SGU Grad One of the First Surgeons to Use Cutting-Edge Robotic Surgery Device

Andrea Pakula standing in front of robotic surgery equipment

A St. George’s University School of Medicine alum is making her mark as one of the first surgeons in the country to use a new advanced robotic system to treat her patients, including in emergency care.

Adventist Health Simi Valley Hospital, where Andrea Pakula, MD ’07, MPH ’03, serves as medical director of robotic surgery, is one of only 10 hospitals in the US chosen as a premier access site to receive the da Vinci 5 in its early release phase.

The da Vinci 5 is one of the newest and most advanced surgical robots in its field. Dr. Pakula is one of the first surgeons in the country to use the advanced system, according to a recent news article highlighting the da Vinci 5 and the benefits to patient care.

Dr. Pakula demonstrating using the da Vinci 5

Dr. Pakula demonstrating the da Vinci 5

At Adventist Health Simi Valley, Dr. Pakula is a general and acute care surgeon practicing in all aspects of general surgery including bariatric, foregut, and colon surgery with a passion for hernia repair. Board-certified in both general surgery and surgical critical care, she performs surgeries and procedures entirely with the Intuitive Surgical da Vinci Robotic platform, including in her emergency surgery practice.

The da Vinci 5 allows surgeons to operate with more precision and gives them the ability to perform complex operations through only a few small incisions. This makes for much faster recoveries and return to normal activity for patients without the need for pain medications, Dr. Pakula said.

“This has worked really well for my practice,” Dr. Pakula told Intuitive, the da Vinci 5’s manufacturer. “It’s allowed me to expand minimally invasive surgery to the patients that I see through the emergency room. We’re now able to do minimally invasive surgery any time of day or night, with the same level of care.”

Dr. Pakula sitting with the DaVinci 5 robotic surgery device

In the same interview with Intuitive, Dr. Pakula said that this trend is important because it means that more surgical patients can be managed with an approach that may be less invasive, potentially contributing to fewer complications and shorter hospital stays, compared to open surgery.

Helping patients get back to their lives in the fastest, most painless way possible is Dr. Pakula’s goal and her favorite part of the job.

“I truly enjoy my patients and being able to take part in their care,” Dr. Pakula told SGU News.

An accomplished surgeon at the forefront of the field of robotic surgery, Dr. Pakula reflects on her drive and perseverance to reach where she is today. She credits SGU with helping set her on a path to success, which she capitalized on with her own determination.

“The education I received at SGU allowed me to get into one of the best fellowships in the country, and that drive has stayed with me and allowed me to excel in my career,” said Pakula.


– Juliette Kimmins


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SGU’s Class of 2024: Graduates Shine at SAS, SGS Commencement Ceremony

The St. George’s University Schools of Arts and Sciences, and Graduate Studies Class of 2024 was both proud and thankful as they received their degrees on Saturday, May 18 at the Grenada Commencement Ceremony. Proud families and friends filled Patrick F. Adams Hall in celebration as graduates crossed the stage at the milestone event.

This year’s graduating class included more than 180 students from the School of Arts and Sciences, and 71 from the School of Graduate Studies. Medical degrees were also conferred on 28 new physicians from the School of Medicine in attendance.



Addressing the nearly 300 graduates from 40 countries was Dr. Joy St. John, executive director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and this year’s keynote speaker.

“To the Class of 2024, congratulations,” said Dr. St. John. “As we celebrate your achievements, we also celebrate the future you will shape. Walk with confidence knowing that you are well equipped to navigate the complexities of the world and shine your light.”

Dr. Satesh Bidaisee (left), Dr. Joy St. John (center), and Dr. Calum Macpherson (right)

For her impressive track record of achievements in public health systems management and development and health diplomacy, Dr. St. John was inducted into the Delta Omega Honor Society, the oldest public health society in the world, which celebrates its centenary anniversary this year.

In addition, SGU hosts the Gamma Kappa chapter of the Delta Omega Honors Society and inducted the top 10 percent of this year’s MPH graduates into the chapter for demonstrating excellence in education and scholarship in research and service.



Proudly representing the School of Graduate Studies as class speaker, Dr. N’Kosha Fletcher knew exactly how her classmates felt. In addition to graduating today with a Master of Public Health in preventive medicine, she also earned her MD in 2014 and BSc in 2011 from SGU.

Dr. Calum Macpherson (left), Dr. N’Kosha Fletcher (center), and Dr. Glen Jacobs (right)

“Today you receive your degree,” Dr. Fletcher said. “But may you also receive the courage and determination to get out there and strive for excellence. Embark on this new chapter…embrace every opportunity. Chase your dreams and create a life you love.”

Joining Dr. Fletcher as a commencement speaker was SAS valedictorian Shakira Lee. Ms. Lee completed her Bachelor of Science in information technology with a perfect 4.0 GPA and is currently the personal assistant to the Honorable Kerryne James, Minister for Climate Resilience, the Environment, and Renewable Energy in Grenada.

