The guest speaker was Dr. Fitzgerald, of Emergency Vets fame on Animal Planet. He was one of the nicest and most interesting people I'd ever met. I could have talked to him all night.After the ceremony. Is it really over? Mary and Leigh Ann in front of the fountain:
Mary's commencement speech:
It is a huge privilege for me to give the student address and I’m honored to represent our class! Today marks the culmination of many years of hard work and studying by myself and my classmates. It’s a day that seemed so far away … especially when Dr. Thomspon told us on our first day of orientation that we had 1,375 days till graduation. But we made it!
Even though it was a few years ago when we all were total strangers it seems like yesterday when we all first met at orientation. I remember when we were all given secret envelopes that contained the name of a classmate. Then we were given the task to find the person that matched the name and ask them a bunch of personal questions. At the time I was tired, thought it was a silly idea and that it was going to be the most dreadful task... until some cute cowboy named Weston came up to me and wanted to know all about me! I knew it couldn’t be all that bad!
I speak for all of us when I say "THANK YOU" to all our friends and family. Having your support and understanding was crucial to our success. I know many of you wondered what your loved one was up to... why you didn’t hear from them for months at a time and when you did they sounded beaten down and worn out. I’ll try to recap our 4 years so that you understand.
Freshman year was torture. We walked back and forth from Shands to the VAB in 90 degree weather, shoved lunch down our throats while sitting on the floor and then dissected cadavers for 4 hours. We panicked over grades and thought about how NOT to fail out of vet school. Not to mention that during our first month of school we encountered a hurricane that left many of us without electricity and water for over a week!
Sophomore year was better because the material was more applicable to real life scenarios... and there was no more anatomy! But the course load was brutal. However, we got to perform our first surgeries... granted a spay should not take 4 hours but it was a learning process.
Our junior year was hectic as we made our way through clinics. Some of you may not understand what "Clinics" means. Well, this is when we got to rotate through the different departments in the hospital and work with actual patients. It was personally my most favorite time of vet school. Here are just a few of the things we did in clinics to give you an idea of what we were up to.
On outpatient medicine we gave a puppy its first set of vaccines or gave an old dog with tons of tartar and bad breath a well needed dental.
On cardiology we helped regulate an animal in heart failure.
On dermatology we helped to resolve some of the greasiest, smelliest skin diseases you could imagine.
On surgery we got to have our hands inside an animal and assist in many different operations.
On Oncology we helped give a grieving family a few more precious months with their loved one. And we were there to help say goodbye when the time came.
On emergency we took care of animals that were hit by cars, jumped out of cars, or left in cars.
In large animal medicine, we were up all night with a horse that was foaling, then stayed the whole day after to help the newborn during its first day of life.
On large animal surgery we sifted our way through 70 feet of intestines to find why a horse had colic.
On farms we worked with dairy calves, beef cattle and even some huge pigs.
In wildlife, some of us got to work with giraffes, bears, tigers, bats and river otters.
These are just a few of the things we experienced. Clinics were great... even when you had to pull a 48 hour shift, eat stale chips from the vending machine or steal coffee from the waiting room.
The first half of senior year was spent finalizing our senior research projects and studying for Boards and then we went back to clinics and just began counting down the days till today.
During our 4 years some other cool ‘non vet related’ milestones occurred. There were 8 engagements (well, one engagement was made between two of our classmates so it’s really 9 engagements), 14 marriages, and 4 baby gators born!
We are privileged to be graduating today and becoming veterinarians... so many people dream of becoming vets but only a small portion actually make it. We have achieved our goal, and now are ready to begin another chapter. I am excited for all of our futures and the difference that we will make. I am entirely confident that each of us are prepared for the challenges that lie ahead -- even if we don’t feel like it. This is mostly because of the awesome teachers, clinicians, residents, interns, technicians and support staff that we have been so lucky to work with.
So I come from a pretty large family. All [of you] in the house, can I get a shout out? Well I hate to tell you guys but we now have 82 more family members because I consider all of my classmates extended family members. We’ve been through so much together and I’ll miss all of you. I’ll miss Greg’s hearty laugh and Kelly’s endless questions. I’ll miss watching Maite and Chris’ dance, or watching Lynn put the lawn crew "in check." I’ll miss Allison’s unique baking skills and of course whenever there is an AV issue… hearing that cumulative ‘STEEEVE’ .
I’ve had a great 4 years and am proud to be a part of the class of 2008! Thank you.
Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of livestock resources, the promotion of public health and the advancement of medical knowledge.
I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.
I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.