors to host students’ families who’ve come to visit the country and campus that their students now call home. The bi-annual family weekend festivities include guided campus tours; a historical sightseeing tour of Fort Frederick, the famous Grand Etang Lake, and the 30-foot Annandale Waterfalls; and lunch at Belmont Estate, a fully functional and historic plantation, among other activities.

Photo: An aerial view of Grand Etang Lake, one of the tour stops during Family Weekend.

Additionally, SGU family members are not one-time visitors. Anna and Anthony Rubano made a second trip from Bethlehem, Connecticut to visit their son, John, an incoming med student, who followed in the footsteps of his cousin, Nicholas Verdura, MD SGU ‘05. The couple arrived a week in advance to soak up as much sun, sea, and sand in the Isle of Spice before attending the momentous School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony.

“We’ve visited Grenada twice now; the campus is beautiful and every time we come back it seems to be expanding” said Mrs. Rubano. “It’s been an emotional day, but we are very proud of our son because he has worked so hard to get here. He learned about SGU through his cousin, who’s a surgeon specializing in minimally invasive surgery. After shadowing him for some time, John decided that he also wanted to become a doctor at SGU.”

Yet, Family Weekend is not a venture that only benefits SGU but has a large impact on the Grenadian economy as well, since many family members stay at local hotels, purchase handmade items from local vendors, and dine in local restaurants.

“We love hosting SGU families during Family Weekend,” said Glenroy Boatswain, Online Marketing Manager, True Blue Bay Boutique Resort. “The influx of visitors to Grenada and to our hotel and restaurant in particular has provided a much-welcomed boost in our occupancy rates. We usually see a 15-to 20-percent increase.

“The families also seem to really enjoy our daily themes when dining at our restaurant, which include Tuesday Grenadian Night, with live steel pan music, and Mexicaribbean night on Fridays, serving up Mexican and Caribbean dishes and salsa dancing, which both seem to be a big hit.”

“It is heartening to see the growth of our Family Weekend activities. From inception, it was designed to give our visitors an opportunity to learn more about Grenada and the University along with having meaningful interactions with our top administrators,” stated Colin Dowe, Associate Dean of Enrolment Planning. “The face-to-face engagements and sharing of stories has brought this part of our community closer together and argues well for building stronger relationships as we collectively support our students in realizing their various academic and professional aspirations.”

Family Weekend Fall 2018 is set for August 30 – September 2. Learn more about the festivities by visiting the Family Weekend webpage or by emailing familyweekend@sgu.edu.

– Ray-Donna Peters

Photo: Families gather for photographs following the January 2018 School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony.

A Step Forward for Aspiring Physicians—and a Familiar Setting for Some

New students at the January 2018 SGUSOM White Coat Ceremony.

More than three decades since earning their own medical degrees at St. George’s University, Matthew Coppola, MD SGU ’84, and his wife Carmela Coppola (née Carpanzano), MD SGU ’84, proudly sat in attendance as their son, Matt, took his first step into the medical profession at the Spring 2018 School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony.

“Almost 40 years ago, I met my wife in the mailroom at SGU,” said Dr. Coppola, an internal medicine specialist in Pittsburgh, PA. “Six kids later, my son, Matt, is literally following in our footsteps and hopefully will take over my practice one day.”

The 2022 Grenada class joined its fellow students from SGU’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, who began their journey two weeks earlier at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom. All together, this spring’s incoming SOM class welcomes aspiring physicians from 39 US states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and 20 countries.

The Coppolas expect to make more frequent visits to the Spice Isle. In addition to Matt’s entry into the SOM program, the Coppolas’ daughter, Maria, has hopes of attending SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine in the near future. Carmela Coppola, who practices neonatology in Pittsburgh, had been back several times in the late 1980s and helped out at Grenada’s General Hospital. A few years ago, the entire family visited the island, and Matt and Maria got a firsthand look at the SGU experience by visiting the 2015 Med/Vet Summer Leadership Academy.

Also, returning to SGU was the evening’s master of ceremonies, Donielle Sliwa, MD/MPH SGU ’12, Chief Fellow in Hematology and Oncology at Baystate Medical Center/Tufts University School of Medicine in Massachusetts. Having sat in those same seats and made the same commitment at her own White Coat Ceremony 10 years prior, Dr. Sliwa knew exactly how the incoming class felt.