Dr. Lucy Eugene (left), Shakira Lee (center), and Dr. Glen Jacobs

“Throughout this academic journey, I learned that perseverance is not simply about enduring,” shared Ms. Lee. “It is about forging ahead with purpose and passion. To you, my fellow graduands let your stories be guided by the resilience and determination that has brought you this far. Let our lessons inspire us to act, innovate, and elevate the world around us.”

Ceremonies for the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine will take place at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York on June 1-2.

– Ray-Donna Peters

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SGU Celebrates 25 Years of Excellence of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine

Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine

The Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at St. George’s University School of Medicine is celebrating 25 years of offering a Master of Public Health to students and contributing to building a competent public health workforce globally.


The Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at St. George’s University (SGU) School of Medicine is celebrating 25 years of offering a Master of Public Health to students and contributing to building a competent public health workforce globally.

The program, which opened its doors in the spring of 1999, has since matriculated more than 1,000 students specializing in health policy administration, environmental and occupational health, preventive medicine, veterinary medicine, global health, epidemiology, and other professional fields.

“On behalf of the St. George’s University community, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of our Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine,” said Dr. Marios Loukas, dean of the School of Medicine at St. George’s University.  “The department, with its focus on preparing students for the wide range of careers in the field of public health and preventive medicine, exemplifies SGU’s commitment to our mission of positive global impact and a truly international education.”

Early Beginnings

SGU’s public health program was the brainchild of Dr. Allen Pensick, former provost of the University. His desire to establish a public health program stemmed from the importance of equipping medical students with a holistic approach to medicine—allowing SGU-trained physicians to not only provide clinical care to patients but also have the knowledge to offer patients preventive education and tools as well. In the fall of 1999, the first students began courses in public health at SGU.

Over the years, the department has evolved to include not only School of Medicine students, but also those within SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine and School of Arts and Sciences, who are interested in pursuing careers in public health. The program proudly hosts students and faculty from countries around the world, contributing to its diverse perspective on public health.

“For the past 25 years, SGU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine has been at the forefront of promoting public health through education and practice,” according to Dr. Kerry Mitchell, assistant dean of students and chair of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. “In Grenada, the region, and even beyond, our students and faculty have tirelessly worked to raise awareness and address the social and environmental determinants impacting the health of our communities.”

Added Dr. Mitchell: “In addition, our alumni, many of whom are practicing physicians globally, hold pivotal roles in shaping public health policies and decisions. This solidifies the crucial role that St. George’s University and the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine have played in shaping a healthier future for all.”



Recognized Globally

A significant achievement of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine is its success in gaining full accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) in 2010. It is one of the few non-US based MPH programs recognized and accredited by the organization. The program continues to be accredited through 2030.

“With this accreditation, we are able to guarantee our students an approved public health master’s education as other CEPH-accredited schools internationally,” Dr. Mitchell said.

As the program has adapted to the changing needs of public health, it welcomed Collaborating Centers from the World Health Organization (WHO) in Environmental and Occupational Health in 2012 and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2013. These collaborations allow both faculty and students to carry out research and service activities in those respective fields.

The department has additional plans to keep up with the changing needs of students as well as the public health workforce.

“Our multidisciplinary team has collaborated closely with numerous local communities and global institutions to tailor and strengthen our public health training,” Dr. Mitchell said. “This adaptability is particularly evident in our reliance on guidance from our community advisory members and the international collaborating centers housed within our department. As a result, we have been able to tailor our educational approach to produce the public health practitioners our communities need.”

For example, despite the global challenges faced in recent years, the department has successfully navigated through various instructional methods, emerging as a leader in public health hybrid education.

SGU graduates with dual MD/MPH and DVM/MPH degrees are making a difference around the world.


Darren Cuthbert, MD, MPH

Darren Cuthbert, MD/MPH ’16
Emergency medicine physician
New Jersey

“SGU’s MPH program opened the door of opportunity for me. One of the things I love about medicine today is the increased emphasis placed on evidence-based medicine—public health is the backbone to this practice. Not only does having an MPH make you stick out as a leader amongst your peers, but it broadens your horizon of the world and medicine—eventually creating a better doctor and scientist.”


Alicia Persaud, MD, MPH '20

Alicia Persaud, MD, MPH ’20
Family medicine physician
Ontario, Canada

“I believe completing the MD/MPH dual degree program gave me an edge with residency programs simply by having an additional degree. It was reflective of my commitment to medicine and healthcare in general. Completing my MPH in Grenada gave me a unique insight into the global public health sector, and also gave me crucial research experience. I was able to apply both degrees to my research projects during residency.”


MPH Program Milestones - (1999-2023)


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Moving with Family to Grenada? SGU’s Student Family Network Offers Support and Resources

Student Family Network

How does St. George’s University support students who come to the island with significant others and families? What housing options are available for students with families? What is the schooling like for my kids in Grenada? Is my spouse able to work in Grenada while I’m in school?

