Meet the School of Veterinary Medicine 2023 Commencement Speaker

The 2023 commencement speaker for the St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine commencement on June 4 is Brittney Kilgore, DVM. Dr. Kilgore is an SGU SVM alumna and a veterinarian at Lifeline Animal Project in her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to her work as a veterinarian, Dr. Kilgore is actively engaged on social media, bringing awareness to special cases and alternative therapies in veterinary medicine.

SGU News sat down with Dr. Kilgore to ask her a few questions about life as a veterinarian and her advice for future SGU graduates.

St. George’s University: What is your ultimate career goal?

Dr. Kilgore: To open a feline-only clinic emphasizing integrative approaches to medicine and therapies.

SGU: Do you plan to incorporate your social media influence into your career? If so, how and what do you think about the potential of social media for other veterinarians?

Dr. Kilgore: I currently try to show special cases and bring awareness to alternative therapies. I’m huge on education, so I like expanding other people’s knowledge on the options for animals, whether as pets and owners or even just participating in veterinary medicine in unique ways such as podcasts, pop-up events, etc. Social media growth requires dedication, but many out there love to see what their pet’s veterinarian is like and what makes them stand out.

SGU: Is there a standout memory/moment from SGU that you feel exemplifies your experience?

Dr. Kilgore: This is a hard one, as so many memories exemplify my time at SGU. I’d say giving tours as an ambassador. From giving tours of the school and answering questions about SGU to making vlogs around the island to show what all Grenada was about outside of SGU was one of my most impactful memories. SGU was an amazing experience to receive my DVM degree, and living in Grenada played a huge role in that experience as well.

SGU: Do you have advice for prospective/entering students?

Dr. Kilgore: I always tell people to keep their heads up. It’s a long journey and not easy, but it’s so rewarding when you can finally say and do the things you’ve always dreamed of. Keep that dream alive and front and center at all times.

SGU: What would it be if you had to leave your graduating class with only one message?

Dr. Kilgore: Always remember to experience life outside of this career, as we did as students on our island home. We will dedicate so much to this profession throughout the years, but we must find time to discover ourselves and live life to the fullest.

—Madeleine Otto


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37 SVM Students Secure Competitive Internship and Residency Positions through 2023 VIRMP Match

Vet small animal clinic with cat

Relief and excitement echoed across St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine as 37 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. This rate compares favorably to the 53.2 percent match rate for all schools—including those in the US—according to data released by the VIRMP, a program sponsored by the American Association of Veterinary Clinicians (AAVC).

Beginning in June, the veterinarians will begin their specialized training in areas such as small animal internal medicine, emergency and critical care, surgery, cardiology, neurology, and diagnostic imaging.

These positions are situated at prestigious institutions, including Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, and others within the SVM’s network of clinical affiliates as well as hospitals across the US and Canada.

“While veterinary school is challenging on all levels as students strive to earn their DVM, the effects of the pandemic over the last few years added another layer of challenges to these students, and we are so proud of their ability to shine even in the face of adversity,” said Dr. Neil Olson, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine. “Matching in the VIRMP is a true testament to their dedication to the veterinary profession and the care of animals. I have no doubt they will continue to learn and grow as professionals and I wish them the best of luck in their postgraduate training.”

Students shared their reactions to learning they matched and their advice for future veterinarians.

Ida Yate-Lavery, DVM ' 23, matched in the VIRMP

Ida Yates-Lavery, DVM ’23
Hometown: Renfrew, Ontario
Matched: Cornell University
Specialty: Small animal internal medicine rotating internship

Match Day reaction: I am so excited and honored to have matched to my top choice internship.

Career plans: I plan on applying to small animal internal medicine residencies next year. This internship will give me valuable experience in small animal internal medicine that will prepare me for a residency.

Advice for students: Don’t stress too much about the process.

Matthew Pickens, DVM '23, matched in the 2023 VIRMP.

Matthew Pickens, MSc, DVM ’23
Hometown: Milwaukee, WI

University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine
Specialty: Small animal rotating internship

Match Day reaction: Excited and relieved that I get to continue working with amazing clinicians at the University of Tennessee.

