Back to School: 47 SGU Alumni Return to Grenada for CME Conference

This March, nearly 50 alumni from St. George’s University School of Medicine returned to the True Blue campus and to the island where for many, it all began. Hosted by the SOM Alumni Association (SOMAA), SGU graduates came back to attend the 2024 Art of Medicine continuing medical education (CME) conference.

During the four-day event, held in association with the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), participants had the opportunity to learn about new advancements across the medical landscape, while earning up to 16 CME credits. SGU grads also had a chance to reunite with classmates and faculty, while making connections with future inductees (students) into the 22,000-member alumni network.

“As a single event, this SOMAA CME conference consistently accomplishes several key success objectives,” said Dr. Brendon La Grenade, vice provost for Institutional Advancement and head of Alumni Affairs. “It provides an avenue for our alumni to reconnect with this island and this institution where it all began; it allows them to connect with current students who are inspired by their stories of success; and it gives them a chance to network with fellow alumni, strengthening this outstanding community of 22,000 strong and growing—all while sharing and enhancing their medical education.”



Alumni and Students Connect

The Alumni/Student Speed Networking event was a highlight of the CME conference this year, giving Term 4 and 5 SOM students the opportunity to connect with alumni, many of whom are top specialists in their fields.

Students had the chance to establish professional relationships with returning alumni and ask questions about their journeys to a career in medicine, opening avenues for the returning physicians to share their insights about the rigors of the profession.

“I love attending events like these because you get to talk to an actual SGU alum in person,” said Emilee Atkins, a Term 5 SOM student. “This is someone who has been in my shoes and can offer valuable insight on what’s going to come and some good advice on how to tackle it. This is beneficial not only now as I’m about to start my clinical years, but also later when I’m applying for residency.”

Wondering what this year’s CME conference was like? Check out the photos to see what you missed.


  • The seventh annual SOMAA CME grew in participation since last year, with 85 attendees, 47 of whom were SGU alumni, as well as 11 Grenadian physicians who practice locally.

  • Alumni received a warm welcome from Vice Provost Brendon La Grenade; SOM Dean Marios Loukas; Grenada’s Minister of Health, the Hon. Phillip Telesford; and Provost Glen Jacobs (from left to right).

  • Joseph Allen, MD ’90, was happy to reunite with Dean C.V. Rao and SOMAA President Bruce Bonanno, MD ’83.

  • Conference attendees were able to purchase a variety of SGU and SOM Alumni Association memorabilia.

  • A highlight of the four-day conference was the Alumni/Student Speed Networking event, which allowed the visiting physicians to share some words of advice with current medical students.

  • Proud alumnae, Alena Wade, MD ’06 and Katusha Cornwall-Griffith, MD ’11 were the event’s co-hosts.

  • Learning strategist, Jessica Milner, MD ’22, came back to Grenada to work in the Department of Educational Services here at SGU. She shared that the reason she returned was to give back to the community that gave her the chance to pursue her dreams.

  • Year 4 SOM student, Folarin Adeyemi was eager to have his questions answered, especially since finding out he recently matched into a general surgery residency.

  • For conference-goers, their time in Grenada wasn’t only about lectures and education. The SOMAA provided plenty of opportunities to experience a taste of culture and hospitality on the island many called home during their studies.


– Ray-Donna Peters

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SVM Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Christianne Shaw, recent White Coat Ceremony Master of Ceremonies

Christianne Shaw, DVM '12, assistant professor, Small Animal Medicine

What’s it like to be a Master of Ceremonies? Just ask Christianne Shaw, DVM ’12, who accepted the role with pride for the January 2024 School of Veterinary Medicine White Coat Ceremony at St. George’s University.

“January 2008—16 years ago, I was wearing this white coat, sitting right where all of you are, thinking, what did I get myself into,” Dr. Shaw said during her opening comments. “I was nervous and scared, but also so proud. I had finally done it. I got into vet school and here we go. Throughout my three years in Grenada, it was really tough and challenging but also so rewarding. … It was an amazing experience while being at SGU.”

