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.”
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.
– Ray-Donna Peters