SVM White Coat Ceremony: Aspiring Veterinarians Take Oath to Enter Profession

When Dr. Marie-Claude Poulin visited Grenada 25 years ago, she marveled at the impressive St. George’s University True Blue campus. She had no idea that years later she would return to coat her daughter Eloise Verret, now a first-term School of Veterinary Medicine student at SGU, during the School of Veterinary Medicine’s recent White Coat Ceremony.

“I’m very happy and proud that my daughter will be following in my footsteps,” said Dr. Poulin, a veterinarian practicing in Quebec, Canada. “Going up on stage to coat her was a very special moment for us. When my husband and I visited the campus all those years ago, we were amazed at what we saw. So, when the time came for her to apply to veterinary school, we knew that SGU would be perfect for her.”

Ms. Verret shared that the experience was also special to her. “I always knew I wanted to be a veterinarian, just like my mom,” she said. “Growing up as the daughter of a vet, I got to see firsthand what the job was like. When I started researching schools to apply to, it was my mom who introduced me to SGU—and I just knew this would be the best place to start my own veterinary medical journey.”



Aspiring veterinarians walked across the stage on August 27 at Patrick F. Adams Hall, where they received white lab coats marking their entry into the veterinary medical profession. Students were coated by various SGU administration, faculty, and sometimes by family members or mentors who have become veterinarians before them. This is the SVM’s 21st White Coat Ceremony and the first to be back in person since the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the Master of Ceremonies Dr. Kerri Nigito to Provost Glen Jacobs, the veterinarians-in-training were urged to rally around each other in the good times and bad. They advised the Class of 2026 that working together would bring them success.

Those sentiments were echoed by Dr. Ruby Perry, dean of veterinary radiology at the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine in her keynote address.

“The support of your family members and friends along with your mentors, faculty, staff, and your classmates will be a valued component of your success and worthy of acknowledgment. So, let’s never forget those who help you along the way,” counseled Dr. Perry, who is also the first female African American board-certified veterinary radiologist in the American College of Veterinary Radiology.



Ashlee Ganpot, BSc ’21, the sole Grenadian Term 1 veterinary medical student felt drawn to the School of Veterinary Medicine while pursuing her undergraduate degree in biology at SGU’s School of Arts and Sciences.

“My faculty advisors at SGU played a major role in my decision to become a veterinarian,” said Ms. Ganpot. “Being exposed to the vet school while completing my undergrad studies is what influenced me to pursue a career in veterinary medicine—and to pursue it at SGU. When I found the vet school, I felt like this is where I belong. I found my place.”

    – Ray-Donna Peters

Related Reading 

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


Related Reading


SGU faculty collaborate on groundbreaking cattle vaccine research

A group of scientists from St. George’s University, Kansas State University, and the Animal Diseases Research Unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture have made a groundbreaking development in vaccine research with a new study conducted on cattle.

Bovine Anaplasmosis, a tick-borne disease, wreaks havoc on the cattle industry every year. It’s historically been treated with antibiotics, but in a new study published in PLOS Pathogens, another solution is presented.

“It’s a very significant pathogen. It causes weight loss, anemia, and even death in cattle which results in billions of economic losses in the cattle industry worldwide, whether it’s beef or dairy,” said Dr. Melinda Wilkerson, professor and chair of pathobiology in the School of Veterinary Medicine at SGU. “This group of researchers basically knocked out a gene that was important for growth so that they could immunize cattle.”

The technique is the first of its kind and has potential implications for treating infections in other animals like dogs, or even humans, who are also impacted by tick-borne diseases.

“The research found that when the cattle were exposed to the field organism through the vaccine, it was able to protect the animals from future exposure,” added Dr. Wilkerson. “That is very significant because any vaccines out now are ineffective. This is the start of a new method.”


“This research paves the way for vaccine development for tick-borne diseases, specifically bovine anaplasmosis. The impact will be incredibly significant, and our team at SGU is proud to have been a part of it.”


The first author of the research, Dr. Paidashe Hove, is supported by SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine through the Postdoctoral Scholars Program (PSP). The program provides financial support and resources to researchers and has resulted in a strong collaboration between SGU and universities like Kansas State.

“The PSP has funded two postdocs in the KSU-SGU collaboration,” said Dr. Roman Ganta, university distinguished professor of KSU’s Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology, a visiting professor at SGU, and senior investigator of this research. “The SGU-funded PSP scientists published three high-quality peer-reviewed scientific publications, while additional manuscripts are in progress.”