Students in the SVM’s Class of 2028 took to the stage at Patrick F. Adams Hall on January 27 to receive their white coats—signaling the start of their professional journey.


Read more about the School of Veterinary Medicine’s recent White Coat Ceremony


After attending SGU, Dr. Shaw returned to her home state of Ohio, completing her clinical year at The Ohio State University. She worked as an associate veterinarian, practicing in various small animal clinics. Since graduating from SGU, Dr. Shaw has been a regular visitor to Grenada and recently came back full time, accepting a position as assistant professor in the Small Animal Clinic.

“Being on this beautiful island and St. George’s University meant so much to me as a student that I wanted to be able to come back as an experienced veterinarian and give back to all of the future veterinarians,” she said.

SGU News caught up with Dr. Shaw to learn more about her SGU experience, what she is most excited for as a full-time resident in Grenada, and her advice for veterinary students.

SGU: How did you react when you were asked to be Master of Ceremonies for the White Coat Ceremony?

Dr. Shaw: School of Veterinary Medicine Dean, Dr. Neil Olson and I met over Zoom so that he could personally ask me to be the Master of Ceremonies. It was a huge honor to have such an important role in welcoming the new first-term students into the veterinary profession. It was also exactly 16 years since my own White Coat Ceremony at SGU (January 2008), so the experience was very surreal for me.


Christianne Shaw, DVM '12, master of ceremonies, SVM WCC

Christianne Shaw, DVM ’12, accepted the role of Master of Ceremonies with pride for the January 2024 School of Veterinary Medicine White Coat Ceremony at St. George’s University.

SGU: What does it mean to you to be back on island teaching the next generation of veterinary students?

Dr. Shaw: My husband (Mike) and I have traveled back to Grenada yearly since I graduated in 2012 and have dreamed of moving here one day. I am grateful for being given this opportunity with SGU to make that dream a reality.

SGU: What learnings do you hope to pass on to students in the Small Animal Clinic?

Dr. Shaw: I am using all of my experience and knowledge (12 years in small animal general practice) to help prepare future veterinarians to smoothly transition into the working world. I am also excited to learn and grow from the current students since I have been out of school for 12 years.

SGU: What most excites you about being back on island?

Dr. Shaw: The beautiful island and warm weather! I was tired of the cold, long winters in Ohio.

SGU: Favorite class as a student?

Dr. Shaw: My favorite classes as a student were the ambulatory/large animal. I especially enjoyed traveling to different farms and helping the animals and farmers throughout the island. I also really enjoyed the large animal rotations in my clinical year at The Ohio State University. Even though I was planning on going into small animal practice, I appreciated just how different large animal medicine can be!

SGU: How did SGU help you achieve your career goals?

Dr. Shaw: At SGU there was—and still is—an endless supply of help and support from faculty and staff members to fellow students. Everyone worked together to be able to accomplish the amazing goal of being veterinarians. The three years I spent in Grenada thoroughly prepared me to go on to my clinical year at OSU.

SGU: What is your favorite animal to work with?

Dr. Shaw: My favorite animals to work with were at the Cleveland Zoo while I was in undergraduate school. This included fruit bats, rhinos, and even a zebra!

SGU: Any pets? Are they with you on island?

Dr. Shaw: I had brought my 19-year-old kitty to the island, but she unfortunately went missing after being here a few weeks. Mike and I do a lot of traveling so it is easier to not have any pets of my own…I get plenty of snuggles at the clinic!

SGU: What should aspiring veterinarians know about SGU?

Dr. Shaw: Although the island is far away from home for most students, it is an absolutely amazing place to be while accomplishing the dream of becoming a veterinarian.


– Laurie Chartorynsky


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5 top SGU School of Medicine stories in 2023

SOM Must Read News of 2023

From lifelong dreams coming true on Match Day to expanded clinical opportunities to a prestigious grant that paved the way for students to complete mental health research in underserved communities, the St. George’s University School of Medicine community made its mark in 2023. 

