SGU’s 2013 Class of DVMs Celebrates Another Milestone In Their Careers

In the fall of 2011, the St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine Class of 2013 celebrated in Grenada when word came that the University has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Two years later, they gathered together once again, this time with their family and friends present, at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York City to collectively rejoice once again.

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On Friday, June 14, SGU’s School of Veterinary Medicine conferred Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees to 94 students, bringing its alumni total to more than 850 since its founding in 1999.

“The spirit you have is one of success and perseverance, and this is a spirit you have and are also qualities of the School of Veterinary Medicine,” Chancellor Charles R. Modica said to the 2013 class. “You have an attachment to animals that many may not understand, yet this affinity and love you have for over 10,000 species is admired and respected.”

The ceremony marked the 10-year anniversary of the University’s first SVM graduation, and to commemorate the milestone, charter class members presented Chancellor Modica with an award of appreciation, acknowledging his vision and determination for establishing the School of Veterinary Medicine and developing veterinary medical education at SGU.

In addition to the conferral of degrees, Chancellor Modica presented Dr. Richard Halliwell with a Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Halliwell has served as president of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology (1984-1986), European College of Veterinary Dermatology (1994-1996), World Association for Veterinary Dermatology (2000-2008), and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (2003-2004).

SVM Student Appointed Global Public Health Officer-Elect to SAVMA National Board

Fourth-term St. George’s University veterinary student Ashley Bredenberg has been appointed Global Public Health Officer-Elect for the national Student AVMA (SAVMA) executive board. She is a senior delegate of St. George’s University student chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association (SCAVMA) and the first veterinary student from the School of Veterinary Medicine to be named to the national SAVMA executive board.

Bredenberg was appointed at the 42nd Annual SAVMA Symposium, and assumes responsibility to facilitate and oversee the SAVMA One Health Challenge, for which veterinary schools conduct a themed public health event. This year’s theme is food safety. As a member of the executive board, Bredenberg will provide input into the administration and distribution of funds to all 32 chapters and one associate chapter for the One Health Challenge.

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Ashley expressed that her interest in public health and the desire to make a change in the global community inspired her decision to be a part of the national board.

“It is my hope to broaden awareness of the impact students can make in local communities,” she said. “Global public health starts in the local community. We must make an impact locally before we can make a global impact.”

According to Bredenberg this appointment is also significant for St. George’s University students because, “It gives us a voice, it shows that we care, that we want to be involved, and that we’re here to make a difference whether through veterinary medicine, human medicine, public health, or business.”

Upon completing her Master of Public Health in December 2013, and her DVM in 2015, Bredenberg hopes to integrate both fields by working with the government on public health policies and exploring emergency and critical care in veterinary medicine.

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The Student AVMA (SAVMA) comprises of an executive board along with a House of Delegates (HOD). The HOD includes two representatives from each member chapter. This national organization allows for student chapters to function effectively as a single unit with the sole purpose of coordinating student chapter functions, promoting the exchange of ideas and information among students, and representing various issues concerning members both as students and future veterinarians.

St. George’s University’s State-of-the-Art Facility a Haven for Fresh- and Salt-Water Aquariums

Surrounded by water, Grenada has a deep appreciation for the sea, its inhabitants and the joy it can bring to the community. St. George’s University is doing its part to preserve the livelihood offshore and throughout the region with its state-of-the-art aquatic laboratory and marine center, which supports fresh- and salt-water aquariums and also houses equipment for lab work in microbiology.

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“The aquatic lab opens up all kinds of opportunities for research not just in infectious diseases but in aquaculture,” said Dr. Ross Peterson, an instructor of veterinary microbiology and aquatic animal medicine at SGU. “There is more and more of a push away from catching wild stocks and towards raising fish in a farm setting. Fish are pretty much the only food humans still get mainly by hunting and we are depleting that resource. My hope is that we can work on some of these species that are consumed, especially in the Caribbean.”