While Dr. Hove and Dr. Ganta were the primary and senior investigators of the project, SGU SVM faculty including Dr. Wilkerson; Dr. Bhumika Sharma, assistant professor of pathobiology; and Dr. Andy Alhassan, associate professor of pathobiology—and a previous PSP candidate who worked alongside Dr. Ganta—have established longstanding relationships that contributed to the success of advancing several collaborative research projects, primarily focused on tick-borne diseases.

“This is a clear demonstration that the PSP is an ideal means of expanding the scope of research at SGU,” said Dr. Wilkerson. “Such collaborations also provide visibility to SGU SVM as an institution that is actively engaged in collaborative research on a global scale.”

As for what’s next for the research conducted by Dr. Hove, Dr. Ganta, and the team, Dr. Wilkerson says this is just the beginning.

“This research paves the way for vaccine development for tick-borne diseases, specifically bovine anaplasmosis. The impact will be incredibly significant, and our team at SGU is proud to have been a part of it,” Dr. Wilkerson said.

—Sarah Stoss


Related Reading  

SVM Large Animal Professor Honored with Zoetis Distinguished Teacher Award


School of Veterinary Medicine professor, Stacey Byers, DVM, MS, DACVIM(LA), took a circuitous route to becoming a veterinarian.

Possessing strong math and science skills, she obtained a degree in metallurgical engineering and began working at The Boeing Company. However, soon after volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation hospital she discovered what was missing in her career and applied to veterinary school. It was there she discovered her love for livestock medicine and teaching, and her desire for a career in academia.

Dr. Byers started working at St. George’s University in 2018 and was recently promoted to professor of livestock medicine in SVM’s Large Animal Medicine and Surgery Department. In her role, she lectures mostly to Terms 4, 5, and 6 students on livestock medicine and teaches in large animal laboratories to students in the earlier Terms 1-3 and is co-leader on communication training courses. She also serves as a mentor to junior SVM faculty, along with handling administrative functions for a variety of SVM committees.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Dr. Byers was awarded the Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award during the SVM’s Spring 2022 Term Awards ceremony. Veterinary students from each term submit nominations for the award, with Term 6 students casting the deciding votes.

She shared with SGU News why she loves large animal medicine, what winning the award means to her, and what she hopes to instill in the students she teaches.

St. George’s University: What do you see as your role with your students? And what are the key takeaways you want them to learn?

Dr. Byers: My role is varied with my students. I teach them a variety of livestock topics to prepare them for their clinical rotations and life after veterinary school. I also provide assistance to and mentor students who are looking to specialize in large animal medicine.

The transition to clinical rotations can be intimidating, similar to the “new kid at school” feeling, so I want them to realize that they shouldn’t expect to have all the answers when they graduate and that is okay. Becoming a skilled veterinarian means always being open to learning, especially as new graduates.

Also, being a livestock vet requires a good sense of humor and a lot of patience. Having the ability to laugh at yourself when things get very messy is a definite plus.

SGU: What does winning the Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award mean to you?

Dr. Byers: It was an amazing honor to be both nominated and receive this teaching award. It helps validate what I am trying to do. I teach a topic most students are not as interested in pursuing, so it means so much to have my teaching methods appreciated and to be recognized by our students for trying to be a good teacher and mentor.


“Becoming a skilled veterinarian means always being open to learning, especially as new graduates.”


SGU: Why did you choose livestock medicine? Why this specialty?

Dr. Byers: Shortly after working at Boeing I started volunteering at a wildlife rehabilitation hospital and later a large animal referral hospital. It was during that time I realized how much I loved working with large animals and clients. I soon went back to school to study wildlife biology and then applied to veterinary school. It was there that I found I most enjoyed working outside with the livestock clients. Every day was a new challenge and adventure. I also discovered how much fun teaching was and decided to focus on academia.

SGU: What is the best part of your job and why do you love what you do?  

Dr. Byers: My favorite part of my job is working through cases with students to bring the “real world” into the discussions and teaching. I love when students send me comments about cases that they observe during their breaks or clinical rotations, and how comfortable they feel discussing the case with their instructors and clients.

I also love when students decide they want to be a mixed animal veterinarian working with both small and large animals because they have discovered the fun and adventurous side of working with large animals.