Find out which stories made our list of SOM “must reads” this year. And when you’re done, don’t forget to read our top trending School of Veterinary Medicine stories this year as well. 



1. Match Day 2023 

Dreams came true for many aspiring physicians on Match Day 2023.

More than 1,000 medical students and graduates secured first-time residency positions in the US across specialties that included neurology, urology, emergency medicine, surgery, and more. Wondering what it feels like to match? SGU Students shared what it felt like to discover that all their hard work led them to being able to add “MD” next to their name.

Read how Dreams came true on Match Day 2023
View 2023 residencies


2. Back to School: Campus gets a mini makeover

Students coming to campus for the first time or returning to medical school in August 2023 came back to several expansion and redevelopment initiatives on the True Blue campus. This included a revamped bookstore, expanded Welcome Centre, renovations of the Charter Hall Radiology Lab, additional classrooms, and a new area for School of Veterinary Medicine communications curriculum.

See the renovations and mini makeover at the SGU True Blue campus


3. Clinical rotation opportunities: SGU expands its partnership with NYC Health + Hospitals

Earlier this year, SGU renewed and expanded its relationship with NYC Health + Hospitals to bolster the pipeline of physicians from diverse backgrounds into New York’s healthcare system.

The agreement extends opportunities for SGU medical students to complete clinical rotations at affiliated NYC hospitals during their third and fourth years of study, gaining hands-on experience at some of the most culturally diverse hospitals in the country.  The agreement also increases the number of full-tuition medical school scholarships awarded through the SGU School of Medicine CityDoctors scholarship program from 12 to 15 each year.

Learn how SGU and NYC Health + Hospitals are strengthening the clinical rotation pipeline


4. Making a difference: Students use grant to further mental health research

Two School of Medicine students used a prestigious grant awarded to St. George’s University to further their research in mental health initiatives for underserved communities.

SGU and fourth-year students John Crane and Janice Lee were among the 2022-2023 recipients of  The American Psychiatric Association Foundation’s (APAF) Helping Hands Grant Program. SGU is one of the few international medical schools to receive the award since the program’s inception in 2005.

Read how SGU students used a prestigious APA “Helping Hands Grant” to benefit underserved populations


5. Why a Caribbean school was right for me: SOM grad featured in AMSA’s The New Physician

Earning an MD from a Caribbean medical school offers several benefits to future physicians, and SGU alum Joshua Ramjist, MD ’11, shared his advice for those weighing the pros and cons of attending an institution outside of the United States.

“My advice? Go for it, but do your research first,” according to an editorial written by the pediatric surgery fellow in the Spring issue of the American Medical Student Association’s The New Physician.

Titled, “A Global Education Helped Me Become a Better Doctor It Can Do the Same for You,” Dr. Ramjist shared his positive experience as a student at St. George’s University and why he chose to attend a Caribbean medical school.

Read about the School of Medicine grad featured in AMSA’s The New Physician


-Laurie Chartorynsky 

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5 top SGU School of Veterinary Medicine stories in 2023

5 Trending SGU School of Veterinary Medicine stories in 2023

From students and graduates matching in competitive veterinary residencies and internships to InVeST 2023 taking place in Grenada to profiles of successful dual-degree graduates, the St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine community made its mark in 2023.

Find out which stories made our list of SVM top trending stories this year. And when you’re done, don’t forget to read our must read School of Medicine stories this year as well.



SVM commencement 2023

1. SVM commencement—A 20-year legacy

The School of Veterinary Medicine graduation ceremony this past June was full of emotional moments and joyful celebrations. Nearly 200 graduates walked across the stage to commemorate their years of hard work at the ceremony held at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, NY.

“Twenty years ago, SGU graduated its first class of veterinary medicine, and 30 students graduated young, enthusiastic, and ready to take on the world,” said Dr. Tara Patterson, associate professor, president of the School of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Association, and a charter class member of the SVM. “Today, SGU has produced over 2,000 Doctors of Veterinary Medicine.”