These are some of the most common questions asked by students who make the move to Grenada with their significant others and family members.

SGU’s Student Family Network (SFN) (formerly known as the Significant Others Organization) can help. The student organization was established in 1994 as a support system for families of SGU students living in Grenada. Today, SFN prides itself on being a network of spouses, housemates, friends, family, partners, and pets—and offers resources to help them adjust to living on island.

SFN ambassador and School of Medicine student Brooke Hildebrand shared more details about the organization and how students (and faculty) with families can make the most of their time in Grenada.

SGU: What support can the SGU Student Family Network offer to students and their families?

BH: Moving to a new place is challenging. Moving to a whole new country is oftentimes emotionally terrifying! The SFN aims to ease some of the concerns and apprehension of acclimating to a new way of life by providing support, advice, and connections to anyone affiliated with SGU!

From knowing if there are eggs at the store, to finding buddies to go to the beach with, the communication and the community of SFN has proved a lifesaver for me and my family, so I can only hope it can help another in some way shape or form.

Student Family Network



SGU: What are some examples of resources that SFN offers to students?

BH: We offer various forms of communication options allowing ample questions and intercommunication among participants. Since we are a resource and not a traditional organization, there are no membership fees/dues or requirements for participation!

There are infinite “where to go” and “how to do” types of answers offered to the community through SGU Family Network communication avenues. Among our various social media presences and communication options we have sub-groups aimed toward uniting similar interest-minded individuals. Examples of a few of our group communications include: remote workers, playdates for children, SFN dudes group, book club, t-shirt design, non-kid events, and the monthly event planning groups.

SGU: What other ways do you help students and their families?

BH: Our diverse community has extensive knowledge in all aspects of life on the island, both on and off campus. We can assist with medical professional and dental referrals, lactation options on campus, any pet-related information, car and housing rental information, free time exploring options, and visa and passport renewal.

Importantly, the community bands together when things may seem amiss and jumps to help one another to ensure everyone is safe and well taken care of at all times.

SGU: Does the SFN organize activities? If so, how often?

BH: Yes! Our goal is to host a minimum of one official sanctioned event per month. We had a September kickball game; on Halloween, we trick-or-treated to the various departments on campus and other organizations hosted activity tables for kiddos, and a Thanksgiving end-of-term potluck meal!

In addition to the official activities, we do book club gatherings every

month, and a few participants have hosted gatherings off campus in various locations—some of which included hiking to the waterfalls and an evening beach party!

Student Family Network

SGU: Best piece of advice for students coming to the island with their families?

BH: I would recommend joining any of the SFN communication groups to understand the interworking’s of the island from an SGU point of view. For example, if you are living off campus, how far is a ‘5 minute’ walk going to take in rainy season and what is the terrain of that walk?

The SFN Exchange group may assist those trying to prioritize what to pack and condense their luggage into two bags. Take the time to follow and read what other people are posting or asking about in the groups to enhance your understanding of how to best prepare for the transition.

Connect with the Student Family Network

SGU Student Family Network 

SGU Family Network (SFN) 


SFN of SGU Exchange


Join chat


— Laurie Chartorynsky

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Class of 2023 Encouraged Toward a Life of Integrity and Service

Although the morning rain showers threatened to spoil the day, the St. George’s University Schools of Arts and Sciences, and Graduate Studies Class of 2023 beamed with pride and gratitude. The sun shone brightly on the True Blue campus as they received their degrees on Saturday, May 20 at the Grenada Commencement Ceremony.



Both a faculty member and a student at SGU, this year’s SGS class speaker Rachqueda Salfarlie wasn’t the only one in her family graduating that day. She shared this special milestone with her siblings, Neisha and Marvin Salfarlie, graduating with a Master of Education in curriculum pedagogy and leadership and a Bachelor of Science in management, respectively.

Neisha Salfarlie (left), Rachqueda Salfarlie (middle), and Marvin Salfarlie (right)

“This day is meaningful because I get to share it with my family,” said Ms. Salfarlie, who graduated with her third degree from SGU, a Master of Education in curriculum, pedagogy, and leadership. “My son, Xavier, will see me graduate for the first time. My siblings, Neisha and Marvin Salfarlie are also graduating here today. I am so happy that my parents, partner, and other siblings are in the audience to share in my joy.”

Joining Ms. Salfarlie as a commencement speaker was SAS valedictorian Tamara Marryshow. Ms. Marryshow completed her Bachelor of Science in business and accounting with a perfect 4.0 GPA and is currently employed by a company that recently appointed her to the position of business director. Being the first to achieve a college degree in her family is what Ms. Marryshow considers her greatest achievement—one that is as much her family’s as hers.