Career plans: I would like to specialize in zoo medicine. After I complete the small animal rotating internship, I plan on applying for a zoo/exotic/aquatic specialty internship. Afterwards, I will apply for a residency in zoo medicine. My overall interests are marine mammal and aquatic medicine and I would like to eventually include research on sea turtle fibro papillomatosis.

Advice for students: The Match is very competitive, especially if the program you are applying to has only one spot available. My advice is to make as many connections as possible. Having simple conversations with people in your field and establishing yourself can take you a long way. Knowing people in the field could help mentor you through the process and help point you in the direction to your next opportunity.

SVM student Shelby Morales, DVM '23, matched in the 2023 VIRMP.

Shelby Morales, DVM ’23
Hometown: Sugarland, TX
Arizona Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Center
Specialty: Small animal rotating internship with emphasis in emergency and critical care

Match Day reaction: It honestly took a minute to set in. I opened it by myself in my room. When it finally hit me, I was so excited and  immediately called those close to me to let them know.

Career plans: I love emergency medicine and plan to pursue a career in it after completing my internship. The internship I selected gives me a lot of exposure to emergency situations and surgery while supervised to add that extra support. The internship gives me the chance to build a stronger foundation of skills and knowledge before I go off on my own as a doctor.

Advice for students: Actively engage in your rotations during clinical year. Build relationships with your doctors and absorb as much from them as you can. Finding support that helps you navigate the process, and potentially writes you a letter of recommendation will help with the anxiety and the ease of the process.

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

Adriana Kalaska, DVM ’23
Hometown: Montreal, Canada
Matched: VCA Canada—Mississauga Oakville Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital
Specialty: Small animal rotating internship

Match Day reaction: I was thrilled and relieved to hear that I had matched at my top ranked hospital. The program is one that I’m excited about, and I will also be much closer to home than I have been for a few years. It was great to finally have an answer on where I would be working for at least the next year.

Career plans: I plan on becoming a board-certified small animal surgeon. This small animal rotating internship is the first step in a multi-step process to accomplish this! Following this year, I will apply for a specialty surgical internship then a residency.

Advice for students: Building relationships with your clinical rotation clinicians is essential. Try to repeat rotations that are specific to your interests so that you can ask for a great reference. The VIRMP standardized letters are heavily clinical skills- and client communication-based, which makes our clinical instructors important for a successful match!

SVM student Devon Cruz-Gordillo matched in the 2023 VIRMP.

Devon Cruz-Gordillo, DVM ’23
Hometown: Miami, FL
Matched: Angell Animal Medical Center—Boston

Specialty: Small animal rotating internship

Match Day reaction: I was honestly shocked. I know Angell is one of the most renowned programs in the country and very competitive so when I learned I was chosen for a spot in their small animal rotating internship program—I was ecstatic!

Career plans: I enjoy practicing specialty medicine and receiving cases that are normally referred for tertiary care and am very interested in emergency and critical care medicine as well as internal medicine. I plan to let my internship year guide me.

At Angell, I’ll be mentored by reputable clinicians in their respective specialty fields and bank that knowledge to be used in my future practice of medicine. I also know that being an intern in this program will make me a great clinician, as it is believed that one year in this program is equivalent to three to five years of general practice. Moreover, this internship allows me to be the primary doctor and make my own treatment decisions. I believe doing this is how I will determine which specialty I want to continue in or to continue onto general practice.

Advice to students: Don’t stop yourself from applying if you think you are not as competitive compared to your classmates. If you really want it, go for it. It is important to know your medicine, perform well in clinics, and show that you have a great attitude no matter what. Doing that will take you far.


– Laurie Chartorynsky



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SVM grad reflects on Ukraine volunteer experience: “By helping people’s pets, we were helping the people”

Andrew Kushnir, DVM ’19, traveled to Ukraine and Poland to provide on-the-ground support for refugees and their pets—who have evacuated from the war-torn area. He shared lessons learned frome the nearly year-long experience.

Last we spoke with Andrew Kushnir, DVM ’19, in March 2022, he was at the Ukrainian-Poland border crossing in Medyka, Poland providing medical assistance to refugees’ pets. What was supposed to be a three-week trip ended with Dr. Kushnir staying for most of last year 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. Dr. Kushnir, who returned to the United States in December, is still processing all that he saw and experienced while overseas but has had some time to reflect.