Read how: SVM celebrated its 20-year legacy at the Class of 2023’s commencement


SVM student Adriana Kalaska, DVM '23, matched in the 2023 VIRMP

2. Match 2023—Students secure competitive internship and residency positions

Thirty-seven SVM students and graduates secured competitive internship and residency positions within the 2023 Veterinary Internship & Residency Matching Program (VIRMP).  

SGU-trained veterinarians achieved a match rate of 69.8 percent, the highest among Caribbean veterinary schools, according to data released by the VIRMP, a program sponsored by the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians (AAVC).

The veterinarians began their specialized training in June, in areas such as small animal internal medicine, emergency and critical care, surgery, cardiology, neurology, and diagnostic imaging within prestigious institutions in the US and Canada.

Read how: 37 SVM students secured competitive internship and residency positions through 2023 VIRMP Match


SGU SVM dual degree graduates Dr. Adria Rodriguez

3. Grads share their experiences in getting dual DVM and master’s degree

Whether it’s exploring the intersection of animal health and the human world, focusing on fundamental and applied research, or improving their business skills, SGU’s Doctor of Veterinary Medicine dual master’s degree options offer aspiring veterinarians in-depth learning opportunities and expertise within their field of choice—and enhanced career prospects.

Read more about: Pursuing a dual degree in veterinary medicine: Grads share their experiences


InVeST 2023

4. InVeST 2023 comes to Grenada

Veterinary experts traveled to SGU’s True Blue campus in February for the 7th International Veterinary Simulation in Teaching (InVeST) conference. Conference goers—including veterinarians, InVeST members, representatives from educational institutions, researchers, students, and more than 50 SGUSVM faculty, staff, and alumni—spent three days attending interactive sessions and learning how the rapidly growing area of simulation is being incorporated into the teaching practices of veterinary medicine.

SGU’s very own Dr. Francesca Ivaldi, associate professor in the Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, received the award for “Best Oral Presentation” for her presentation about the “Development of a Comprehensive Simulated Patient Model for the Physical Examination of the Dog.”

View photos from InVeST 2023: Conference goers travel to Grenada to learn latest trends in veterinary simulation


Andrew Kushnir, DVM '19, with rescued lion cubs from Ukraine-Russia war

5. Grad reflects on volunteering during Ukraine-Russia war

Andrew Kushnir, DVM ’19, spent most of 2022 volunteering his time to work with animal rescue groups and zoos to help vulnerable animals affected by the Russian-Ukraine war.

During his time in Ukraine and Poland, Dr. Kushnir saw horrific destruction and pain but also experienced joy and gratitude through the eyes of the animals he cared for, including three African lion cubs. Earlier this year, Dr. Kushnir reflected on his experience, sharing with SGU News what he learned about himself as a veterinarian and caretaker, and his plans to continue supporting animals—and their owners—most in need.

Read more about Dr. Kushnir’s experience: SVM grad reflects on Ukraine volunteer experience: “By helping people’s pets, we were helping the people”



-Laurie Chartorynsky

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3 ways integrative medicine can lower cervical cancer risk: SOM grad featured in mindbodygreen

doctor examining patient

What is the difference between integrative and traditional medicine solutions? 

“Integrative practitioners heal by treating your whole body, including the environment your body lives in and the lifestyle you expose your body to,” according to St. George’s University School of Medicine graduate, Dr. Dana Cohen

Dr. Cohen graduated SGU in 1995. As an internal and integrative medicine specialist practicing in New York City, she treats patients by offering alternative approaches to health and wellness that can complement traditional methods of treatment.  

Dr. Cohen recently shared her expertise in wellness blog, mindbodygreen. In her article, I’m a holistic MD: What I tell my patients to do to lower cervical cancer risk,” she discussed holistic strategies to lower the risk of cervical cancer.  

Her three tips included ways to:   

  • Take care of your immune system with essential nutrients and supplements; 
  • Keep hydrated; and 
  • Reduce stress. 

“Taking a holistic, proactive approach to your immune health will also enhance your overall well-being and quality of life—yet another reason to start implementing these tips today,” Dr. Cohen wrote.  