SGU: How do SGUSVM students compare to students you’ve taught at other schools?  

Dr. Byers: Teaching veterinary students has been enlightening, educational, challenging, and even entertaining in some cases. Our students at SGU are definitely on par with students I’ve taught at other schools. All veterinary programs accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association are designed to ensure all students have a good solid foundation in veterinary medicine and SGU is no exception. I’m usually only able to tell a student was from Grenada during the winters in Colorado and Washington, otherwise they blend in with the rest of the students.

SGU: What are you most proud of in your career?  

Dr. Byers: I am extremely proud of my teaching and have tried to do the best I can to help students excel in working with livestock medicine. Even more importantly, I care deeply about my students and want them to succeed regardless of what areas they choose to work in after veterinary school.

I am also proud of the research I did while earning my master’s degree—working on bovine viral diarrhea virus infections in camelids. And later, the research mentoring I did with vet students and interns/residents in helping them develop their research skills.

SGU: Any plans or future projects you’d like to share? 

Dr. Byers: I am working on obtaining an MBA in multisector health management at SGU. This new endeavor has been a bit of a challenge after having such a science focus in my other degrees. However, it’s been interesting learning these various new topics and I look forward to applying some of what I learn to my teaching.

SGU: What are you most looking forward to with the start of the August term? 

Dr. Byers: I am most excited to welcome new students, and those who have been learning online, back to our vibrant campus community. Being able to see students’ faces in person will be wonderful. We also have some new faculty joining us in August and I look forward to hearing about what will be going on in the other programs.


– Ray-Donna Peters


Related Reading  

SVM grad teaches next generation of production medicine veterinarians

Growing up on a dairy farm, Hollie Schramm, DVM ’07, learned early on what it felt like to be a veterinarian and the experience shaped her future career path.

“I was always trying to fix and treat animals on the farm and make them healthy,” Dr. Schramm said.

Since graduating from St. George’s University, Dr. Schramm has served as the herd veterinarian for over 10 years at the Virginia Tech Dairy Teaching and Research Farm. In addition, Dr. Schramm is a clinical assistant professor at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, a role for which she is responsible for assuring the welfare and health of production animals, safety of the food supply, and teaching veterinary students—including SGU clinical students—in the field, classroom, and in hands-on laboratories. She does clinical and didactic teaching, research, and outreach.

She shares what it’s like in her role as a both a teacher and a large animal veterinarian, and what students can expect to learn in their clinical experience at VA/MD.

St. George’s University: What kind of experience can students expect at VA/MD?

Dr. Schramm: In my role, I’m in charge of the overall management of the calves and cows. We do a lot of preventative medicine and reproductive work, working with sick cows, helping with general health and vaccination protocols, and different aspects of hygiene. As a clinical professor, I oversee veterinary students on the production management medicine rotation, where we primarily work with food animals, including beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, camelids, and pigs.

SGU: What do you hope is the biggest takeaway for clinical students?

Dr. Schramm: We want to provide our students with as much hands-on experience, so that they’re ready on the first day of veterinary practice. My motto is really “see one, do one, teach one.” We have a range of clinical skills laboratories, from foot trimming to surgical techniques. I also teach a class called Food Animal Clinical Techniques where the students learn low stress cattle handling, everything from putting on halters to basic injections and beef quality assurance. If you ask the students, they will tell you that they get the most hands-on experience in the production management rotation.


“We want to provide our students with as much hands-on experience, so that they’re ready on the first day of veterinary practice.”


SGU: How much does research play a part of your job?

Dr. Schramm: I do approximately 15 percent research as part of my job responsibilities. Many of the research studies I collaborate on are related to ruminant nutrition, but range from pain management in ruminants to prevention and treatment of mastitis to calf behavior and welfare. We have a few studies related to the pathophysiology of milk production, including how many times we milk the cow per day and whether that has a positive or negative effect on production and what controls this at the cellular level.  These studies are very informative for the dairy industry. We know that it’s important for the future of the world and for sustainable agriculture.


Hollie Schramm, DVM ’07, teaches animal production medicine to clinical students at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

SGU: What drew you to production medicine in the first place?

Dr. Schramm: It’s just in my blood. I grew up on a large farm in Michigan. We had a small dairy herd of about 60 cows, and we also had everything from sheep and goats to hundreds of rabbits. We had all kinds of critters honestly. I was always trying to fix and treat animals on the farm and make them healthy.