After some of the most “challenging, terrifying, and beautiful months of my life, I know now that I am forever changed as a result of my time there, and a part of me still hasn’t returned from overseas,” he said.

At the one-year mark of the war, Dr. Kushnir shared his experience, what he learned about himself as a veterinarian and caretaker, and his plans to continue supporting animals—and their owners—most in need.

St. George’s University: How long were you in Ukraine/Poland?

Dr. Kushnir: At the beginning of the war, I worked with IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare), helping refugees cross into Poland with their pets. We functioned out of a blue tent about approximately 100 feet from the official border crossing in a humanitarian village set up to help Ukrainians fleeing destruction. Many of the animals I saw were in rough shape when they crossed, and as a veterinarian, I was responsible for doing everything I could to help them. We knew that by helping people’s pets, we were helping the people. In total, I was at the border for three months, before venturing into Ukraine solo to see where I could help on the ground.

In the fall, I was volunteering at a veterinary hospital in the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa—a beautiful city that typically is vibrant and full of people—but at the time, had lost about half of its one million residents. I had only intended to spend a few weeks there, but shortly into my stay, three African lion cubs were abandoned at the city train station, and I knew I had to get them out. It was another three months in Ukraine and then a month at the Poznan Zoo in Poland, caring for the African lion cubs and a black leopard cub, all rescued from Ukraine.

SGU: What other kinds of animals did you treat? What were some common forms of aid you provided to them?  

Dr. Kushnir: At the border, I saw mostly dogs and cats but occasionally exotic pets like snakes, birds, and even some turtles. The condition these animals arrived in at the border ranged from totally healthy to wounded, emaciated, dehydrated, and stressed. We had a tent set up with various meds sourced from home and the human medical tents at the humanitarian village. We were a lily pad for refugees as they mainly were headed on a path toward somewhere else in Europe.

When I was in Odesa, I saw many species of reptiles, birds, wild owls, raptors, and small mammals; and then, of course, the lion cubs. Toward the end of my time in Ukraine, I was in Kyiv at a rescue center, Wild Animal Rescue Ukraine, for large predators. The day we evacuated to Poland, we anesthetized and loaded up four adult African lions and an Asiatic black bear; the lion and leopard cubs were much easier to get into their crates for transport and didn’t require anesthesia.


SGU: What were some of the hardest things to see while over there?

Dr. Kushnir: After a while, the air raid sirens, the sounds and sights of artillery, and suicide drone attacks sadly become a normal part of daily life. It was startling when the attack was close by, of course, but then you continued on with your day. It’s life in war.

The most heartbreaking moments for me were probably those first couple of months at the Polish border, interacting with folks whose homes were destroyed days prior and who worried about their loved ones now under occupation. My father was a boy when his family fled Ukraine on foot during World War II, and I often saw him in every child who crossed, fleeing another war. I could not help but reflect on how recurring life can be.

SGU: Can you talk about a patient case that affected you? How so?

Dr. Kushnir: I remember it was a cold, wet October night. I had the three two-month-old cubs with me in Kyiv at this point, and most of our days were without power, water, and gas. We had a short window of available electricity, so I quickly boiled some water for their milk formula and went to feed them in their room. Despite having a bit of power available, it was common practice to have all lights turned off at night to make yourself less of a target from Russian suicide drones or aerial surveillance. I was feeding the cubs when I heard a sequence of loud thuds from what felt like right outside the window of the house. Initially, I thought it was from the horses in the stall outside kicking the walls, but then I saw flashes of light through the windows. I was in the vicinity of a combined missile and suicide drone attack that not only could I see, but I could feel. Once I registered what was happening, I remember looking down into the  cubs’ eyes as they suckled unbothered, not knowing what was happening around them, just happy and content that their bellies were filled. Their peace brought me peace. I like to think those cubs saved me as much as I saved them.

“Many of the animals I saw were in rough shape when they crossed, and as a veterinarian, I was responsible for doing everything I could to help them. We knew that by helping people’s pets, we were helping the people.”