 -Laurie Chartorynsky

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On the blog: What is preventive medicine?
Grad tackles hem/onc and integrative medicine fellowships to treat patients’ “whole health”
A first of its kind: SGU launches center for integrative medicine

“Pizza, Pets and Vets:” SVMAA fosters alumni-student connections with relaunched lunchtime workshops

Pizza Pets and Vets - photo of SVM graduate, student, SVMAA and Alumni Affairs administration

The Office of Alumni Affairs and SVMAA relaunched a networking initiative designed to give SVM students on campus a fresh perspective on what it is like to work in the field of animal care and to create connections between students and SVM graduates.

St. George’s University’s Office of Alumni Affairs and School of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Association (SVMAA) recently relaunched a networking initiative designed to give SVM students on campus a fresh perspective on what it is like to work in the field of animal care and to create connections between students and SVM graduates.  

Renamed “Pizza, Pets and Vets,” the lunchtime talk series was kicked off on September 13. More than two dozen aspiring veterinarians gathered at Charter Hall Lab to listen to Kimberly Ferizolli, DVM ’14, medical director and lead veterinarian at Central Florida Community Pet Clinic. She shared her experiences as a veterinarian and co-founder of the nonprofit organization that offers high-volume, high-quality spay and neuters, mainly to feline patients. Her comments were followed by an engaging Q&A period and, of course, a pizza lunch. 

“Coming back to the island and talking to the students was a way to pay it forward,” Dr. Ferizolli said. “It’s so great to give back to SGU because that’s where my dream started. I wanted to let students know that no matter how hard school is—it is possible to make your dreams come true and to continue on with your goals.”


Students can greatly benefit from the wealth of knowledge, experiences, and shared community amongst our more than 2,500 esteemed SVM alumni,” said Tara Paterson, DVM ’03, MSc, president of the SVMAA and associate professor of Small Animal Medicine & Surgery at SGU.We’re grateful for the opportunity to bring together our alumni community with our current students, creating connections and fostering a spirit of learning that lasts a lifetime.” 


Alumni who are planning to visit Grenada, please email or SVMAA President Dr. Tara Paterson if you would like to volunteer for a “Pizza, Pets and Vets” workshop. 


Alexandra Prince, a Term 4 student and current SVM president within SGU’s Student Government Association, attended Dr. Ferizolli’s talk, noting that the session was very informative. 

“It was genuinely really amazing,” Ms. Prince said. “I think we as students are looking for those networking opportunities.”  

Ms. Prince is interested in veterinary medicine that specializes in exotic and aquatic animals, as well as surgery and feline medicine. “I want to meet as many veterinarians who specialize in these areas as possible to get a good idea of what each field actually looks like in practice,” she said.  

Student networking and mentorship opportunities

“Pizza, Pets and Vets” is just one of the ways that the Office of Alumni Affairs and SVMAA plan to increase engagement between SVM students and alumni.  

In addition, Ms. Prince has been named the SVM student-alumni representative. Having Ms. Prince in this position will further encourage connections and networking among the two groups as she shares how alumni can help make students’ SGU experience more valuable, SVMAA said. Ms. Prince said she hopes to connect students with alumni based on their area of veterinary interest or geographic location as part of her role. 


“It was genuinely really amazing. I think we as students are looking for those networking opportunities.”


Students on campus will also have opportunity to connect with SVM alumni attending the upcoming VetBolus conference, taking place in Grenada November 2 to 4. During the “Alumni Student Night,” students will be able to speak with several SVM graduates in a speed-dating type of environment.  

“The immediate goal of Alumni Affairs is to improve alumni engagement across all our support areas, which include connections with prospective students, current students (future alumni), and other alumni,” said Dr. Brendon La Grenade, SGU’s vice provost for Institutional Advancement. “This will be done through selective programming, driven by alumni interest, like ‘Pizza, Pets and Vets.’ We encourage all SVM alumni to follow your newsletter and SGU social media, stay in touch with SVMAA current events, and share your ideas with us.”   