I also really enjoyed the management and nutritional sides of animal health, which led me to veterinary school. It has been great doing what I love and making a difference in the field for both the veterinary students as well as the producers. Food animal veterinarians are key in food safety and are important for everybody in America and the world.

SGU: Why did you choose SGU and what was your experience like?

Dr. Schramm: Growing up, I traveled abroad a lot, and honestly, I never applied to any US schools. I just decided I wanted to continue my journey traveling and saw SGU as a great opportunity to learn veterinary medicine on an island.

I had an awesome experience at SGU. I absolutely loved the island. We had wonderful professors, and we all knew them on a personal level, which was very nice. I enjoyed being able to interact with them and ask them questions. They made time for us, which I think is something a little bit different from other universities.

SGU: You’re giving back now as a clinical professor. How can a student be successful during their clinical year?

Dr. Schramm: Believing in yourself is very important. Veterinary students can sometimes be apprehensive about saying or doing the wrong thing, or worried about what someone is going to say to them. But that’s what we as professors are here for—to teach and to answer your questions. I would tell anyone to go into clinics with a great attitude, to communicate well with your clients and colleagues, and to have fun.


— Brett Mauser


Related Reading

From tigers to canines: SVM grad finds her path as a vet oral surgeon

As a board-certified dentist and oral surgeon, Dr. Chanda Miles, DVM ’06, has treated all types of animals for their oral health—including tigers, an Asian small-clawed otter, an American River otter, chimpanzees, a Silverback gorilla, gibbons, opossums, skunks, and chinchillas, not to mention cats and dogs.

Dr. Miles credits St. George’s University for helping her become comfortable with surgical procedures. At SGU, “we were able to perform a large amount and variety of general surgeries that helped me shape my love for surgery and later form my decision to pursue dentistry and oral surgery,” Dr. Miles said.

Earlier this year, Dr. Miles and a colleague co-opened Veterinary Dentistry Specialists in Katy, Texas to answer the high demand for pet oral care in the greater Houston area.

Dr. Miles didn’t set out to be a veterinary dentist at first. While working as a new veterinarian, she was tasked with overseeing several dentistry procedures a day but found herself frequently asking for help from colleagues since she had little dentistry training. She wanted to learn more and decided to attend an intense three-day weekend course to learn “everything that I could about dentistry for animals,” Dr. Miles recalled.

“It was then that I realized I had a passion for dentistry and oral surgery. It was calming and came easy to me,” she said. To refine her skills, she pursued a residency in the specialty at the University of Wisconsin in Madison—and the rest, as they say, was history.

Dr. Miles spoke to SGU News about why she is passionate about dentistry, new technology in the field that improves her patient care, and what advice she would give to new veterinary students just starting out.

St. George’s University: What types of patients do you see and what are some examples of the procedures that you perform?  

Dr. Miles: I work with primarily cats and dogs, but we can treat exotic patients if they are in need.  I love working with large cats such as tigers, leopards, etc.

I treat all kinds of conditions: I perform procedures in periodontics, endodontics (root canals), oral surgery (extractions, jaw fracture repair, surgical resections, prosthodontics (crowns), orthodontics, and oral medicine.

Dr. Miles has performed dental services on animals at the Houston Zoo. Photo published with the approval of the Houston Zoo.

SGU: Why are you passionate about the vet dentistry field?  

Dr. Miles: It gives me instant gratification of accomplishing something good for the patient who benefits remarkably from it. When patients have a healthy, comfortable mouth they can have an excellent quality of life. It isn’t a discipline that is taught readily in vet school so I’m also passionate about teaching it appropriately to general practitioners as well.

SGU: Tell us about your new clinic.  

Dr. Miles: VDS is a stand-alone specialty dentistry and oral surgery practice with a full-time board-certified anesthesiologist. We offer advanced imaging (cone beam CT) and are equipped with modern anesthesia monitoring equipment.

My colleague, Dr. Carlos Rice, opened the first VDS in Mt. Laurel, NJ and then a second one with another colleague in Chadds Ford, PA. Dr. Rice and I decided that opening one in the greater Houston area (where I live) would be a great addition to the VDS family. There is a big demand for dentistry in Houston’s pet population.

SGU: What is the most challenging part of the job? 