“At my White Coat Ceremony, I felt a great sense of pride in my decision to become a physician and an eagerness to contribute meaningfully to the rapidly changing landscape of health care,” said Dr. Sliwa. “SGU will now give you the tools and support you need to be successful in medical school, but in the end, your true success will come from your passion to fulfill your dream, your willingness to ask for help, your humility in expressing gratitude, and your perseverance when times get tough.”

Dr. Lee Miller

Dr. Lee Miller, Professor of Pediatrics and the Associate Dean for Student Affairs at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, was the evening’s keynote speaker. Addressing the future doctors, he shared five take-home messages centered on impact, exploration, balance, privilege, and pride.

“Don’t ever take for granted the amazing impact you will have in the lives of others. Explore as many arenas as possible to create your own recipe. Maintain balance to build resiliency and to keep yourself whole. And always remember what a privilege it is to wear that white coat and know how proud we are of you today.”

St. George’s University held a moment of silence to acknowledge the passing of Dr. Arnold P. Gold, who passed away on January 23 at the age of 92. A master diagnostician, Dr. Gold became an international leader and advocate for humanism in health care. Through his foundation, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, SGU established the White Coat Ceremony beginning in 1996, and welcomed both Dr. Gold and his wife, Sandra, to deliver the ceremony’s keynote address in 2005. In 2009, his foundation inspired SGU’s chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, through which preclinical students can engage in service activities for their communities.

In addition to serving as a rite of passage for aspiring physicians, the School of Medicine White Coat Ceremonies coincide with a weekend of activities that help make up Beyond Spice Family Weekend. The University’s bi-annual event welcomes students and family members to soak up nature and culture in Grenada.

Class of 2022 Joins SGU Family at School of Veterinary Medicine White Coat Ceremony

SGUSVM student Christian Small (center) joins the Class of 2020.

Emotions ran high for 10 members of the Small family, who traveled to Grenada from all over the United States to witness Christian Small and his classmates officially enter the veterinary medical profession at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine White Coat Ceremony. As part of the ceremony, first-term students donned their white coats and recited the Oath of Professional Commitment.

“I’m a little overwhelmed right now but I am so proud of him, especially because I know the sacrifices it took for him to get here,” said his father, Christopher Small. “All the hard work he put in, being a student-athlete in undergrad, and then to graduate with honors was truly wonderful.

“As for him becoming a veterinarian, I always knew that there was something there because of his constant interest in animals as a kid. And knowing the kind of heart that he has, I think that he will be a very compassionate veterinarian.”

Sharing the Smalls’ joy was Ralph and Valerie Nahous, from Mt. Gay, St. George’s, who watched with pride as their daughter, Chelsea, was robed with her white coat. Although supportive of whatever field their daughter chose to pursue, the Nahouses were especially happy to see their daughter take the first step in her journey toward becoming the first veterinarian in the family.

“She has made me extremely proud. She has the ambition and drive to achieve all her goals in life,” extolled Mr. Nahous. “She is an inspiration to me by being so strong and having the will to go forward in the pursuit of what she wants. She is by far a better person than I am.”

Grenadian-born alumnus Rhea St. Louis, DVM SGU ’16, stood before the incoming class having graduated less than two years ago, presiding as Master of Ceremonies at the auspicious event. Now an Instructor in the Department
 of Anatomy, Physiology, and Pharmacology at the SVM, Dr. St. Louis urged the future veterinarians to make use of all the resources that SGU had to offer, just as she had done as a student.

“You are now part of an organization that is set up for you to succeed,” stated Dr. St. Louis. “You have excellent, accomplished professors who are also very approachable. I encourage you to utilize the facilities at SGU for your support. Please know that you are not alone, and no one expects you to do this all by yourself.”

Keynote Speaker Dr. Ronald K. Cott.

Delivering the keynote address, Dr. Ronald K. Cott, Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor and Advancement Consultant in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri, welcomed and congratulated the students on taking the first step towards many new goals and aspirations. Choosing to relate a series of light-hearted and fun stories, he shared with them the keys to his successful 30 years of commitment to organized veterinary medicine with humor and some sound advice.