Custom-made by Waterline Systems of Prince Edward Island, Canada, the lab is home to tilapia and spiny lobster, the latter a feat made possible by salt water continually being pumped in from the ocean. “Our spiny lobsters are growing very well to the point where they are shedding on a regular basis,” said Dr. Hugh Ferguson, director of SVM’s marine program. “This is very unusual in a laboratory setting. Being able to keep these species inside the lab and not only have them survive but thrive is just wonderful.”

Although it is under the School of Veterinary Medicine, the lab is available for use by the entire University community and it currently facilitates several research projects. Dr. Richard Kabuusu is researching a mysterious die-off of tilapia at a farm in Ecuador with the tilapia at the lab here as his control subjects, Dr. Thomas Eurel is working on an innovative strategy to transplant corals, and Dr. Peterson recently conducted a study on land crabs from around Grenada. Several students are also conducting and assisting in research, and there is an elective where students are taught anesthesia and surgery for fish.

The aquatic lab was also the centerpiece for the first St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine (SGUSVM) Continuing Education (CE) conference, with the theme ‘An Overview of Aquatic Animal Medicine for the Veterinary Practitioner,’ held from February 16-20, 2013. It was the first in a series SGUSVM will host in its bid to attain full CE provider status by mid-2014.

Conference participants involved in fish farming, small animal community practice, and those with an interest in exotic fish all found immense value in the conference. They earned CE credits and certificates of participation. Sessions on veterinary dentistry and surgery are scheduled for later this year.

“It is very important to keep practitioners aware of new programs, medicines and techniques,” added Catherine Wybern, coordinator for the conference. “It was very rewarding to see brilliant minds come together and share.”

Big plans are in store for the lab. Dr. Peterson hopes to soon see zebrafish, which are increasingly used in medical research, bred at the lab, as the tilapia were. He also hopes to see more work done in aquaculture, which can have an impact on food security and the Grenadian economy.

MacLeese, DVM SGU ’10, Enjoying Rare Veterinary Ophthalmology Residency

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Jill MacLeese was certainly not thinking of ophthalmology when she enrolled in veterinary school. However, it did not take long for her to fall in love with the specialty, and her passion for ophthalmology has intensified ever since. Now a three-year resident at the Veterinary Medical Center of Long Island (VMCLI) in New York, Dr. MacLeese could not be happier with the path she has taken.

“The more ophthalmology I was exposed to, the more I loved it,” she said. “Many people tend to become uneasy when faced with ophthalmology cases but I’ve always been fascinated with the field.”

An ophthalmologic case of uveitis, or inflammation to the uvea portion of the eye, during her second year at SGU sparked her interest in the specialty. However, it wasn’t until her clinical year at North Carolina State University that her desire to pursue an ophthalmology residency was solidified. At the 2010 American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology (ACVO) conference opportunity knocked in the form of a chance meeting with Dr. Noelle La Croix, DACVO, an ophthalmologist at VMCLI. Dr. MacLeese was granted a specialty internship in ophthalmology at the practice and in July 2012 began a coveted veterinary ophthalmology residency in a position that VMCLI made exclusively for her.

The position has her working on a variety of ophthalmology cases, predominantly treating small animals, while also examining horses, birds, rabbits and other exotic species. In addition, she works one night per week in emergency medicine and travels to the University of Pennsylvania monthly for ocular histopathology rounds.

“I love it here,” Dr. MacLeese said. “It’s very busy practice; I see approximately 15 to 20 cases a day, so I’m getting a lot of clinical experience.”

Dr. MacLeese has given back to the University by working as a student liaison representative, while also talking about her SGU experience at a number of the University’s information session. She feels strongly about speaking on the University’s behalf as it has laid the foundation for her professional success.

“I have always felt just as prepared as any of my veterinary counterparts from state schools,” Dr. MacLeese said. “I had a wonderful time in Grenada and wouldn’t change my experience there for anything in the world.”