Dr. Miles: On a day-to-day basis it’s keeping the flow of the day manageable.  One patient can throw a curve ball in the whole day with unexpected pathology that needs treatment. Because we provide outpatient care, it’s important to treat our patients with completeness, but also make sure they have enough recovery time to be discharged adequately.

My other big challenge that I face at times is treating complicated maxillofacial traumas in young dogs.  These can be very difficult to treat when they have both deciduous and permanent dentition at the same time and are still growing.

SGU: What new technology or procedures have developed to help you do your job?

Dr. Miles: Cone beam CT has been a game changer for me. This is an imaging modality that allows me to render 3D images of my patient’s skull for complete evaluation of maxillofacial trauma. It also gives me precise images for small things such as early endodontic lesions. The imaging is crystal clear and helps me understand the extent of pathology in many facets.

What made you pursue veterinary medicine? 

Dr. Miles: It sounds cliché, but I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian since I was little.  At the minimum I knew I wanted to pursue something in the medical field.

SGU: How has your training at SGU helped you succeed, specifically in your specialized career?

Dr. Miles: Having spent time at two separate universities for my clinical year and residency, I was around many specialists that were teaching students and the SGU professors were far more compassionate in their teaching and encouragement to us.

One of the key takeaways in my training at SGU was surgical preparation. We were able to perform a large amount and variety of general surgeries that helped me shape my love for surgery and later form my decision to pursue dentistry and oral surgery.

Photo published with the approval of the Houston Zoo.

SGU: What was your clinical year like at Kansas State University? What takeaway would you pass on to students?

Dr. Miles: I absolutely loved Kansas State! Every clinician and student was so incredibly nice at this school. I learned so much on each and every rotation.

The biggest takeaway from my clinical year that I would pass on to students would be to participate in every rounds session and conversation that you have. The clinicians want you to be engaged.

SGU: What would you say to an aspiring vet student considering going to SGU? 

Dr. Miles: Do it! It’s an experience of a lifetime and you will get an education like nowhere else in the US!  SGU provided me with so much more than my degree and I loved that the school offered flexible matriculation. I didn’t want to wait another year to apply to vet school.




— Laurie Chartorynsky




Related Reading

·       SGU confers degrees to School of Veterinary Medicine Class of 2022

·       SVM grad helps refugees and pets in need on Ukraine-Poland border

·       SGU veterinarians secure postgraduate training positions in VIRMP match

Celebrating Pride Month: How to be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community

SGU students celebrate Pride Month.

Each year, the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer and/or Questioning, and Asexual and/or Ally, plus) community celebrates its liberation movement throughout the month of June.

Named “Pride Month,” it is a chance for people who identify as LGBTQIA+ and others, such as allies—heterosexual and cisgender people who support equal civil rights, gender equality, and LGBTQIA+ inclusion movements/efforts—to gather and commemorate both the struggle and challenges faced as well as the positive changes made to acknowledge and support this group.

But what does it mean to be an ally to underrepresented groups like the LGBTQIA+ community, and how can we all support these members of the St. George’s University community in our day-to-day lives?

To offer perspective, meet Gabrielle Rivera (she/her), the incoming fall term president of Pride & Equality SGU student club and a Term 5 School of Veterinary Medicine student, shared tips on how we can all become allies to underrepresented groups such as LGBTQIA+ people, and why observances like Pride Month can elevate the importance of diversity and inclusion and create a community of mutual respect and support.

St. George’s University: What does Pride Month mean to you? 

Ms. Rivera: Pride Month means representation for the marginalized LGBTQIA+ community by promoting equal rights and self-affirmation. It allows our community to celebrate, be visible, and stand up for the fundamental right to love. Our ability to celebrate Pride Month would not have been possible without our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans minority groups of color in the 1960s. Their courage to stand up for equal rights paved the way for LGBTQIA+ folks to be included. I am thankful for their determination, and I hope our community can keep taking steps forward so one day we won’t have to “come out” anymore.



SGU: How can students, faculty, and staff in the SGU community be an ally to all? 

Ms. Rivera: Allyship is such a pivotal part of our community, and we encourage our allies to join us as we continue to create a safe space for our community at SGU. Allowing yourself to be an ally helps the LGBTQIA+ community feel safe and seen within your presence.

