“We need to have a vision of the world we want to create so that we can see ourselves as collaborators with future generations in the project of shaping it.”   David Grinspoon

As each academic year comes to a close, I reflect on how our school has shaped the future of the next generation of veterinarians and scientists that we have mentored, taught, and bonded with during their training with us. In our case, 181 graduates completed DVM studies, a graduate degree, or a residency at UC Davis. I am proud that they have received their education and training from the country’s premier veterinary school, a global leader in veterinary science.

The Class of 2019 is a particularly determined group. For instance, we celebrated Ferrin Peterson, a graduate who pursued a jockeying career while undergoing the rigors of the DVM program. Ferrin would rise at 4:15 a.m. to be on a horse at Golden Gate Fields in San Francisco by 6 a.m., and then head back to school at 7 a.m.

Ferrin won her first race on a steed named Lovely Lioness, which earned her an opportunity to race at Del Mar. In her first race, she took fourth place, riding Chocolate Goddess. She heads out in the world today as a jockey who can double as a track veterinarian.

UC Davis attracts students with that kind of passion—and who, as graduates, make an impact on medicine and the world.

Since the formation of the school in 1948, we have addressed societal needs by working to benefit the health of animals, people, and the environment in California and beyond. Our school, and its alumni, have shaped the field of veterinary medicine, from developing innovative education programs, to discovering mechanisms of diseases of animals and humans.

Our students came to us with a strong desire to gain the knowledge and skills of a great profession, and a passion to apply that learning to change the world. Our graduates now begin this journey with our nation struggling with itself, over issues that threaten the existence of ourselves and the animals we have pledged to protect.

With this backdrop, our students demonstrated their compassion towards each other and their communities, giving me hope for the future. Our graduates have the training and mindset to tackle the complex issues we face.

This year’s class also represents the shifting demographics of the nation. This mosaic of talent and viewpoints will be what defines the future of humankind. Our world is an ever-smaller place as human populations expand and we stretch our natural resources and put more pressure on the other animals that share our ecosystems. By working across disciplines, and with a better understanding of the fragile nature of our planet, our graduates offer hope for the future.

Our veterinary Class of 2019 had to persevere through an unwarranted level of personal tragedy and had to overcome catastrophic injuries, loss of family members, and other adversities. However, they continued to push through and supported each other during their time with us. They established an impressive record of giving back to society, whether helping the homeless with their pets or during last year’s devastating Camp Fire. In doing so they touched many lives of animals and people. We thank them for their contributions. Now they will use their talent and skills to make their communities and the world a better place for all creatures great and small.

Each of our students has a unique story to tell. What I constantly observe and love about them is their strong sense of resolve in the face of challenges that confront them in their work and in their personal lives. At commencement, I asked them to let their courage and compassion carry them forward, and their resiliency and talent guide them as they address the problems of our society. Our students have become our colleagues, but they remain our collective hope for the future.