“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” George Bernard Shaw
Current events remind us about the importance of values, character, and our personal responsibility in a diverse and democratic society. This week we honor those values as we welcome the school’s 70th class of veterinary students. To celebrate the occasion we provide each new student with a white laboratory coat during an induction ceremony in front of their classmates, faculty, staff, and loved ones. The “white coat” is a reminder to the incoming class that they have entered a profession with time honored standards and obligations to their patients and society. Our veterinary clients and the public often view the white coat as a symbol of a compassionate healer with unique expertise acquired through the passionate pursuit of specialized knowledge and skills. Importantly, the white coat symbolizes a standard of professionalism and a reminder of the trust that must be earned from the clients, patients, and the public we serve.
Each of our new students worked extremely hard to pursue their dream of becoming a veterinarian. Our new class, like so many before them, comes to us with their own histories, talents, and dreams. As we teach them they will influence our lives and embellish the legacy of our school. We have admitted an amazing group of students with a variety of life experiences. The Class of 2021 includes athletes, a pilot, a tennis instructor, a black belt in mixed martial arts, Eagle and Girl Scouts, dancers of various styles from Irish dancing to ballet, a kickboxer, gymnasts, artists, competitive equestrians, a motocross rider, at least eleven scuba divers, three surfers, a white water rafter, three skydivers, a figure skater, and a number of outdoor enthusiasts. The class brings with them impressive musical talent and includes a professional trumpeter, three pianists, a cellist, a Taiko drummer, guitar players, violinists, a clarinetist, ukulele players, and at least five chorale singers and a songwriter. The new class includes a set of sisters and two triplets (not related!). As expected, our new students bring a variety of capabilities with animals ranging from training dolphins to helping injured raptors regain the ability to fly. Many class members have had international experiences which will blend well with our training opportunities around the world in veterinary medicine and one health.
Our new students will find that we promote transdisciplinary teams to investigate and identify solutions to the world’s most complex challenges. Our faculty and staff are world class in their fields and include exceptional teachers, clinicians, and scientists, who relish the chance to teach the next generation of veterinarians. We will encourage our students to be part of our vision to lead veterinary medicine and address societal needs. In providing them outstanding academic support and teaching them critical thinking and clinical skills, we must also encourage them to create a life for themselves by following a rewarding pathway for their professional and personal lives. I encourage all of us to share our stories with them, embracing them as our students today, and our colleagues of tomorrow.
Michael D. Lairmore
Dean and Distinguished Professor