SGU: Were there moments of joy?

Dr. Kushnir: It feels strange to admit, but there were many moments of immense joy during my time in Ukraine and Poland, despite the horrific scale of destruction that is still happening. At the border crossing, we helped about 1,800 animals, which means we helped at least that many people worried about their pets.

Performing an orthopedic procedure on a wild owl found by Ukrainian soldiers on the frontlines, and then having those same soldiers release him back to the wild was a huge win. Finally, after months of careful planning and logistics, getting the lion cubs across the Atlantic Ocean and to one of the best sanctuaries in the world was a also monumental win.

SGU: What do you think you learned about yourself as a caretaker while volunteering in Ukraine?

Dr. Kushnir: I have always wanted to work with the most vulnerable animal populations, it’s what I find the most fulfilling and rewarding about this job. I’ve traveled to some very questionably-safe areas of the globe but have rarely ever felt unsafe—you can ask my psychiatrist father what that says about my personality!

SGU: Do you have any missions planned for the near future?

Dr. Kushnir: I’ll be returning to southern Ukraine in a few weeks to help set up a veterinary hospital at the only animal shelter in the city of Kherson; a city that was liberated by Ukraine a few months ago. It should be a quick mission, pending I don’t find anymore lions!

I am also in talks about joining a veterinary mission to Turkey, but we still have much to figure out. The geologic and geopolitical instability in southern Turkey and Syria presents specific challenges that need to be worked out thoroughly before an international mission is planned.

SGU: What is your advice for physicians and veterinarians who want to give back in a similar way? What should they be prepared for based on the lessons you’ve learned from your experiences?

Dr. Kushnir: Working in disaster events and humanitarian crises is not for everyone. You are exposed to some of the darkest elements of the human experience but also to some of the most uplifting as well. Crises happen in the world, whether from human conflict or from natural disasters, and it’s a certain type of medical professional who can function in that environment. Away from diagnostic machines, away from our preferred medicines, away from clean sterile operating tables, we have to work with what we’ve got and be very clever about it.


– Laurie Chartorynsky and Sarah Stoss




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St. George’s University Announces Renewed Admissions Partnership with Springfield College

St. George’s University has renewed its partnership with Springfield College that will grant eligible Springfield students streamlined entry into the St. George’s School of Medicine or School of Veterinary Medicine.

“Since 2014, St. George’s has offered talented Springfield College students the opportunity to pursue a first-rate education and subsequent career in medicine,” said Dr. Richard Liebowitz, vice chancellor of St. George’s University. “We’re thrilled to continue that partnership educating the next generation of doctors and veterinarians so they can return to their communities and help address the critical need for medical and veterinary services nationwide.”

Ashley McNeill, PhD, director of the Springfield College pre-health professions advising, said the College is excited to continue to build partnerships like the one with St. George’s.

“Not only will this provide opportunities for our students to pursue excellent medical and veterinary training, but St. George’s University also offers unique opportunities for our students to continue to live our Humanics mission: educating the whole person in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others” McNeill said. “St. George’s University’s focus on global health and care for underserved populations complements our students’ dedication to creating a better world for all.”

The partnership has established two “4+4” programs in which Springfield College students who complete four years of pre-medical or pre-veterinary coursework and meet all requirements for admission are fast-tracked for admission into four-year programs at the St. George’s School of Medicine or School of Veterinary Medicine. Candidates for the programs must maintain a strong undergraduate GPA and score competitively on relevant entrance exams.


“We’re thrilled to continue a partnership educating the next generation of doctors and veterinarians so they can return to their communities and help address the critical need for medical and veterinary services nationwide.”

Students who wish to take advantage of the combined degree programs must express interest upon applying to Springfield College. Those accepted into the MD program receive a $10,000 scholarship upon matriculating and are eligible for additional scholarships and grants from St. George’s.