  • One way to be an ally can include integrating inclusive language in your everyday life. Asking someone their pronouns when you first meet them shows you are open-minded and inclusive.
  • Another great way to be an ally is becoming involved in the events/opportunities for the LGBTQIA+ community by the Pride and Equality club or the other clubs/events on campus.
  • Denouncing anti-LGBTQIA+ comments or jokes during your everyday life helps the fight against the discrimination that is still present. All of your allyship efforts help build up our community as we continue to push for acceptance and understanding.


“Allowing yourself to be an ally helps the LGBTQIA+ community feel safe and seen within your presence.”


SGU: What does it mean to be supportive of all different walks of life? 

Ms. Rivera: When you are supportive of all different walks of life you are open to all people despite their gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, etc. You create a safe space for someone to be their authentic self without judgement.

SGU: How can we create a community of mutual respect and support? 

Ms. Rivera: We create a community of mutual respect and support by the acknowledgment that not everyone is the same. Even though you may not understand someone’s identity or sexual orientation, you still hold mutual respect and support for that person. This will bring togetherness within a community.

SGU: How do observances like Pride Month elevate the importance of diversity and inclusion in healthcare? 

Ms. Rivera: Observances like Pride Month elevate the importance of diversity and inclusion in healthcare by bringing awareness to the essential need for embracement towards all different people no matter their identity or sexual orientation. Having acknowledgements that promote diversity allow healthcare professionals to live their lives freely and with integrity as we give back to our human or animal patients. Creating a more accepting environment for medical workers will only help people feel safe and comfortable in their work environment amongst colleagues.

SGU: How can the SGU community get involved with P&E SGU?

Ms. Rivera: All members of the University are eligible for membership within P&E SGU including faculty, students, and staff. You can join by filling out our form. Also follow us on Instagram @PrideandEqualitySGU and Facebook Pride & Equality SGU.




–Jessica Epps and Laurie Chartorynsky


Related Reading


SGU Confers Degrees to School of Veterinary Medicine Class of 2022

St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine inaugurated a new class of veterinarians at commencement this weekend in Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

“We’re delighted to recognize the achievements of the class of 2022,” said Dr. Neil Olson, dean of the SGU School of Veterinary Medicine. “These new veterinarians have demonstrated perseverance and dedication that will serve them well as they transition into careers in animal healthcare.”

The class of 2022 will enter the workforce at a time when demand for veterinary services is surging. The United States will need up to 41,000 more veterinarians by 2030 to meet the healthcare needs of companion animals alone.

In addition to caring for household pets, the newest graduates of St. George’s School of Veterinary Medicine will take on various roles essential to public health, such as studying how diseases jump from animals to humans and ensuring that our food supply can keep up with demand.

St. George’s offers students an international approach to veterinary medicine. It maintains partnerships with universities in several other countries, including the United States and Canada. Students also have access to a number of unique research opportunities in Grenada.

“The need for highly skilled veterinarians has never been clearer,” Dr. Olson said . “We’re looking forward to watching our newest crop of graduates meet this demand and create positive change in the animal—and human—world.”



Related Reading

SVM Celebrates Excellence at Spring Term Awards Ceremony 

The School of Veterinary Medicine celebrated its Spring 2022 Term Awards on April 23 during a virtual event that included students, faculty, and staff.

Dr. Tara Paterson, SVM awards committee chair, opened the ceremony by remarking on the significance of the night: “Even though we are not all together celebrating in the same room or space, it doesn’t take away from the magnitude of the occasion. We hope that you enjoy spending the next hour with us celebrating your colleagues, your faculty, the staff, and all the wonderful things that contribute to making SGU such an amazing institution.”

Vice Provost of Institutional Advancement Brendan LaGrenade also addressed the virtual crowd. He shared his thoughts on continuing the ceremony virtually, and how it “is a testament to how important these awards are” to showcase students’ and faculty’s achievements. “I also feel compelled to add that you vets know how to make academia interesting and fun,” he added.

Over 20 sets of awards were presented during the event, including the first for SVM’s Surgery Club—the Sharpest Scalpel Award. Also of note was the Award for Outstanding Service to SGU honoring Dr. Rolf Larsen who will retire at the end of this term, and the induction of 26 students into the Alpha Delta Chapter of the Society of Phi Zeta.

“We at the School of Veterinary Medicine are proud to recognize the success and achievements of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Dr. Neil Olson, dean of the SVM, in the final welcoming remarks to kick off the night and begin the presentation of awards.