“I urge you always to take a moment to reflect on your successes, whether big or small,” Ms. Marryshow encouraged her fellow graduands. “For after looking back on all you’ve accomplished, how can you not be inspired to move forward? Today, we are celebrating because this academic journey has adequately prepared us for our next big milestone, one that will be more challenging but equally rewarding.”



Echoing the valedictorian’s sentiments was Professor, The Most Honorable Violet Eudine Barriteau, who addressed the more than 200 graduates from 34 countries in a keynote speech that was both poignant and topical as it focused on the theme of creating an exceptional professional life defined by service and integrity.

Professor Barriteau, a Grenadian-born Caribbean feminist scholar and activist, has a distinguished record of accomplishments and is a pioneer in women’s educational leadership. She is the first woman appointed pro-vice chancellor at The University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus and the first to become principal of two campuses at The UWI.

“On this glorious morning, as you embrace your future, wherever you go in life, always operate with these principles,” counseled Professor Barriteau. “The mutuality of respect, the reciprocity of accountability, the imperative of social justice, of course inclusive of gender justice, and a dedication to integrity and service. Go forth and conquer Grenada and the region. I congratulate you!”

Ceremonies for the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine will take place at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York on June 3-4.

– Ray-Donna Peters

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The Future Directions of Research Explored at SGU Research Day

Research was once again at the forefront of St. George’s University this spring, as it hosted the 20th SGU Research Day and Phi Zeta Research Emphasis Day at Open and Upper Modica Hall on March 18. This year’s event had something for everyone—providing ample opportunity to learn about research being conducted in all four Schools.

Faculty, staff, students, and other participants attended one of four concurrent sessions before the plenary presentation was delivered virtually by Dr. Peter Hotez, world renown scientist, pediatrician, global advocate, and leader in the field of vaccine development.

Of the faculty and student presentations showcased, 72 were posters and 70 were oral presentations, along with two symposia. A panel of judges from SGU and outside of the University reviewed the presentations and chose winners for each category based on originality, scientific merit, and level of involvement.

The complete list of winners can be seen below. The campus-based Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) presented each with a plaque on March 24.


  • Best faculty oral presentation: Dr. David Marancik – SVM (center)

  • Best student oral presentation: Hailey Bauer – SOM (second from the left)

  • Best student oral presentation: Emily Meade – SVM (center)

  • Best faculty poster presentation: Makeda Matthew-Bernard – SOM (second from the left)

  • Best faculty poster presentation: Dr. Firdous Khan – SVM (center)

  • Best student poster presentation: Tavsimran Luthra – SOM (left)

  • Best student poster presentation: Dinielle White – SVM (center)

  • Best Department of Educational Services presentation: Todd McKay (second from the right)

  • Best WINDREF presentation: Nikita Cudjoe (center)


Best Faculty Oral Presentations 

  1. Satesh Bidaisee – SOM
  2. David Marancik – SVM

Best Student Oral Presentations

  1. Hailey Bauer – SOM
  2. Emily Meade – SVM
  3. Shenel Sampson – SAS

Best Faculty Poster Presentations

  1. Makeda Matthew-Bernard – SOM
  2. Firdous Khan – SVM

Best Student Poster Presentations

  1. Tavsimran Luthra – SOM
  2. Dinielle White – SVM

Best Department of Educational Services Presentation:
Todd McKay

Best WINDREF Presentation:
Nikita Cudjoe

– Ray-Donna Peters


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Pursuing a Dual Degree in Veterinary Medicine: Grads Share Their Experiences

Dr. Adria Rodriguez, an associate professor of small animal medicine and surgery, and professional development in SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine, received her dual DVM and MSc from the University.

Many students at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine take part in unique educational opportunities that can transform their careers. One SGU course of study is a veterinary dual-degree program, where students can combine earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree with one of several master’s degrees, including: a Master of Public Health (MPH), Master of Science (MSc), or Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Whether it’s exploring the intersection of animal health and the human world, focusing on fundamental and applied research, or improving their business skills, each of these programs provides in-depth learning opportunities for aspiring veterinarians, according to Dr. David Marancik, associate dean of graduate studies for SVM.

“SGU’s graduate programs of study are diverse and can match the student’s career goals—allowing them to gain advanced knowledge and expertise within their field of choice,” Dr. Marancik said.

SGU News spoke to several dual degree veterinary alumni to find out how their degrees from the University have enhanced their career prospects and the advice they offer to students considering this educational route.

Why Pursue a Dual Degree

Sydney Friedman, DVM ’21/MPH ’21, an associate veterinarian at Hoboken Vets Animal Clinic in Hoboken, NJ, had always known she wanted to work with animals as a child. She initially pursued her DVM degree so that she could educate others and herself about disease transmission from zoonosis and preventative methods.

She then learned about the opportunity to obtain an MPH degree.

“By obtaining my MPH, I have gained additional knowledge of these diseases affecting humans, animals, and the environment, which has allowed me to expand my veterinary career in ways I didn’t think were possible,” Dr. Friedman said.