Students accepted into the St. George’s School of Medicine may complete their first two years of study in Grenada, or spend their first year at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom and their second year in Grenada. They undertake their final two years of clinical rotations at hospitals affiliated with St. George’s in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Veterinary students complete three years of study in Grenada and their final clinical year at schools affiliated with St. George’s in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

Photos from InVeST 2023: Conference Goers Travel to Grenada to Learn Latest Trends in Veterinary Simulation


More than 120 veterinary experts traveled to St. George’s University’s True Blue campus earlier this month for the 7th International Veterinary Simulation in Teaching (InVeST) Conference, where they spent three days attending interactive sessions on the latest trends in veterinary simulation and teaching best practices.

InVest conference goers, which included veterinarians, InVeST members, representatives from educational institutions, researchers, students, and more than 50 faculty, staff, and alumni from SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine, among others, learned new trends and practices in the specialized field, and had the opportunity to network with peers while earning continuing education credits.

The use of simulation is a rapidly growing and exciting area of teaching practices within veterinary medicine. The educational practice uses technology—including virtual and augmented reality, 3D models, and more—to train veterinary technicians, nurses, and veterinarians on the healthcare needs of small companion animals and farm animals, reducing the need to use live animals.

The conference featured three keynote speakers:

  • Daniel Fletcher, DVM, PhD, faculty member of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, who presented on the topic of immersive simulation in veterinary education;
  • Dave Killpack, BA-BPMI, founder of Illumination Studios, who presented on the topic of building connections across disciplines; and
  • Jenny Moffett, BVetMed, MSc, educationalist and faculty developer at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Health Professions’ Education Centre, who presented on the topic of applications of simulations-based learning.

Additionally, on the final day of the conference, the winners of the best research poster and best oral presentation were announced:

  • Best poster presentation: Dr. Carolyn Kerr, a professor at the University of Guelph, Ontario Veterinary College, for her poster about the “Development of a Bovine Paravertebral Block Model.”
  • Best oral presentation: Dr. Francesca Ivaldi, associate professor in SVM’s Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, for her presentation about the “Development of a Comprehensive Simulated Patient Model for the Physical Examination of the Dog.”

Didn’t attend? Check out our top photos from the InVeST 2023 conference.

  • The view from the third floor of the Andrew J. Belford Centre provided a picturesque backdrop for those attending the InVeST 2023 Conference.

  • More than 120 participants from nine countries attended the conference, which explored the latest techniques and technology within the rapidly growing field of veterinary simulation.

  • Keynote speaker Dr. Daniel Fletcher, a faculty member at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, has been building simulators for veterinary education since 2009 and is the primary developer of Open VetSim, an open-source veterinary simulation platform.

  • Several sponsors were on hand, including Vetiqo, to showcase various simulation devices to conference goers. The models displayed are used in training veterinarians, farmers, and veterinary technicians as well as in experimental animal science.

  • Fabiola Casanova Crespo, SVM Term 5 student, attended InVeST 2023, as part of a group of students representing companies such as Banfield Pet Hospital that sponsored the event.

  • Dr. Francesca Ivaldi accepts her award for Best Oral Presentation.

  • Dr. Carolyn Kerr, a professor at the University of Guelph, Ontario Veterinary College, accepts her award for Best Poster Presentation.

  • Dr. Arend Werners, assistant dean of academics and chair of the SVM planning committee for InVeST 2023, thanked participants for attending the conference, along with fellow committee members, Drs. Annie Corrigan, Firdous Khan, and Heidi Janicke (left to right).


– 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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Photo Diary: Future Veterinarians Take First Steps into Profession at SVM White Coat Ceremony

St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine buzzed with excitement as the newest class of veterinary medical students took to the stage to receive their white coats—signaling the start of their professional journey. The students were cheered by friends and family as they looked on during the SVM White Coat Ceremony, which took place on January 28 in Patrick F. Adams Hall on SGU’s True Blue campus.


During the event, students are cloaked in white lab coats by various members of SGU administration, faculty, family members, or mentors who have become veterinarians before them. Students then affirm an oath of commitment to the veterinary field by agreeing to uphold the principles of veterinary medical ethics and the highest professional standards.

Wondering what it’s like to be coated? Check out the photos from the most recent SVM White Coat Ceremony.

  • Nervousness and excitement abound as students made their way into the hall to await their turn to walk across the stage to receive their white coat.