“Please remember that each day over the next four years, you will experience what I call “Cott’s Four Cs”: Challenge, Chance, Choice, and Change,” assured Dr. Cott. “You will undoubtedly have your challenges over the next four years; you will take some chances but don’t jeopardize your integrity; you will make some good and some bad choices; and you will change, which will be the marker of your growth within this profession. Embrace the 4 Cs—all of them—as they will help you grow and carry you forward.”

The Class of 2022 hopes to join more than 1,500 SVM graduates of SGU’s veterinary medical program, which accepted its first class in August 1999. The School has since gained full accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and the Small Animal Clinic became the second practice outside the United States and Canada to earn American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) accreditation.

Global Scholars Learn What It Means to Be a Doctor

Keith B. Taylor

In January, St. George’s University medical students in the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program were welcomed to Northumbria University to take part in the traditional White Coat Ceremony. Students were presented with their White Coats by leading medical professionals, including Master of Ceremonies Dr. Ranmith Perera and Keynote Speaker Dr. Linda de Cossart.

Ranmith Perera, MD SGU ’94, thanked the University for providing him with the opportunity to pursue his career in medicine. He spoke of losing hope when, in the early 1980s, the government of Sri Lanka closed down the North Colombo Medical School, where he was enrolled. But he explained, thanks to a special program established at SGU, Sri Lankan medical students were welcomed to Grenada to continue their studies.

Dr. Perera went on to outline his journey, beginning as a pathologist at the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh and Western General Hospital as a Senior House Officer in Histopathology, before becoming a Specialty Registrar in London at St. George’s Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital. He is now a consultant pathologist in the Department of Cellular Pathology at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, one of the largest kidney transplant programmes in the UK.

His parting words outlined to the valuable contribution SGU’s students will make to society. “There is a global shortage of doctors, so work hard and hurry up. The world can’t wait.”

In her keynote address, Dr. Linda de Cossart spoke about what it means to be a doctor. “Is being a doctor just another job?” she asked—before highlighting the great responsibility the students will face following graduation. Being a doctor is different, she suggested, “because the patients you will meet will be vulnerable; often at one of the lowest points in their lives.”

Commenting on the role of technology in medicine, and the concerns within some parts of the medical community that automation may remove the need for doctors, Dr. de Cossart said, “technological prowess and scientific knowledge are essential, but the thing that will define you as a doctor is how you deal with patients.” She emphasized that, while doctors must be adaptable and stay on top of technological advancements, their role as a compassionate figure providing reassurance and dignity to patients is not under threat.

Dr. de Cossart recounted how she learned these lessons from personal experience. Having decided to become a vascular surgeon, she was set back early in her career when—having run into the operating theatre to assist in an ongoing procedure, she fainted. Struggling to come to terms with what had happened, it was months later when Dr. de Cossart was diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening disease. While her recovery took a number of years, by seeking help and support from others, she went on to enjoy a long career—for 22 years as a Consultant Vascular and General Surgeon, and now as an Emeritus Consultant. In 1999, Dr. de Cossart was elected to the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons, where she served as Vice President—proving that even the greatest obstacles can be overcome.

“Surround yourself with help,” she implored the students. “You will need it.”

Lending the benefit of her experience as a world-leading surgeon, she cautioned the students to prepare for their first day as a qualified doctor. “You may feel ready, and you can have all the knowledge in the world. But until you are standing in front of a patient, having to make a decision that will impact their lives, you won’t know what it’s like.” Warning that this will be unnerving, she advised the students to embrace the responsibility. “Your professional development will be shaped by these experiences.”

“I hope some of the things I have said today have inspired you” were her parting words. The students’ applause confirmed that they had.

SVM Alumni Study Soft Tissue Surgery at Continuing Ed Conference

Since opening in 1999, St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine has graduated more than 1,400 veterinarians who have practiced all over the world. In October, its Alumni Association, the SVMAA, welcomed back many of them for a continuing education conference reviewing methods in soft tissue surgery.

The two-day conference featured presentations by Dr. Karen Tobias, Professor of Small Animal Surgery at the University of Tennessee. Internationally recognized for her work on portosystemic shunts in dogs, Dr. Tobias shared her expertise on making these surgeries easier and more successful, while also enjoying the campus and island that provides training for many of the clinical students she sees at U of T.