Sydney Friedman, DVM ’21/MPH ’21, an associate veterinarian at Hoboken Vets Animal Clinic in Hoboken, NJ, says her dual degree allows her to educating my clients on vaccines, disease processes, disease control, as well as disease spread.

In her current role, Dr. Friedman said she educates her clientele about the importance of preventative medicine.

“I am continuously educating my clients on vaccines, disease processes, disease control, as well as disease spread,” she said. “I am also accredited by the [U.S. Department of Agriculture] to write health certificates for international travel, allowing for additional conversations surrounding regional diseases. Having both a DVM and an MPH gives me the knowledge needed for these conversations.”



Heather Douglas, DVM ’06/MBA ’11, owner of Douglas Animal Hospital in Osseo, MN, said she decided to pursue her MBA degree several years after earning her license so that she could make the most appropriate financial decisions for her practice. Douglas Animal Hospital treats a wide variety of animals from cats and dogs to geckos, snakes, potbellied pigs, and hamsters. She is also heavily involved in community services—both in the states as well as Grenada. Dr. Douglas founded the non-profit veterinary service, GrenVet, which provides free care to animals in Grenada.

Heather Douglas, DVM ’06/MBA ’11, owner of Douglas Animal Hospital in Osseo, MN, said she decided to pursue her MBA degree several years after earning her license so that she could make the most appropriate financial decisions for her practice.

“I was very interested in learning more about business and how that would benefit my practice in the long run,” Dr. Douglas said. “My degree in animal science was a step to becoming a veterinarian, but the MBA was chosen to ensure my practice was successful long-term. A dual degree gives additional ways to expand your knowledge and perspective, which can promote your career.”

A Unique Advantage

Earning a dual degree can give veterinarians a leg up over peers, especially when applying for specialized career positions.

“Soon after I got my MBA, I was hired as a medical director for a 24/7 emergency and general practice veterinary hospital that had 12 doctors and over 30 support staff. I would never have been considered in the running for the medical director position if I didn’t have my MBA,” according to Jennifer Lopez, DVM ’11/MBA ’13.

“The MBA at SGU really helped me understand the financial and marketing management side of the business and how to think strategically,” she added. “For instance: how to afford that laparoscopy equipment that one doctor wanted; how to optimize the surgery schedule; or how can we best utilize our technicians, front desk staff, etc.”

Jennifer Lopez, DVM ’11/MBA ’13, a professional services veterinarian for Antech Diagnostics and Imaging, says her MBA continues to prove useful. She is also a certified compassion fatigue and clinical trauma professional.

Dr. Lopez has since moved on from her position as medical director and today serves as a professional services veterinarian for Antech Diagnostics and Imaging, where her MBA continues to prove useful.

At her job, Dr. Lopez focuses on helping business owners optimize the medical and business aspects of veterinary medicine. She is also a certified compassion fatigue and clinical trauma professional, helping trained veterinarians avoid or prevent compassion fatigue when treating patients.

“What I love most about veterinary medicine is that there are so many opportunities to not just be proponents of animals and their health, but the diversity in how to use our degree,” Dr. Lopez said. “You can be a part of the food industry, policymaking, or an entrepreneur owning a practice or several practices. Adding a second degree will help you to further your career in ways you may not have considered at first.”


“My dual degree was the start of the path that my professional career has taken, and I could not be happier.”


Joseph R. Frame, DVM ’21/MSc ’20 in Wildlife Conservation Medicine, agreed. Dr. Frame, a small animal emergency/critical care service veterinary specialty intern at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital, is currently in advanced training to become a board-certified specialist in emergency and critical care and, like Dr. Lopez, recognizes the positive impact his dual degree has on his career prospects. Eventually, he hopes to be able to teach and train the next generation of veterinarians.

He is passionate about zoo companion species, such as chinchillas, bearded dragons, and birds—all animals that come into the emergency room he works in.

Joseph R. Frame, DVM ’21/MSc ’20 in Wildlife Conservation Medicine is a small animal emergency/critical care service veterinary specialty intern at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital. He is currently in advanced training to become a board-certified specialist in emergency and critical care.

“My master’s degree gives me a unique advantage over other veterinarians because it allowed me to really hone my critical thinking skills,” said Dr. Frame. “I love veterinary medicine because it is very much like solving a puzzle and many times it takes a lot of critical thinking skills. I’m very glad that I pursued a master’s degree because I think I’m a better doctor for it.”

A Word of Advice

Earning a dual degree may not be easy; the curriculums are rigorous and challenging, and students need to be committed if they choose to go this route.

“When considering a dual degree, be clear on your why, and make sure that it aligns with where you see yourself professionally,” according to Adria Rodriguez, DVM ’08/MSc ’10, MS TCVM, ACC, an associate professor of small animal medicine and surgery, and professional development in SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine. “Do it because you want to do it, and be realistic with your time management skills and finances.”