SVM alumni interested in sharing their professional experiences during a “Pizza, Pets and Vets” lunchtime talk (in person or virtually) should email or contact SVMAA President Dr. Tara Paterson.  


— Tonya Duncan and Laurie Chartorynsky



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SGU alum shares journey to a fulfilling career in cancer outreach

Patrick Dineen, MD, MBA, is the current program manager of cancer prevention and screening at Stony Brook Cancer Center where he leads their mobile mammography program. The program provides breast cancer screenings to historically underserved communities.

One St. George’s University School of Medicine and School of Graduate Studies alum is playing a key role in making screening for breast cancer more accessible for women on Long Island through his career in cancer outreach.

Patrick Dineen, MD, MBA, is the current program manager of cancer prevention and screening at Stony Brook Cancer Center. In his role with Stony Brook, he helped establish their mobile mammography program. The program provides breast cancer screenings to historically underserved communities.

“We screen uninsured women, we also screen insured women. The working woman, who works hard, has a family, takes care of a partner, children, the last person she takes care of is herself,” said Dr. Dineen. “When we’re parking outside of her business, and she sees us, she knows she can be back at her desk in 15 minutes and get her annual screening done.”

The impact of outreach

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, nearly 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. In 2023 alone, there will be almost 300,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer in the United States. One of the most important prevention measures for invasive breast cancer is early detection.


Dr. Dineen spent his first few years at Stony Brook getting the mobile program off the ground and presenting its value to the community and businesses across Long Island. The program began servicing the community in 2018 and has since performed over 7,000 cancer screenings and detected over 40 cancers. A priority for Dr. Dineen in the inception of the program was ensuring the mobile unit’s staff was representative of the community, emphasizing the need for diversity.

“An interesting statistic is that in the brick-and-mortar facility at Stony Brook Breast Cancer, 12 percent of the women screened are minorities. Almost 80 percent of the women screened on the mobile unit are minorities,” Dr. Dineen added.

Dr. Dineen reviewing Stony Brook’s mobile mammography unit’s blueprint with his staff.

Dr. Dineen’s outreach efforts extend beyond the Long Island community. He publishes papers and speaks at conferences to inspire other healthcare professionals to think about how they can better serve communities in need. He is also the co-chair of mammography for the Mobile Healthcare Association, a national organization dedicated to increasing access to quality healthcare.

“Health equity means bringing healthcare, especially what we offer in breast cancer screening, to as many people as possible regardless of their gender, insurance status, immigration status, social determinants of health that stand in their way; making healthcare as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. And that is exactly what our program at Stony Brook was built for,” said Dr. Dineen.

Finding his path

Dr. Dineen’s interest in  cancer outreach is personal. His father, an orthopedic surgeon, passed away from cancer at 54 years old. In response to his father’s death, Dr. Dineen started a non-profit foundation that strives to bring happiness to cancer patients, the Dr. Patrick J. Dineen Memorial Foundation.

“My father was a doctor, and seeing how he led his life and the impact he made on other people’s lives made me want to be just like him,” Dr. Dineen said. “I know he would be proud of me as he has since passed from cancer, which led me down the path I’m on today.”

While Dr. Dineen ended up with a career in cancer outreach, the path he took to medical school was not a traditional one. He majored in accounting and planned to enter a career in business after graduating with his bachelor’s degree. Dr. Dineen also pursued his other passion, ice hockey, playing on a minor league team. It wasn’t long, though, until he realized his true calling was in medicine. And for Dr. Dineen, choosing SGU for his medical school journey was an easy decision.

“What made SGU stand out to me were the people that I knew in the healthcare system,” said Dr. Dineen. “Growing up in the world of medicine, SGU was a name that I repeatedly heard. I knew I would find the right home at SGU because of its reputation and others before me who had similar paths and were now happy, comfortable, and successful upon graduation.”

Once he was on his way to a career as a physician, Dr. Dineen realized he didn’t want to give up his passion for business. He decided to combine his interests and pursued his MBA with the goal of working on the business side of medicine.