“I like to give practical and up-to-date information. Also, because I’m a book editor and author, I get to see some of the more recent information that comes in; it’s nice to be able to share that with other veterinarians,” said Dr. Tobias. “These lectures provide some of the newer literature regarding the effects of ovariohysterectomy and castration on dogs and cats. I also discussed surgical techniques for treating common canine and feline head and neck conditions, and inexpensive, effective methods for wound management, particularly in farm animals.”

Dr. Tobias has spent over 17 years of her 30-year veterinary medical career at the University of Tennessee, and has written more than 100 scientific articles and book chapters. She is also the author of the textbook, Manual of Small Animal Soft Tissue Surgery; co-author of Atlas of Ear Diseases of the Dog and Cat; and co-editor of the textbook, Veterinary Surgery: Small Animal.

“The SGUSVM Continuing Education events are a fantastic opportunity for our alumni to return to Grenada for a weekend of high-quality CE, fun, and nostalgia,” said Dr. Tara Paterson, SVMAA President. “Our alumni attendees love visiting all of their favorite spots and celebrating 40 years of growth at SGU, all while mixing in a little learning. This fall, we were fortunate to have Dr. Tobias as our presenter. It doesn’t get better than that.”

Outstanding Achievements Celebrated Within the School of Veterinary Medicine

In a celebration of excellence, honoring faculty, staff, and students for outstanding achievement, the School of Veterinary Medicine hosted the bi-annual SVM Awards Ceremony in November, at Bourne Lecture Hall. Fifty-seven different awards were presented to faculty and staff who demonstrated remarkable service and commitment to the veterinary school, and to students who demonstrated exceptional academic achievement, professionalism, and work ethic.

“It’s such an important aspect of the School of Veterinary Medicine to honor the very special achievements of faculty, students, and staff. It brings the whole community together with a sense of unity everyone feels,” stated Dr. Neil Olson, Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. “We really are one family and it’s great to be a part of this joyous occasion. I think that the students in particular will have long memories of this evening and I look forward to sharing in many more of these kinds of celebrations.”

One of the ceremony’s highlights included the Zoetis Excellence in Research Award being given to Dr. Sonia Cheetham-Brow, an Associate Professor and Course Director of Veterinary Virology in the Department of Pathobiology at SGU. The award honors those who demonstrate excellence in original research, leadership in the scientific community, and exceptional mentoring of trainees and colleagues in any discipline of veterinary medicine. In addition to recognizing recipients’ outstanding research and scholarly achievements, the award also comes with a US $1,000 honorarium.

“Research can be challenging—results don’t always show what you expect and it may take some time, but it can also be very gratifying, especially when your efforts are recognized.” commented Dr. Cheetham-Brow. “My enthusiasm and passion for research is something that I also try to pass along to my students, and hopefully winning this award will show them that the hard work you put into research doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Additionally, the spotlight also belonged to third-year veterinary student Melanese Edwards, who won a grand total of four awards for the evening.

For upholding the character and values of the School of Veterinary Medicine, she was awarded the SVM Alumni Award; followed by the Outstanding Colleague Award for Term 6, an award that is voted on by the classmates of the recipient. She then received the George B. Daniel Award, a Student Government Association (SGA) award, selected by representatives of the vet school to be given to a sixth-term candidate who best demonstrates the ideals of leadership and service of the SGA. And lastly, the PAWS Recognition of Service award, which is given to a sixth-term student who has demonstrated leadership, professionalism, and service as a facilitator for the upcoming Term 1 students.

“Words cannot truly express how honored I am to receive these awards. I certainly did not expect them, but I am forever grateful,” said Ms. Edwards. “I am truly humbled that my peers and the faculty and staff see the potential in me. That I have made a positive impact on their lives and they chose to nominate me for these awards was an overwhelming feeling that brought tears to my eyes.”

Ms. Edwards has moved to Auburn, Alabama where she is completing her clinical training at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. After its completion, she plans to apply for an internship, and eventually move on to a residency in the hopes of specializing in ophthalmology.

SAS Lecture Series Discusses Effects of Parental Migration

Meschida Philip introduces her documentary at Patrick Adams Hall.

Meschida Philip, Grenadian filmmaker and founder of Meaningful Projekts Creative Group, recently showcased her documentary, “Scars of Our Mothers’ Dreams”, as part of St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences Open Lecture Series. The film, which offers a unique and intimate glimpse into the complexities of parental migration through the lenses of children left behind, was followed by a spirited panel discussion with the mix of faculty, staff, students, and the general public in attendance at Patrick Adams Hall.