This semester’s awards are as follows:

Outstanding Colleague Awards 

Term 1 : Stephanie West

Term 2: Andrew Richterkessing

Term 3: Treg Brown

Term 4: Maureen Kruhlak

Term 5: Madison Kucinick

Term 6: Yvonne White

Dean Olson’s Award for Academic Excellence 

Joshua Fornengo, Jennifer Maguire, Emily Schafsteck, Paige Coughlin, Jacob Dempsey, Brenda Ruiz Anaya, Ericah Roncone

Adrienne Lotton Memorial Award 

Sheriden Nicholes

Zoetis Revolution Awards of Excellence

Small Animal Internal Medicine: Ida Yates-Lavery

Small Animal Surgery: Sheriden Nicholes

Equine Medicine and Surgery: Chloe Eaton

Food Animal Medicine and Surgery: Thomas Ramsey

Scholarship of Service: Tyler Epes

Surgery Team: Alexa Cameron, Acacia Johnson, Andrew Yacoub, Stephanie Smick

Student Research Award: Sara Schectman

SVM Alumni Scholarship Award

Madison Whitney

Giant Paws Giant Hearts Foundation “Hercules” Award

Sheriden Nicholes

PAWS Recognition Sixth Term Facilitators

Patrick Donegan, Ireny Barsoum, Brittany Riddick, Parveen Hothi, Michelle Mordukhaev

Feral Cat Project

Most Valuable Trapper: Emily Shin

Most Valuable Faculty/Staff: Dr. Wayne Sylvester

Veterinary Public Health Committee

One Health One Medicine Community Leader Award: Mallory Peak

SGUSVM Large Animal Society

Ace of Initiative Award: Melitsa Iaonnou

Most Valuable E-Board Member: Megan Gilmore

Student Chapter of the Society for Theriogenology

Therio-Hero: Ashley Emmett

Top Dam: Amanda Rottman Torres

AAARF: Angels in Armor Animal Rescue Fund

Friends of AAARF Award: Tyler Epes

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

Internal Medicine MVP Award: Madison Whitney

SVECCS: Student Chapter of the Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Society

Outstanding 6th Termer: Shelby Morales

Outstanding Member: Richard Joyce and Taryn Willamson

SNP: Spay Neuter Pothound

Pothound Faculty/Staff Hero Award: Dr. Marta Lanza Perea

Pothound Student Hero Award: Brooke Bray

SCACVP: Student Chapter of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists

The MVP (Most Valuable Pathologist): Glenna Maur

EWS: Exotics & Wildlife Society

The Tenacious Turtle Award: Rayner LeBlanc

EWS Wildest Faculty Award: Dr. Sophie Moittie

VBMA: Veterinary Business Management Association

Outstanding E-Board Member: Letty Bonilla

Impact Award: Meena Khoram Pierce

AWB: Animal Welfare and Behavior Committee

AWB Excellence Award: Jasmine Simmons

SVM Surgery Club

The Sharpest Scalpel Award: Maricella Medina

 SGA: Student Government Association

SGU SVM Outstanding Faculty Term 1-3: Dr. Hector Zerpa

SGU SVM Outstanding Faculty Term 4-6: Dr. Thomas Hanson

SGA SGU Awards of Excellence Term 1-3: Dr. Peter Slinger

SGA SGU Awards of Excellence Term 4-6: Ms. Elizabeth Peach

George B. Daniel Award: Sheridan Nicholes

The Pinckney Parasitology Award

Logan Bernstein

DES Recognition Awards

Amanda Via, Amanda Rottman, Cobi Guilbeau, Courtney Manly, Kira Rasmussen, Taylor Stanton

Alpha Delta Chapter of the Society of Phi Zeta

Spring 2022 Inductees

Term 5: Caitlyn Coartney, Lauren Fleming, Alexandra Garrett, Stephanie Ho, Samantha Hoover, Acacia Johnson, Jennifer Memleb, Madeline Muntean, Teylor Nealy, Samuel Ruch, Valerie Savino

Term 6: Madeleine Christen, Zachary Collette, Rachel Gray, Ida Yates-Lavery, Jenny Liu, Jenna McCartin, Jacob Moise, Brittany Murray, Jacqueline Nunnelley, Kyle Pinney, Brittany Riddick, Johana Maldonado-Ross, Rachel Uvaydov, Madison Whitney, Marielis Guzman-Sanchez