  • SGU Chancellor Dr. Charles R. Modica, offered a warm welcome to Mr. Alva Browne, Grenada’s permanent secretary with responsibility for agriculture and lands, fisheries, and cooperatives.

  • Master of ceremonies, Dr. Shekinah Morris, DVM/MSc ’20, knew all too well how the incoming class of vet students felt—having sat in those same seats during her own ceremony seven years ago.

  • Dr. Lori Teller, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association and this year’s keynote speaker, congratulated the Class of 2027, predicting more accolades to come—today it was their white coat, tomorrow would be their diploma, followed by a license, and then the world.

  • Sharing the stage with Jessica Meyer, SVM Term 1 student, was her epilepsy alert dog, Magnolia. The pair shared a touching moment as SVM Dean Dr. Neil Olson, stopped to shake Magnolia’s paw before leaving the stage.

  • For Fiona Minear, SVM Term 1 student, one of the hardest parts of pursuing her dream of becoming a vet was moving away from her partner, Dr. Nicholas Krause, an emergency medicine veterinarian in Pennsylvania. Luckily, he was able to make the trip to Grenada and coat Miss Minear on her special day.

  • Unable to hold back tears, Dr. Ron Ridge, hospital director at St. Francis Emergency Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, FL, was proud of his daughter, Amy Ridge, SVM Term 1 student. Having practically raised Amy in a veterinary hospital during his 40-year tenure as a veterinarian, Dr. Ridge felt honored to coat his daughter at this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

  • Although previously a cytotechnologist, Phillip Farber knew he always wanted to be a veterinarian and decided now was the time to make a career change. No stranger to studying internationally, after completing a study abroad program in Japan, the Philadelphia native was eager to move to Grenada to follow his dream.

  • Also, making her dream become a reality was SVM Term 1 student, Noor Mazeh. With the support of her mom who was in the audience today, Miss Mazeh is on her way to becoming the first veterinarian in her family—a fact she is both nervous and excited about.

  • After donning their white coats, the ceremony came to a close with the students and other veterinarians in the hall reciting an oath of commitment to uphold the highest ethical standards and professionalism.


– Ray-Donna Peters

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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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St. George’s University Announces Admissions Partnership with Christian Brothers University

St. George’s University announced a new partnership today that will provide eligible students from Christian Brothers University with streamlined admissions to St. George’s School of Medicine or School of Veterinary Medicine.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Christian Brothers University to educate the next generation of doctors and veterinarians,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, president emeritus of St. George’s University. “Both of these professions are facing shortages that pose a concerning threat to public health. Initiatives like this one will help us close those gaps, and we’re honored to work toward that goal alongside CBU.”

The partnership creates a “4+4” program, in which students spend four years at each institution. Those who wish to qualify must express interest while applying to CBU or while matriculating. Interested students must pursue a Bachelor of Science degree at CBU, complete all prerequisite coursework, maintain a strong GPA, and score competitively on relevant entrance exams. Interested veterinary students must also report at least 500 hours of animal experience alongside a veterinarian or animal-care professional.

St. George’s University will waive application fees for interested students and fast-track CBU applications during the admissions process. Students accepted into the medical program will receive a $10,000 scholarship. They will also be eligible for additional SGU scholarships and grants.

Those who enter the School of Medicine will be eligible to complete their first two years of study in Grenada, or they can complete their first year at Northumbria University in the United Kingdom and second year in Grenada. The following two years of clinical rotations will take place at St. George’s-affiliated hospitals in the United States or United Kingdom. Veterinary students will be eligible to complete three years of study in Grenada and their final clinical year within SGU’s network of 30-plus affiliates located in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

“This partnership with St. George’s University provides a unique opportunity for high-achieving undergraduate students at Christian Brothers University who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine or veterinary medicine,” said Dr. James McGuffee, Dean of the CBU School of Sciences. “We are pleased to partner with St. George’s University as we nurture future graduates who will in turn use their advanced degrees to serve as medical doctors or doctors of veterinary medicine.”