St. George’s University Welcomes First International Veterinary Student Association Exchange Students

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After a ten-day visit to St. George’s University, 10 veterinary students from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, spoke fondly of their hands-on educational experience and the University’s True Blue Campus. The students visited the campus in November as part of the International Veterinary Students Association (IVSA) exchange program.

“While the program structures are somewhat similar, St. George’s provides a unique hands-on experience, on a campus that provides the perfect atmosphere for studying,” said Sisse Giehm-Reese, a sixth-year veterinary student from Copenhagen.

Furthering this observation, fourth- and second-year students Jasmin Bagge and Janne Roscnfeldt-Olesen, also from the University of Copenhagen, noted that classes at St. George’s are smaller than they’re used to, but very interactive.

The exchange students attended lectures, junior surgery labs, and participated in a goat handling lab at Belmont Estate, St. Patrick’s. When not in classes, they explored Grenada with a trip to Gouyave for Fish Friday and visits to some of the most historic and picturesque locations in Grenada.

“Veterinary medicine is becoming increasingly global. With this program and over 50 IVSA chapters, SGU students have an opportunity to gain valuable international experiences,” said Kristina Miller, a fifth-term veterinary student at SGU, and exchange officer for the Grenada chapter of IVSA. “Exchange students visiting here have a unique opportunity to be a part of a University that brings together students from around the world. It is the perfect place for students to gain an international experience.”

The Grenada chapter of the IVSA has participated in the bi-annual congress and symposiums hosted by the organization, but it is its first year participating in the student exchange program. Plans are in place to make the exchange program an annual event with the next proposed exchange with South Africa some time in 2013.

IVSA is a non profit, non-governmental organization operated by veterinary students from around the world, whose aim is to improve the international standard of veterinary education through the exchange of ideas, knowledge and culture.

St. George’s University Grads To Match Wits With Top Business Schools at Boston Regional

For the second consecutive year, a group of St. George’s University graduates will go head to head with the most renowned business schools in the world.

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Gary Chan, MD ’12; Felicia Chee, MD ’06; Sung Shim, MD ’12; Mark Harman, MD ’12; and Jennifer Lopez, DVM ’11, will represent SGU in the prestigious Hult Prize competition, a start-up accelerator that, in conjunction with the Clinton Global Initiative, will award $1 million in start-up funding for a team to launch its sustainable social venture.

“The Hult Competition is an excellent opportunity for our university to participate in a meaningful project for the global community,” remarked Dr. Chan, the team’s leader.

The St. George’s Hult Competition Team will take part in the Boston regional March 1-3. Of nearly 10,000 applicants worldwide, the St. George’s University team was among 350 colleges and universities that were selected for the regional round, joining the likes of Harvard University, Stanford University, and The Wharton School. Regionals will also be held at the fourth other Hult International Business School campuses in San Francisco, London, Dubai, and Shanghai, as well as from Hult’s online competition. The winners from each regional will advance to the Hult Prize (formerly Hult Global Case Challenge) final in New York City for the chance to win a $1 million cash grant to carry out their plan.

“Participating in the Boston regional is a tremendous honor,” said Dr. Harman. “Not only do we have the opportunity to learn new skills and ideas, but we also get to make a concrete impact on the world.”

This year’s St. George’s Hult Competition Team is working to resolve the issue of food security in urban areas in which women and children suffer from malnutrition. It includes studying and researching social entrepreneurship, government, microfinance, community gardens, coops, consumer distribution, and industry infrastructure, among other topics, to devise a hybrid “social business” that can solve the issue.

As doctors and veterinarians, they’re accustomed to coming up with solutions that suit the short- and long-term needs of their patients. Dr. Harman also said that their international medical education allows them tackle global health issues from a unique perspective.

“We have woven each of our unique contributions, along with our medical/veterinarian experiences, into our plan,” he said. “In this way, we have not only come up with solutions that feed residents of slums, but that improve their overall health and ability to contribute to society, as a whole and reduce strain on health systems.”