A perfect day on the job

Dr. Dineen eventually crossed paths with Stony Brook Medicine. They approached him with the opportunity to lead their mobile mammography program.

“I stepped back and thought about my values and what I love. I love speaking with people, I’m a person of the community, I love having an impact,” Dr. Dineen said. “Despite it being a different path than the one I originally intended, a career in cancer outreach was the right way for me to move forward in healthcare.”

Dr. Dineen meeting with community members to discuss the importance of breast cancer screenings.

Evaluating where he is now, Dr. Dineen is grateful to have taken the road less traveled. It allows him to experience what he deems his perfect day in the role.

“My perfect day is getting feedback from those I supervise or our community partners about the impact we made. Although it’s a bittersweet moment when our team finds someone’s cancer, we also recognize that if we hadn’t discovered it, the patient might never have undergone screening for various reasons. Screenings allow us to find cancer before there is a physical manifestation. I can’t imagine a better day than hearing stories about the lives we’ve saved.”

—Sarah Stoss


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SVM alumna featured on Animal Planet TV series

Dr. Regan Schwartz, 2019 SVM graduate

Dedicating yourself to helping animals in need is a noble calling, but it may not be fully understood to what lengths veterinarians go to save the animals that come into their clinic. One St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine graduate is helping to change that as she gives an inside look at her daily life as a veterinarian in the Animal Planet series, “Pets and Pickers.”

Dr. Regan Schwartz, a 2019 SGU graduate with a dual degree in veterinary medicine and public health, practices at the Regional Animal Protection Society (RAPS), a nonprofit organization in Richmond, British Columbia. The television show, which aired its first season in the spring of 2022 (it was recently renewed for a third season), follows Dr. Schwartz and her colleagues at RAPS hospital in their day-to-day professional lives and seeks to raise awareness about animal welfare.

“There was a vision for the show, and it evolved,” said Dr. Schwartz. “The primary goal of the program is to raise awareness of the organization and grant exposure to encourage further support and involvement.”

Six veterinarians are featured in “Pets and Pickers.” The film crew shadowed the veterinarians over the course of six months, filming enough for two seasons worth, based on specific cases of interest and conducted interviews at the end of the show. After many weeks of the camera crew following the cast around the hospital, Dr. Schwartz said they all became like a big family.

“The filming process was a rewarding experience. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done on these first two seasons,” added Dr. Schwartz.


Dr. Regan Schwartz, a 2019 School of Veterinary Medicine graduate.

A Passion for Helping Animals

Originally from Toronto, Dr. Schwartz decided to apply to SGU when she discovered their dual-degree program in public health and veterinary medicine. Dr. Schwartz’s lifelong passion for community service and supporting communities in need led her to work extensively abroad, including in Nicaragua, Nepal, and Africa, before she began her current position. So, when a role opened at RAPS, Dr. Schwartz knew the opportunity would allow her to continue doing the work she loves. The show came later.

Dr. Schwartz said that SGU provided a supportive environment with a small faculty that prepared her for a career in veterinary medicine. But she attributes her greatest strength as a veterinarian to her parents, who instilled extreme compassion and empathy when she was growing up.

“I feel animal suffering so deeply that I work hard to alleviate it,” said Dr. Schwartz. “When I watched myself on TV, I definitely saw it as an asset, and it reassured me that this is what I’m meant to do.”


Regan Schwartz, a 2019 School of Veterinary Medicine graduate.


– Madeline Otto

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School of Medicine Grad Featured in AMSA’s The New Physician

St. George's University campus, sunset view

Earning an MD from a Caribbean medical school offers several benefits to future physicians, and St. George’s University alum Joshua Ramjist, MD ’11, is sharing his advice for those weighing the pros and cons of attending an institution outside of the United States.  

“My advice? Go for it, but do your research first,” according to an editorial written by the pediatric surgery fellow in the Spring issue of the American Medical Student Association’s The New Physician.  

Titled, “A Global Education Helped Me Become a Better Doctor It Can Do the Same for You,” Dr. Ramjist shared his positive experience as a student at St. George’s University and why he chose to attend a Caribbean medical school.  


