St. George’s University’s Office of Alumni Affairs and School of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Association (SVMAA) recently relaunched a networking initiative designed to give SVM students on campus a fresh perspective on what it is like to work in the field of animal care and to create connections between students and SVM graduates.
Renamed “Pizza, Pets and Vets,” the lunchtime talk series was kicked off on September 13. More than two dozen aspiring veterinarians gathered at Charter Hall Lab to listen to Kimberly Ferizolli, DVM ’14, medical director and lead veterinarian at Central Florida Community Pet Clinic. She shared her experiences as a veterinarian and co-founder of the nonprofit organization that offers high-volume, high-quality spay and neuters, mainly to feline patients. Her comments were followed by an engaging Q&A period and, of course, a pizza lunch.
“Coming back to the island and talking to the students was a way to pay it forward,” Dr. Ferizolli said. “It’s so great to give back to SGU because that’s where my dream started. I wanted to let students know that no matter how hard school is—it is possible to make your dreams come true and to continue on with your goals.”
“Students can greatly benefit from the wealth of knowledge, experiences, and shared community amongst our more than 2,500 esteemed SVM alumni,” said Tara Paterson, DVM ’03, MSc, president of the SVMAA and associate professor of Small Animal Medicine & Surgery at SGU. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to bring together our alumni community with our current students, creating connections and fostering a spirit of learning that lasts a lifetime.”
Alexandra Prince, a Term 4 student and current SVM president within SGU’s Student Government Association, attended Dr. Ferizolli’s talk, noting that the session was very informative.
“It was genuinely really amazing,” Ms. Prince said. “I think we as students are looking for those networking opportunities.”
Ms. Prince is interested in veterinary medicine that specializes in exotic and aquatic animals, as well as surgery and feline medicine. “I want to meet as many veterinarians who specialize in these areas as possible to get a good idea of what each field actually looks like in practice,” she said.
Student networking and mentorship opportunities
“Pizza, Pets and Vets” is just one of the ways that the Office of Alumni Affairs and SVMAA plan to increase engagement between SVM students and alumni.
In addition, Ms. Prince has been named the SVM student-alumni representative. Having Ms. Prince in this position will further encourage connections and networking among the two groups as she shares how alumni can help make students’ SGU experience more valuable, SVMAA said. Ms. Prince said she hopes to connect students with alumni based on their area of veterinary interest or geographic location as part of her role.
Students on campus will also have opportunity to connect with SVM alumni attending the upcoming VetBolus conference, taking place in Grenada November 2 to 4. During the “Alumni Student Night,” students will be able to speak with several SVM graduates in a speed-dating type of environment.
“The immediate goal of Alumni Affairs is to improve alumni engagement across all our support areas, which include connections with prospective students, current students (future alumni), and other alumni,” said Dr. Brendon La Grenade, SGU’s vice provost for Institutional Advancement. “This will be done through selective programming, driven by alumni interest, like ‘Pizza, Pets and Vets.’ We encourage all SVM alumni to follow your newsletter and SGU social media, stay in touch with SVMAA current events, and share your ideas with us.”
SVM alumni interested in sharing their professional experiences during a “Pizza, Pets and Vets” lunchtime talk (in person or virtually) should email email@example.com or contact SVMAA President Dr. Tara Paterson.
— Tonya Duncan and Laurie Chartorynsky