The team has been advised by Dr. Kristine Kawamura, director of the MBA program, and Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, associate professor and deputy chair of the Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

“Dr. Kawamura has been an excellent mentor by bringing the experience of last year’s team to our meetings, and helping us optimize our preparation time, and Dr. Bidaisee has been an enthusiastic faculty member in our project, and brings a wealth of experience to our group,” Dr. Chan said.

It is the second straight year that St. George’s University has reached the regional round of the competition. In 2012, Team Nathan – Arian Robert, BSc; Nathan Kwablah, MD ’11; Stephanie Nanayakkara, MD ’10; Theodor Gottlieb, MD ’00; and Yon Chong, MPH, MD ’08 – presented at the Boston regional on the topic of global poverty.

4 Countries, 1 Dream: New St. George’s University Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Class Welcomed with theme of One Health, One Medicine

The energy in the Bourne Hall was palpable as the speakers began the 28th School of Veterinary Medicine White Coat Ceremony, which ushered in the entering class of veterinary medicine students to St. George’s University.

Hollie Schramm, DVM, a 2007 alumna of the SVM welcomed the new students and rejoiced in the journey they are beginning. “Study hard, be involved and have fun,” urged Dr. Schramm, now a clinical instructor of production management medicine in the Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. “Grenada is a place that I hold near and dear, and after attending SGU, at which you are assured to gain a top-notch education, I am confident you will cherish this experience and your time on this beautiful island like I do.”

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Dr. Raymond Sis, Dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, also warmly welcomed the students, touching on the life skills they will acquire throughout their course of study: leadership, teamwork, decision making, problem solving, and business acumen. He also had the honor of introducing Dr. René Carlson, a past president of the AVMA and 35-plus-year small animal practitioner, to the dignitaries and the entering class.

In her keynote address, Dr. Carlson began by explaining that she has based her life philosophy on her 84-year-old mother, who just recently married her dance partner.

“Dream your dream, take the steps to get there, and never let anyone tell you that you can’t,” she said. “As you greet this white coat and your inception into veterinary medical practice, a new door opens. You are entering one of the most respected and beloved professions in the world.”

She gave the entering class three major lessons for the years ahead – that veterinarians must work diligently to understand and gain the trust of people as much as animals; that despite their efforts not all animals can be saved; and that they should embrace organized medicine on the local, national, and global levels.

Dr. Carlson went on to encourage students to think beyond pet/companion medicine and of larger-scale health concerns, leaving individuals with endless avenues to make a difference in their communities.

“We have a huge role to play in food production and food security, environmental protection, and prevention and management of zoonotic diseases,” Dr. Carlson said. “These are national and global health concerns and we are fast becoming a very global society. With the astonishing movement of people and animals, both food and companion, around the globe, we all must be aware of One Health, One Medicine. We all must become involved.”

The ceremony ended with the students taking the Oath of Commitment to the profession after being robed by a colleague in the symbolic white coat. And, being veterinary students who are competitive, challenging and extremely connective, it ended with a pictorial presentation of their leadership, trust and team building activities during the Professional Attributes Workshop (PAWS).

Aspiring Rider Turned Horse Vet Relishes Role

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Growing up in Colorado, Dr. Kirsten Traul, DVM ’04, admits she had similar dreams to her fellow horse-crazy classmates, she wanted to be a professional rider. She couldn’t get enough of horses then, and her attitude hasn’t wavered, although she’s in a different albeit rewarding role as the attending veterinarian at Premier Breeding Services, a large equine reproduction facility in southeast Denver, CO.

“It is fascinating to me because no two days are alike,” said Dr. Traul. “Every day has something unusual to it that makes me stretch and grow as a veterinarian. I really enjoy working with horses, particularly with the foals. It’s kind of a mix of being an OB/GYN and an emergency room doctor. It is fun.”