The lecture was a collaborative effort between SGU’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and the University of the West Indies Open Campus.

“I wanted to start a conversation by looking at how children are emotionally affected when a parent is gone,” said Ms. Philip. “In most cases, we tend to focus on the financial gain—that parents were leaving to make better lives for their children. But what about the importance of nurturing the emotional connection between a mother and her child?”

Years after her own personal struggle to overcome the feeling of childhood abandonment, Ms. Philip returned to Grenada to share the stories of others with similar childhood experiences, describing how their lives were impacted after their parents migrated.

“I wanted to examine not just the economic benefits of a parent migrating but how we the children were affected emotionally and psychologically,” stated Ms. Philip. “Also, I wanted to find out if there were any common themes between myself and other people that affected us from childhood into adulthood.”

“Migration is a hot button issue right now that has both local and international appeal,” said Dr. Damian Greaves, Associate Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. “In the past, the focus would usually be on the great economic benefit to the Caribbean in terms of remittances from the diaspora. However, I thought it was very important to highlight Ms. Philip’s unique perspective when addressing an issue that is so little talked about but has such a large effect on so many in our Grenadian community.

“The purpose of this lecture was not only to start the conversation but also to bring an awareness to bear on the Grenadian public, that there are people who have been scarred psychologically and emotionally by the migration of their parents, who through no conscious and deliberate fault of their own, thought that they were building a better life for their children but were unaware of what transpired in their absence,” added Dr. Greaves. “Our hope is that when looking at the issue of migration we can be mindful of the social policies that are needed in order to affect change at the state level.”

AMSA Conference in Grenada Dives Into Medicine That Matters in 2017

SGU AMSA’s President, Judy Wong (far left), and SGU AMSA Executive Board Members greet conference guests.

The St. George’s University-led chapter of the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) brought together a combination of expert facilitators and physicians-in-training during its 2017 AMSA International Conference in Grenada. Assembled for only the second time outside of the United States, the two-day conference, held October 21 and 22, focused on “Preparing for Medicine that Matters,” providing attendees with an opportunity to explore current issues in medicine, build clinical skills, and connect with peers and other healthcare professionals.

“The conference provided a networking opportunity and a chance to educate our students outside of a classroom setting,” said Judy Wong, SGU AMSA President. “In particular, the Practicing Physicians Panel allowed students to have their questions answered about various specialties and the road to pursuing them.”

In addition to more than 15 dynamic clinical skills sessions, students experienced an interactive exhibit fair that showcased medical technology that will shape their future practice. The conference also featured a keynote address by Dr. Marios Loukas, Dean of Basic Sciences at St. George’s University, and Professor of Anatomy in the School of Medicine. Other guest speakers included: Rebekah Apple, Director of Student Affairs and Programming, AMSA National; Elizabeth Ingraham, Assistant Vice President, Communications and Outreach at the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates; and Dr. Anthony Orsini, Neonatologist, Orlando Health, and Founder of the Breaking Bad News Foundation.

“This year’s speakers not only shared insights on residency preparedness but also techniques for having tough conversations, such as delivering bad news to patients and providing help on how to navigate ethical dilemmas that challenge physicians today,” said Ms. Wong.

Brushing up on anatomy and building clinical skills with an ultrasound lab.

Located Below the Hurricane Belt, St. George’s University Aids Its Northern Neighbors in Need

St. George’s University students, faculty, and staff are collaborating to lend a hand to citizens of Caribbean islands impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Grenada is, thankfully, south of the usual hurricane path and can assist its northern neighbors. The recent wave of storms has personally affected the friends and families of many students and staff members from the Caribbean.

“The people and the infrastructure in these countries have been dramatically affected by these storms, and it’s important that we band together to do what we can to assist in the relief efforts,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President of St. George’s University.

On Wednesday and Thursday, SGU rallied together to make significant contributions to those in need, donating everything from non-perishable food and gently used clothing to toiletries and water to drop-off locations at Charter Hall and Bourne Hall. Representatives from the University’s Student Government Association will take inventory of donated items in preparation of delivery next week through Grenada’s National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA), which is working with the Red Cross and other organizations to coordinate relief efforts in the region.