For instance, will students be able to allot the time necessary to pursue both degrees and take care of your well-being while pursuing them?

“The dual degree curriculum is rigorous, and self-care is of utmost importance on your path to success,” Dr. Rodriguez emphasized.

Dr. Rodriguez, who supervises Term 5 SVM students in the Junior Surgery and Anesthesia Laboratory, said obtaining her MSc expanded her knowledge in research methods, statistics, and other fields, greatly helping her in her role as an educator, clinician, and researcher.

“My dual degree was the start of the path that my professional career has taken, and I could not be happier,” she said.

Echoed Dr. Frame: “It is a long road, and there will be some bumps along the way. If a dual degree is something you really want to do, pick yourself up and keep going. I missed several family events while in veterinary training, but it was all worth it after working with a real patient for the first time.”



– Ronke Idowu Reeves and Laurie Chartorynsky


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The Scoop on SGU Student Organizations: Why You Should Get Involved

Are you involved in one of St. George’s University’s many active student organizations?

There are nearly 80 clubs to choose from, and the organizations offer students a great way to make friends, feel a greater sense of community, and connect to others with shared passions. With each having a unique mission and regular activities, the clubs present ample opportunities to get involved on campus by joining groups centered on different areas of student life.

“There’s a lot of value in getting involved in student organizations,” said Claire Purcell, director of university campus life at SGU. “They’re a great source of support as students progress through their degree programs, not only for professional development but also to help them adjust to campus life and thrive during their time here. There’s an organization for every interest, and if there isn’t, students can create a new one!”


A few of the organizations SGU has available for students to join include the Business Students Association, the Student Chapter of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, the American Medical Student Association, Women in Medicine, Pride and Equality, the Nursing Student Association, and multiple cultural organizations to name a few.

Recently, several new organizations established themselves across campus, joining the already diverse list of club offerings. SGU News spoke with four of them to find out more.

The Creative Arts Society (CAS)

Mission statement: To advance the extrinsic, intrinsic, and artistic evolution of all members through the production and presentation of art, and the arrangement of interactive art-related events and activities.

Number of current members: 85

Open to: All SGU students

How to join: CAS Membership Form.

Upcoming events/announcements:

  • February: Talent show in collaboration with the Exotic Wildlife Society’s Avian Club
  • March: Music concert
  • April: World Art Day Exhibition in partnership with the International Student’s Office.

Contact: or @cas_sgu on Instagram.

St. George’s University: If you had to describe your organization in three words, what would they be?

CAS: Creative, connected, and community.

SGU: Why did you create this organization?

CAS: It is possible to excel in both artistic and academic pursuits, and students should feel empowered to follow all their passions. This is the ideology that CAS was built upon.

SGU: What are your goals for 2023?

CAS: This year, we hope to expand our social outreach, grow in popularity within SGU and the Grenadian community, promote nationwide interest in the Creative Arts Sector, and continue providing a platform for our members to nurture their artistry and master their respective crafts.

Wellness Aid and Guidance (WAG)

Mission statement: The mission of WAG is to provide financial support for animals that are in need of advanced medical treatment and don’t fit the SNP/AAARF selection criteria.

Number of current members: 70

Open to: All Foundation to Veterinary Medicine (FTV), SVM, and SOM students

How to join: Reach out to

Upcoming events/announcements:

  • Tie-die event: Saturday, March 25, 2-4 pm on the playing field (pre-purchase a white T-shirt from WAG or bring your own article to use)
  • Creation of SOM WAG representative: The position is open to any SOM student

SGU: If you had to describe your organization in three words, what would they be?

WAG: WAG stands for Wellness Aid and Guidance, three words that sum up the organization pretty neatly. We are dedicated to finding animals in urgent medical need, providing financial aid for these animals to receive treatment, and educating the public on practical animal care they can achieve at home.

SGU: Do you have a fun fact related to your mission that you’d like to share?

WAG: One fact about WAG is that we don’t only help unowned animals; we also provide financial support for locally owned animals who need advanced medical treatment. This has allowed us to widen the scope of animals and people we can help.

SGU: What are your goals for 2023?

WAG: Since we are now an official organization, we hope to have a more significant impact this semester. We are looking forward to helping more animals and people.

A primary goal this semester is to increase our presence school-wide. This is an excellent time to remind students that WAG (and our animals available for foster or adoption) is open to all FTV, SVM, and SOM students! And hey, we would love to see some professors at our events too.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

Mission statement: Foster an understanding and awareness of the multitude of complementary and alternative medical practices. The club hopes to allow students an outlet to critically review and discuss new research and to develop these abilities into clinically relevant and valuable skills. The club will allow students to interact with peers and lead discussions about CAM practices. This knowledge will enable future physicians to apply skills in a clinical setting.

