More than 100 students expressed their commitment to the profession of veterinary medicine at the St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine White Coat Ceremony, held on August 20 at Bourne Lecture Hall on the True Blue campus. The future veterinarians came from near and far, with eight countries represented in the Fall 2013 class, including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Grenada, and as far away as Taiwan.
Dr. Lila Miller, cofounder of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV), and vice president of veterinary outreach at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), delivered the keynote speech, challenging the incoming students to be aware of the role of veterinarians in animal welfare, and the moral and ethical obligations in the field.
“So often animal welfare is not at the forefront of what we’re being taught,” Dr. Miller said. “We have many obligations as veterinarians that we sometimes have to wonder – where does animal welfare fit in? The American Veterinary Medical Association defined veterinarians as ‘the medical authority for health and welfare of animals,’ so it is incumbent upon your class to ensure we get there. You have the advantage at this spectacular University with a melting pot of cultural experiences and knowledge.
“The next few years are going to be exciting and challenging, and I encourage you to approach everything you’re going to learn with an open mind and learn as much as you can about animal welfare,” she added. “See where you can apply those principles in both your professional and personal lives, and be a vocal advocate to help position veterinarians as the leaders in animal welfare.
University Chancellor Dr. Charles Modica urged the students to take advantage of the opportunities at St. George’s University and remember the lifelong experiences they are sure to learn.
“You will meet people of different races, creed, cultures, and beliefs from all over the world,” he said. “If you take the opportunity to get to know them, work and learn with them, and be a part of this community, you will leave here not only with a degree, but some great human understanding that this world needs. If you can get along with everybody on this campus from all the countries represented, you’ve just managed to get along with everyone of this planet. It’s a greater opportunity than you might have envisioned when you chose this University.”
Alumnus and Master of Ceremonies Dr. Brittany King, DVM SGU ’10, encouraged the students to make their experience at St. George’s University their own. “You can do anything you dream, and if you dream it, your faculty and support group at St. George’s University can make it happen.”
Founded in 1999, the AVMA-accredited School of Veterinary Medicine has graduated over 800 veterinarians from 24 countries who have practiced in 47 US states and 10 countries around the world, including Canada, the UK, and South Africa.