“Follow what you are genuinely passionate about and let that guide you to your destination.” – Diane Sawyer
As we approach the 64th commencement ceremony of our school, it is appropriate to turn our thoughts to the graduates of the Class of 2015. They came to us with a strong desire to gain the knowledge and skills of a great profession, and a passion to advance the health of animals, people, and the environment. They will be graduating from the premier institution of its kind and will be entering a world of great promise and many challenges. From its beginnings, our school has made its mission to advance veterinary medicine, but also to tackle problems faced by our society. We have a rich history of accomplishments that have benefitted both human and animal health. Our school leads the nation in research funding among all veterinary schools and we have one of the largest endowments to help fund our growing scholarship program for our students and enhance the work of our world-class faculty. Our exceptional staff serves as our foundation and through their commitment and good work, demonstrate daily that they are the glue that supports our mission.
The graduating Class of 2015 will now become a part of our history, forever linked to us through memories and stories. They came to us to learn, and taught us in the process. They have deepened the school’s legacy with their unique stories. We admired them as they went beyond the classroom to engage their communities. As they faced the challenges of curricular changes, they found time to create amazing videos, organize events, and serve on the frontlines of epidemics. They traveled throughout California, nationally, and around the world to seek new learning opportunities and sharpen their skills. They challenged us with their questions and their innate curiosity to understand veterinary medicine and learn new life skills. Many found love and married during their four years with us, and a number became new parents! Friendships were formed with staff and faculty that will, in some cases, last a lifetime. Mentors guided them along their way, through academic and life trials.
We grieved and cried with them over the loss of their classmate, Whitney Engler, whose death shocked us to our core and reminded us of our own mortality. From this tragic event, we learned about the character of our community and the power of love and friendship.
Collectively, as we celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2015, we should all remember their passion that led them to us. As they become our colleagues, let us embrace their energy and courage to face the challenges in our society. They showed us their determination to follow their passions in reaching this new milestone in their journey. I ask all of you to use their accomplishments to reignite your passion to educate the next generation of leaders in veterinary medicine, biomedical sciences, and public health.