Number of current members: 30

Open to: All SGU students

How to join: Reach out to @sgu_CAM on Instagram or email

Upcoming events/announcements: CAM plans to have at least one event every month this term! They’ll host activities like yoga and have speakers from all different areas of alternative medicine speak to students. These events will be open to everyone.

SGU: If you had to describe your organization in three words, what would they be?

CAM: Inclusive, distinct, and devoted

SGU: Do you have a fun fact related to your mission that you’d like to share?

CAM: A fun fact is that almost everyone has either taken part in or knows of an alternative therapy that falls under the scope of CAM! Some of the most common are yoga, chiropractic, and acupuncture.

SGU: What are your goals for 2023?

CAM: Our goals are to choose a charity that aligns with our mission statement to give back to and educate students about what alternative medicine entails, how it can complement our practice as MDs, and how we can use it to benefit our health and wellness.

Nutrition Medicine Club (NMC)

Mission statement: To provide opportunities for students to learn about the role of nutrition science in medicine and participate in tasty, nutrition-oriented events. NMC strives to provide an open forum to discuss current nutrition research and practices, host guest lecturers by nutrition experts, hold compelling workshops, and exciting social events aimed at increasing our knowledge of the practical application of nutrition medicine while having an enjoyable time. By building on our nutritional insight, NMC members will be able to use their unique skills in their patient care and employ nutrition medicine, an increasingly critical part of patients’ treatment plans.

Number of current members: 104

Open to: All SGU students

How to join: Follow our Instagram @nmcsgu, join our WhatsApp chat, or email us at

Upcoming events/announcements:

  • February 20: “Welcome to the Island” workshop, focused on cooking for yourself on the island and introducing students to the food options available.
  • February TBD: Raffle for a chance to win a wide variety of gift cards to local businesses. Raffle proceeds will be donated to Grenada Community Fridge.
  • April TBD: Nutrition Jeopardy night. Proceeds will be donated to food pantries in Ukraine.

SGU: If you had to describe your organization in three words, what would they be?

NMC: Innovative, welcoming, and rewarding

SGU: Do you have a fun fact related to your mission that you’d like to share?

NMC: An unhealthy diet contributes to approximately 678,000 deaths each year in the United States.

SGU: What are your goals for 2023?

NMC: For 2023, we’re striving to grow our NMC community by severalfold, expand our presence on campus and in the outside community, collaborate with other campus organizations, raise $1000 XCD for various charitable causes, and as always, spread nutrition knowledge through social and educational events for the SGU community.

—Sarah Stoss


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Back to School: What’s new on the True Blue Campus


Welcome back! For many students, this is either their first time on St. George’s University’s iconic True Blue campus or their first time being back in Grenada since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a rundown of the new and exciting places they get to explore upon their return.

“There is nothing like experiencing a vibrant St. George’s University campus with all our students, faculty, and staff back together,” said Dr. Glen Jacobs, provost at SGU. “We’re excited to share these improvements with our campus community. This term, our students on the True Blue campus will have full access to the facilities that make SGU such an outstanding place to receive a world-class education.”

Over the past 22 months, several expansion and redevelopment projects have been completed at SGU in preparation for the return of its growing campus community. This includes the opening of the Eric Gairy Pavilion, where up to 282 students can convene for outdoor study, and the Beachfront Pavilion, which has a capacity for 324 students to conduct group study. Students on campus now have 52 percent more individual study spaces to choose from, following renovations with new carrels in Founders Library, Lower Modica Hall, Lower Taylor Hall, St. David’s Hall, St. Andrew’s Hall, and St. John’s Hall. SGU also recently updated its existing 56 clinical skills rooms with the newest technology—adding another 28 rooms and a new control center.

The goal of all these expansion and redevelopment efforts is to enhance campus life and the student experience. Additional enhancements students, faculty, and staff will be able to enjoy on campus starting this term include:

  • New SVM Faculty Building: The latest SVM building features 34 brand new offices, a conference room, a reception area, and a small kitchenette. It was completed earlier this month and faculty have already started moving into their new digs.
  • Marion Hall Renovation: The project included a massive expansion and upgrade of all research spaces. A highlight of the project is the student lab, which has now more than doubled in size and was completely renovated to include new furniture, fixtures, and a state-of-the-art AV system. Scheduled to be completed by August 2022.
  • SimLab Renovation: Not just a renovation but also a relocation—the SOM SimLab has moved from Westerhall to the 2nd floor of St. George’s Hall. For this renovation, 22 hospital simulation rooms were constructed, each featuring an administrator room, state-of-the-art training equipment, and fully outfitted with new furniture and fixtures as well as training mannequins. The entire floor will have a new AV system, touch-screen InFocus monitor, and a dedicated control room on the same floor for the lead administrator to monitor all rooms simultaneously. Scheduled to be completed by September 2022.
  • Happy’s Café: Located on lower campus, opposite of the Maintenance Department, the new café is poised to become the campus’ newest ‘instagrammable’ hot spot. Scheduled to be completed in early September 2022.