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SVM Recognizes Academic Excellence and Remarkable Service at Fall Term Awards Ceremony

In a celebration of excellence and in honor of the outstanding achievements made by faculty, staff, and students, the School of Veterinary Medicine hosted its bi-annual SVM Awards Ceremony on November 18 in Bourne Lecture Hall. More than 20 sets of awards were presented to faculty and staff who demonstrated remarkable service and commitment to the veterinary medical school and to students who achieved high levels of academic success, professionalism, and displayed an exceptional work ethic.

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


“With this being the first in-person SVM awards ceremony since the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an air of gratitude and joy at being able to gather once again for this special occasion. There was a wonderful energy present throughout the ceremony, and the love and support were palpable.”


In addition to a wide range of traditional awards, student organizations could also participate in nominating and selecting students, faculty, and staff. One of the new awards presented this term, for example, was the Tail WAG Award. The award winner, Dr. Tara Paterson, an associate professor in the Small Animal Medicine and Surgery Department at SGU, was selected by the Wellness Aide and Guidance (WAG) student organization. The award honors a student or faculty member who works hard to further the mission of WAG, by helping the Pothounds of Grenada.

“This award is very special to us because it is our first,” shared Courtney Glotzer, co-founder of WAG. “We want to thank Dr. Paterson because she showed us her true dedication to our more intricate cases and always was there when we needed guidance. She is truly special to our club, and we will always appreciate her because of her motivation and dedication to our Pothounds.”



The ceremony also recognized 32 new inductees into the Alpha Delta Chapter of the Phi Zeta Honor Society—12 from Term 5 and 20 from Term 6. Earlier this month, students, faculty, and alumni gathered to celebrate during a ceremony at the University Club. Phi Zeta is the national veterinary honor society created to recognize students for their superior academic achievement. From its inception, it has been the aim of the organization to stand for constant advancement of the veterinary profession, for higher educational requirements, and for high scholarship.

“With this being the first in-person SVM awards ceremony since the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an air of gratitude and joy at being able to gather once again for this special occasion,” said Dr. Paterson, who also serves as chair of the SVM Awards Committee. “There was a wonderful energy present throughout the ceremony, and the love and support were palpable.”

SGU Island Veterinary Scholars Program (Boehringer Ingelheim) 

Adrian Jones, Jillian Luscinski, Niharika Verma

Outstanding Colleague Awards

Term 1: Cheyenne Koinzan

Term 2: Becca Jenkins, Alexandra Prince

Term 3: Sydney Garcia

Term 4: Sudarshini Coimbatore, Paige Coughlin

Term 5: Molly Gin, Gabrielle Rivera

Term 6: Briana Kinsey

Dean Olson’s Award for Academic Excellence

Paula Ulyak, Alexis Tedesco, Whitley Young, Juana Argiro, Brianne Flanagan, Chelsea Wright, Courtney Duguay, Sarah Hendrickson, Zerina Burovic, Luis Davila, Hannah Wentland, Emily Meade, Brooke Hottois

Adrienne Lotton Memorial Award

Briana Kinsey

Zoetis Revolution Awards of Excellence

Small Animal Internal Medicine: Madison Kucinick

Small Animal Surgery: Daniel Ingram

Equine Medicine and Surgery: Acacia Johnson

Food Animal Medicine and Surgery: Megan Gilmore

Scholarship of Service Award: Cassidy Morales, Courtney Glotzer, Erin Maud

Surgery Team: Sahony Caba Paulino, Melissa Edloff, Nastassia Lini, Sarah Voors, Molly Ginn, Spencer Trinca, Julia Derr, Macey Cropski

Student Research Award: Adrian Jones

**NEW** Dr. Jim Nave Award for Excellence in Clinical Practice

Amanda Rottman Torres

SVM Alumni Scholarship Award 

Brianna Auino-Moreta

Giant Paws Giant Hearts Foundation “Hercules” Award 

Cobi Gilbeau

PAWS Recognition for Term 6 Facilitators

Taylor Nealy, Antonia Nickleberry, Peter Arena, Taryn Paquet, Melissa Ballantyne, Briana Kinsey, Peyton Dillon, Samantha Batchelor, Kira Rasmussen