Her affinity for horses started at age eight and she was a competitive rider throughout junior high school and high school. “A woman in the neighborhood who had a horse farm let a bunch of us kids go and ride and play with the babies,” Dr. Traul recalls. “She got me completely hooked on horses.”

Her love of horses evolved into a desire to care for them in the most intense way possible – as a veterinarian. She enrolled at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine to pursue that dream and took advantage of learning from a faculty that was both renowned and diverse. She fully embraced the Grenadian culture and appreciated the knowledge and accessibility of the professors.

“SGU taught me to think through a diagnosis and to ask the right questions,” Dr. Traul said. “The experience was very hands-on and that helped you developed good observation skills.”

“One of the best things about SGU is the fact that it isn’t a US school. It makes you think in a different way, and makes you a better vet.”

Located just outside the SGU campus, the Elisabeth McClellan Small Animal Clinic provides outstanding care to the Grenadian community while also serving as a venue to teach St. George’s University students the clinical skills necessary to be successful in the profession.

Dr. Traul completed her clinical rotations at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine in early January 2004. She was hired by Washington State CVM’s anesthesia department immediately after graduation. In 2006, she and her husband moved to Colorado where she was appointed to the Premier Breeding Services staff. By Dr. Traul’s estimation, the organization breeds upwards of 300 mares a season, delivering 30 to 40, and stands between 15 and 20 stallions. In addition to basic reproduction services, she provides neonatal care, assists in the transfer of embryos and collects semen for shipping and freezing, as well as dealing with colics and other emergencies.

She runs a mobile veterinary service during the fall months; horses breed from January to September. In visits to her clients, Dr. Traul administers vaccinations, performs routine physical examinations, and responds to various emergencies. She is also a certified veterinary acupuncturist.

“One of the best things about SGU is the fact that it isn’t a US school,” Dr. Traul said. “It makes you think in a different way, and makes you a better vet. I enjoyed the experience very much.”

“Sea Grapes” Named Best In Show For SGU Photo Contest

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Hundreds of images were sent in from all over the world, and once again, the fifth annual “Focus: An SGU Perspective” Photo Contest has, in one way or another, captured the spectacular and international flavor of the St. George’s University experience. After the votes were tabulated, “Sea Grapes,” a photo taken by first-term veterinary medical student Lindsay Shephard, was named Best in Show.

Ms. Shephard captured the winning image while waiting to watch the sun set over Grand Anse Beach in August. The girl pictured was using a plastic bucket to catch sea grapes that her mother, higher up in the tree, tossed down to her.

“This picture has such an innocent feel to it,” Ms. Shephard said. “The girl was perfectly content to spend her afternoon with her mom picking sea grapes. It’s a reminder to enjoy the simplicities of life.”

She snapped the photo using her Canon EOS Rebel XS. Days later, Ms. Shephard was officially welcomed into the School of Veterinary Medicine at its White Coat Ceremony at Adams Hall.

All placewinners will be published in the 2013 edition of Mace, the University’s annual literary magazine, which also features stories and poems related to this year’s theme, “Vision.” You can also see them by visiting SGU’s Facebook page.

“From a diverse blend of students, alumni, faculty, and staff comes imagery from all over the world that reflects the SGU family’s unique makeup,” said Margaret A. Lambert, Dean of Enrolment Planning, University Registrar and Director of Communications and Publications. “The beautiful array of discoveries on display in this year’s photo contest demonstrates the full breadth of the SGU experience, whether it’s down the street from the True Blue campus or around the world.”


Categories and submission details for the 2013 Photo Contest will be announced during the Spring 2013 term.

Gonzalo Pou, DVM SGU ’11: Clinic cares for animals at low cost

Gonzalo Pou, DVM SGU ’11, helps provide low-cost veterinary care as a member of the Animal Welfare Society of South Florida, which was featured on WPLG Local 10 in Miami/Fort Lauderdale.