In addition, individuals have made monetary contributions to NaDMA through the Grenada Cooperative Bank. The Dean of Students office and Psychological Services Center have also been open to all those in need of assistance.

“In their time of need, we need to be an institution and a community that they can lean on,” Dr. Olds said. “We preach compassion and altruism in everything that we do and in day-to-day life, and this is a prime example of when we need to be here for people who need us.”

Next month, the undergraduate student organization ECO (Education Conservation Outreach) is planning a faculty and student talent and fashion show, with models wearing clothing made entirely of recycle goods and/or local, natural products. All funds generated from the event—set for October 27—will be given to relief organizations providing aid in Antigua, Barbuda, and Dominica.

Tickets will be on sale at the Student Center beginning on October 19. Individuals interested in participating in the event can email ECO President Michelle Taylor at mtaylor2@sgu.edu.

New Beginnings at the School of Veterinary Medicine White Coat Ceremony

At the Fall 2017 School of Veterinary Medicine White Coat Ceremony, St. George’s University welcomed a new dean, a new class of students, and the return of a graduate who had navigated the course on which they were about to embark.

Alumnus and Master of Ceremonies Emily Turitto, DVM SGU ’15, counselled the incoming class on the importance of reciting the Oath of Professional Commitment.

“Today you’re not only receiving your white coat but you’re also taking your veterinary oath which is a very big commitment,” said Dr. Turitto, an Instructor in the Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at SGU. “At the time I took mine, I thought it was exciting, but I didn’t really understand the responsibility and accountability that I would have for animal welfare for the rest of my life.

“Please take your veterinary oath seriously because at some point you will question that oath and whether or not you’re making a real difference,” she added. “You will be given the training, support and knowledge to bring animals into the world, prevent diseases not only for animals but for humans, cure cancer, save lives, and extend the life of man’s best friend. Once you have the best interest of the animals at heart, you can be unstoppable.”

Attending his first-ever White Coat Ceremony at St. George’s University was Dr. Neil C. Olson, newly appointed Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. He welcomed and congratulated the students on this next step in realizing their dream of becoming a veterinarian.

“To the Class of 2021 there are many aspects of becoming a veterinarian that you will encounter that go beyond the diagnosis and treatment of animal maladies and preventive care,” Dr. Olson said. “You will interact with academic faculty, clients, referring vets, donors and hospital staff all of whom play an important role in the functionality of practicing veterinary medicine.

“I would argue that the vet profession is very much a people-oriented profession. Your success as a veterinarian will have more to do with your interactions with people than any other single variable. I look forward to greeting you on your graduation day and working with you as future alumni as we navigate through the challenges and opportunities that surface in our changing environment.”

The Dean also took the opportunity to introduce Dr. Kent Hoblet, Professor and Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University (MSU). Since 2006, as Dean, he has provided expert leadership of both the College and its 509(a)(2) not-for-profit corporation, MSU Clinical Outreach Services, with clinical service and teaching operations at Animal Emergency and Referral Center (Jackson) and Veterinary Neurology and Imaging Center (Starkville).

“Keep a positive attitude, make every day count, keep an open mind to opportunities, and remember that the world needs you as highly qualified doctors of veterinary medicine,” Dr. Hoblet said.

Among the proud family members and friends also in attendance at this term’s SVM White Coat Ceremony was Dr. David Mordasky, a mixed animal practitioner who, along with his wife, Judith, founded Stafford Veterinary Center and Willington Veterinary Center in Connecticut. A practicing veterinarian for more than 40 years, Dr. Mordasky has six children, five of whom have careers ranging from attorney to civil engineer. However, it was his youngest son, Andrew, who made the decision to follow in his dad’s footsteps. The proud father coated his son on stage during the ceremony.

“My father has been a big part of my education, and to have him be able to coat me on such a significant day in my life just makes it all the more special,” said Andrew Mordasky. “I would go to work with him and I always enjoyed spending that time together and witnessing firsthand what being a veterinarian was all about. In fact, I learned about St. George’s through three SGU grads, two of which worked as associates at my dad’s office. They were instrumental in steering me toward SGU.”

He hopes to join the more than 1,400 SVM graduates of SGU’s veterinary medical program, which accepted its first class in August 1999. The School has since gained full accreditation from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and the Small Animal Clinic became the second practice outside the United States and Canada to earn American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) accreditation.