Image 1: New SVM faculty building (front entrance); Image 2: New SVM faculty building (back entrance); Image 3: Marion Hall renovation; Image 4: Clinical Skills training room; Image 5: Happy’s Cafe


Since its inception 45 years ago, the University has erected more than 65 beautifully designed, functional buildings along the True Blue peninsula under the guidance of visionary architect Andrew Belford, SGU’s first director of admissions. Drawing inspiration from this past work, SGU continues to enhance its picturesque campus filled with striking neo-Cape Colonial buildings—with many contemporary advancements, making it an ideal place to learn and live.

“We can’t wait for the SGU community to experience the enhancements we’ve made to an already stunning campus,” said Christina Verderosa, SGU’s director of operations. “These various expansions and renovations will no doubt contribute to students’ academic success as well as an amazing campus experience for all.”

– Ray-Donna Peters

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From the Office of the Dean of Students: Check in with Dean Lucy Clunes

Passionate about providing students with the support they need to succeed and thrive while at St. George’s University, the Office of the Dean of Students is constantly working to ensure an enhanced student experience each term.

“Our mission is to create a dynamic and inclusive campus community that supports students’ personal, social, and academic growth,” said Dr. Lucy Clunes, dean of students. “Our goal is to provide each student with a strong infrastructure that buoys their success.”

One of the major ways they provide this support is by acting as a liaison between students and other departments, including facilities, IT, housing, and academic departments. DOS also stays current with the student body and their needs by meeting regularly with the Student Government Association and overseeing all student organizations to ensure students get the most out of their university life experience.

SGU News sat down with Dr. Clunes to find out what’s new on campus to help students (regardless of their program) acclimate back to campus, and her advice for how all students can make the most of their experience in Grenada.

St. George’s University: This term, most of the student body is returning to in-person learning for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. How has your office prepared for this return and what are you most excited to share about the plans?

Dr. Clunes: We are thrilled to welcome students back to in-person learning and campus life. We understand that this is the first time some students have traveled since the beginning of the pandemic and that there are anxieties associated with this. DOS provided orientation sessions for all students this term (not just incoming Term 1 students) so that everyone had all the information that they needed for a safe and successful return to Grenada and campus.

We are most excited about the return of both on-campus and off-campus student events such as local health fairs, the School of Medicine College Olympics, and intermural sports. We are also looking forward to seeing students socialize and make those lifelong friendships with their peers that are so important to help support them through their academic journey.

Get in touch! 


For SVM students, email:

SGU: There are some very exciting new campus developments, including the new Global Student Lounge. What is the significance of this new area?  

Dr. Clunes: The Global Student Lounge contains the Offices of the International Student Services, Accommodation and Accessibility Services, Immigration Services, and the Student Government Association office.

It is a space that has many different functions and is there to support all our students. In the past, the International Student Services supported primarily our students that were non-US, non-Canadian, and non-Grenadian; however, we are aware that many of our students have immigration or other concerns that can be supported by this office. We are always looking for ways to expand our support throughout the entire student population.

SGU: What else is new in the Office of the DOS that those on campus, and/or online, can look forward to?

Dr. Clunes: We have a few new things I would like to point out.

  • The School of Medicine now has an Office of Career Guidance located in the library on campus that is here to support and guide students from the beginning of their medical school journey through officially becoming a physician. We encourage SOM students to reach out and speak with one of our OCG advisors so that they can optimize their path to a successful residency.
  • We also encourage all our SOM students to watch out for announcements on the new College Cup Competition that is being launched this semester!
  • For our SVM students, we have a new email address,, so that all queries and concerns can be answered as quickly as possible.
  • Another exciting addition, I would like to welcome Dr. Ayesha Sultana to my office as assistant dean of students for the School of Medicine and Ms. Mercedes Velazquez de Zerpa as assistant dean of students for the School of Veterinary Medicine. SOM and SVM will now have two assistant deans, and the new appointees will join the existing assistant deans in strengthening the support of students in their respective schools.
  • We’re also incorporating as many virtual student organization events as possible and are excited to have those choosing an online or hybrid learning environment from SAS, and all students who are on campus, participate.

SGU: How can students make the most of their time in Grenada?

Dr. Clunes: For some students, the adjustment to campus life and Grenada can be challenging but I encourage all to try to utilize as many of the support services on campus as possible. We are here to not only ensure academic success but to make your time in Grenada memorable and enjoyable. We have many student organizations that provide the opportunity to get involved with community projects and allow you to see different parts of the island. Your time in Grenada will pass quickly so make sure that you experience all that it has to give.

SGU: What’s the best way for students to get in contact with the Office of the DOS?

Dr. Clunes: Students are encouraged to drop into the physical office on campus whenever they need as well as utilize our emails: DOS@SGU.EDU and Students, of course, can also email any of my team, including me, individually and can be assured of a timely response.

—Sarah Stoss


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