Among the reasons he is glad he went to SGU, in his words: 

  • A truly international education: A diverse array of classmates led to learning about different cultures and their healthcare systems. 
  • Global clinical experience: Dr. Ramjist spent his first year of medical school in Newcastle, UK thanks to a partnership between SGU and Northumbria University (he spent his second year in Grenada); he traveled to Thailand to participate in a two-week long selective; and completed rotations and ultimately matching in Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY.  
  • The ability to practice anywhere in the world: SGU gave him the tools needed to pass licensing exams not just in the US but in other countries.  


“Many medical school hopefuls may not consider Caribbean medical schools. But that can be a mistake. Caribbean schools can offer a truly global education, and open up a path to practicing medicine in the United States or Canada.”

Dr. Ramjist added that prospective students need to do their research before committing to a school, looking at things like residency placement and licensing exam pass rates; how well a school supports students in their journey both academically and non-academically; scholarship/financial aid opportunities; and accreditation, among other aspects.  

All that said, today, Dr. Ramjist, MD, MSc, MBA, FRCS(C) practices in the division of general and thoracic surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario. In 2019, he was named as the Maimonides Medical Center Department of Surgery’s Chief Resident of the Decade.  

“My international education has allowed me to better care for patients of different backgrounds and identities. I can relate to their experiences when I’m at their bedside. And I see them not just for the disease they have but as a whole person, culture and all,” he said. “For these reasons, I’d encourage any student considering a Caribbean medical school to take the leap.” 


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SAS Alumna Awarded Top Student by Royal Society of Biology

St. George’s University proudly congratulates Shanelle Gilkes on winning the Royal Society of Biology award for top student. The RSB award recognizes outstanding achievements in biological research by students in the accredited B.Sc. in marine, wildlife, and conservation biology program. The honor represents a significant accomplishment of a student’s dedication to scientific research. Shanelle is a recent alumna and the first SGU awardee from the program.

The Royal Society of Biology is responsible for advancing education and professional development and encouraging public interest in the life sciences. One student who has completed their capstone research project receives the award yearly. The Royal Society of Biology award is highly regarded within the scientific community. The honor provides students a significant advantage when applying to universities for graduate studies or pursuing further scientific research.

The winning project

Shanelle’s winning capstone research project focused on comparing harvested Queen Conch (lobatus gigas) populations using empty shells as a proxy measure of age at the Woburn Bay and Hog Island sites in Grenada. A lack of data in Grenada on the population structure of the queen conchs makes determining sustainability challenging. This study aimed to estimate the age of harvested queen conchs via empty shell measurements as a metric to determine whether the population is being sustainably managed. Maintaining sustainable yields and harvest of queen conchs has important implications for species conservation, local fisheries, and overall ecosystem health.

“With a personal interest in marine wildlife and conservation, I was drawn to Queen Conch research. This species is of significant ecological and economic importance,” Shanelle said.

When asked about her plans for the future, Shanelle discussed her desire to make a difference.

“My ultimate goal is to positively impact my field and contribute to meaningful change. I plan to use the knowledge and skills gained through my studies and this recognition to further this goal and pursue my passions.”

Shanelle’s SGU experience

Shanelle says that pursuing the marine wildlife and conservation program offered educational and personal growth opportunities. With the challenging academic curriculum and experienced faculty, SGU provided a solid foundation in her field of study.

“Attending SGU and pursuing the marine, wildlife, and conservation program provided me with an excellent academic foundation, practical experience, and valuable connections. This all helped me succeed in my academic and professional pursuits. With hard work and dedication, SGU helped me reach my goals and achieve my dreams,” Shanelle said.

Shanelle embodies the remarkable caliber of students produced in our accredited B.Sc. program in marine, wildlife, and conservation biology. The department extends congratulations for receiving this significant award. They hope it further motivates Shanelle to pursue endeavors in scientific research and conservation biology.

—Madeleine Otto and Sarah Stoss

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