Faculty Inductees

Veterinary Faculty: Dr. Hector Zerpa and Dr. Mercedes Velazquez de Zerpa

Honorary Faculty: Ms. Janella Edwards

Spring 2022 Phi Zeta Scholarship: Jennifer Memleb

SGUSVM Award for Outstanding Service

Dr. Rolf Larsen

 SGUSVM Outstanding Staff Awards

Technical Staff: Renata Mandbodh-Mitchell

Administrative Staff: Cherry-Ann Lumpriss

Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teacher Award

Dr. Stacey Byers

– Sarah Stoss

Related Reading

SVM grad helps refugees and their pets at Ukraine-Poland border

Andrew Kushnir, DVM ’19, traveled to Poland in late March to provide on-the-ground support for refugees—and their pets—who have evacuated from war-torn Ukraine.

Andrew Kushnir, DVM ’19, felt a greater calling to help those in need. Dr. Kushnir, a graduate of St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine, traveled to Poland in late March to provide on-the-ground support for refugees—and their pets—who have evacuated from war-torn Ukraine.

Dr. Kushnir, a staff veterinarian at San Diego, CA-based Project Wildlife, teamed with nonprofit organization International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAWglobal) to assist shelters, sanctuaries, and zoos as they handle the influx of animals needing care. He shared why he felt the need to contribute to the relief efforts in the region.

St. George’s University: Where are you located and how did you get involved with IFAWglobal?

Dr. Kushnir: I am currently deployed with IFAW at the Ukrainian-Polish border crossing in Medyka, Poland. When the war in Ukraine started, I immediately started reaching out to every organization I could find that was providing support for animals in conflict.

SGU: Was it a difficult decision to make this commitment?

Dr. Kushnir: My father and his family were once refugees fleeing Ukraine during World War II, and I knew that I had to step up in whatever capacity I could to help support people fleeing conflict. We veterinarians don’t just help animals; we also help people through animals.

Being here on the border providing food, water, pet carriers, food bowls, fresh bedding, and warm clothes to pets really makes a huge impact on refugees. Along with getting the peace of mind of a vet looking over their animals, these displaced people have a little bit less to have to worry about as they move onwards to their next destination.

SGU: How will your training as a veterinarian translate to field medicine like this and on people?

Dr. Kushnir: Veterinarians are used to working in scenarios where one has to get creative with the tools available to achieve the most optimal outcome. So triaging stressed, injured, and sick animals out of a tent approximately 100 feet from the border of a war-ravaged country isn’t totally out of the scope of what I and other veterinarians are trained to do.

SGU: How would you describe your emotions now that you’re seeing the strife firsthand?

Dr. Kushnir: Since being here at the refugee camp, I have felt the full kaleidoscope of human emotions. Every moment here, I am surrounded by an endless stream of people seeking shelter and safety from war, who have had to pack their entire lives into a few suitcases and grocery bags. When they reach the refugee camp, volunteers of humanitarian organizations from all over the world greet them with smiles, warm food and drink, and the assurance that they are safe. For many folks, their pet is family and a great comfort at this time so being able to provide veterinary and supportive care to their critters is an exceptionally profound service to offer.

SGU: Have you done any sort of field medicine like this before?

Dr. Kushnir: Working at animal shelters and wildlife centers, I have a lot of experience treating a variety of animals in field conditions, but working in a refugee camp is a first for me.

SGU: What characteristics does a doctor—of any type—need to have to be able to handle field medicine like this?

Dr. Kushnir: There are many qualities I think a veterinarian/doctor needs to have if they want to feel comfortable working in field/disaster relief settings.

  • Being exceptionally resourceful is important because you’ll need to adapt to a potentially ever-changing environment. For example, the tent you’re examining a scared cat inside of suddenly collapses under the weight of pouring rain and strong winds!
  • Being OK with not having the best tools or medicines available but still being able to tackle the problem as best as you can.
  • Knowing that limitations will surely arise, but nevertheless staying positive and focused on getting the job done.

SGU: How has your training at SGU prepared you for this type of front line aid?

Dr. Kushnir: Studying at SGU and living in Grenada definitely helped me build up not just my foundation of knowledge and comfort in a clinical setting, but it also fostered a passion for wanting to work with the most vulnerable animal populations in whatever environment they’re found. The investment is great, and the rewards are greater!




— Laurie Chartorynsky



Related Reading