SCAVMA: Student Chapter of the AVMA

SAVMA Award: Carley Jones, Sloane Hoffman, Ashley Schimshock

Most Outstanding E*Board Member: Fabiola Casanova-Crespo

The Feral Cat Project 

Most Valuable Trapper: Ana Villarreal

Most Valuable Faculty/Staff: Francesca Ivaldi

Veterinary Public Health Committee

One Health One Medicine Community Leader Award: Cassandra Morales

SGUSVM Large Animal Society

Ace of Initiative Award: Ashlyn Dykes

**NEW** IVMC: Integrative Veterinary Medicine Club

Outstanding E-Board Member: Heidi Beck

SVM Wellness Committee

Wellness MVP Award: Eryn Ebinger Christian

**NEW** WAG: Wellness Aide and Guidance

The Tail WAG Award: Dr. Tara Paterson

AAARF: Angels in Armor Animal Rescue Fund

Friends of AAARF Awards: Sara Miner

The Archangel Award: Dr. Thomas Hanson

**NEW** P&E: Pride and Equality

Outstanding Faculty: Dr. Anne Corrigan

Excellence in DEI: Paige Coughlin

SCACVIM: Student Chapter of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Internal Medicine MVP Award: Patrick (JJ) Byrnes

SVECCS: Student Chapter of the Emergency and Critical Care Society

Outstanding 6th Termer Award: Amanda Rottman

SCASV: Student Chapter of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians

Shelter Scholar Award: Victoria Flaherty

Shelter Star Award: Marta Lanza-Perea

SCAVDS: Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Dental Society

Superior Extractor Award: Dr. Francesca Ivaldi

SNP: Spay Neuter Pothound

Pothound Student Hero Award: Brianna Kroning

Pothound Faculty/Staff Hero Award: Quacy Matthew

SCACVP: Student Chapter of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists 

The MVP (Most Valuable Pathologist) Award: Taryn Paquet

EWS: Exotics and Wildlife Society

Avian Flock Leader Award: Alexandra Colella

EWS and VSHS Double Whammy Award: Dr. Sophie Moittie

VSHS: Veterinary Student Herpeteogical Society

The Gallant Gecko Award: Kaylee Freeman

WVLDI: Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative

WVLDI Warrior Award: Bianca Pinto

**NEW** WAVMA: World Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Association

MVP: Most Valuable Porpoise Award: Rayne LeBlanc

SVM Surgery Club

The Sharpest Scalpel Award: Brian Norton

SGA: Student Government Association

SGU SVM Outstanding Faculty Term 1-3: Dr. Mahesh Deokar

SGU SVM Outstanding Faculty Term 4-6: Dr. Talia Guttin

SGA SGU Awards of Excellence Term 1-3: Mr. Keith Miller

SGA SGU Awards of Excellence Term 4-6: Dr. Mercedes Valasquez de Zerpa

George B. Daniel Award: Brie Kinsey

The Pinckney Parasitology Award

Crissy (Janeila) Benjamin and Helena Curbelo

DES Recognition Awards

Emily Shin, Cobi Guilbeau

Diana Stone Public Health award

Janine Wettergren

SGUSVM Outstanding Staff Awards

Technical Staff: Curtis Hopkin

Administrative Staff: Serana Patino

Zoetis Award for Research Excellence

Dr. Arno Werners

Hill’s Golden Apple Teaching Award

Dr. Talia Guttin

Alpha Delta Chapter of the Society of Phi Zeta

Fall 2022 Inductees

Term 5 Inductees: Logan Bernstein, Lauren Dunbar, Amanda Ernst, Anca Gagliardo, Celine Gellineau, Adrian Jones, Maureen Kruhlak, Hannah Lavin-Sauchenco, Selina Nackley, Allison Nickell, Danielle Sackett, Taylor Stanton

Term 6 Inductees: Sean Anderson, Letty Bonilla, Riley Burrows, Yvana Ephraim, Melissa Ferguson, Gabriela Frontanes, Nicole Jennings, Charlene Kriegsman, Madison Kucinick, Brianna Aquino-Moreta, Kassidy Leon, Leandra Margolies, Cassandra Morales, Cristians Rivas Morales, Brittney Nguyen, Kendra Rehnblom, Aleeka Roberts, Sara Schectman, Stephanie Smick, Abigail Wilebski

– Ray-Donna Peters

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