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Students take the stage during the College of Veterinary Medicine Class of 2019 hooding ceremony.

Veterinary College Class of 2019 celebrates hooding ceremony

After hours of lectures, late nights studying and immersive learning on the farm and in the clinic, the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine Class of 2019 was recognized at the college’s hooding ceremony May 25 in Bailey Hall.

The graduating class comprises 96 students and a diversity of future career goals. The majority of the class, 61%, plan to go into private practice, while 32% will further their training through internships. All the new veterinarians will stay in the United States, with roughly a third remaining in New York state.

Shannon O'Keefe, D.V.M. ’19, receives her ceremonial hood from Lorin Warnick, the Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine, during the College of Veterinary Medicine’s hooding ceremony May 25 in Bailey Hall.

Lorin D. Warnick, D.V.M., Ph.D. ’94, the Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine, congratulated the graduates, as well as the college’s residents and interns, on completing their training.

“I hope each of you has a sense of satisfaction with what you have achieved,” he said. “I’m sure your friends and family in the audience are proud of you – as are all of us at the college.”

Warnick also thanked the graduates’ families and friends. “If your experience was anything like mine,” he said, “your parents and siblings indulged an unusual number of animals and great variety of species in your homes.”

Warnick said members of the Class of 2019 were agents of change, helping to shape the college’s wellness program and sustainability initiatives.

“It is fitting that you have been in the college during a time of change; you now are joining a profession that is also rapidly evolving,” said Warnick. “[W]e face a challenge in keeping service to animals and clients at the core of the profession. But this also provides an opportunity; quality veterinary health care depends on a foundation of excellent clinical skills, but to be most effective it must be surrounded by great communication, organization and practice management.”

Dr. Robert Weiner, president of the New York State Veterinary Medical Society, led the graduating class in the Veterinarian’s Oath. Katherine Edmondson, M.S. ’85, Ph.D. ’89, assistant dean for students and instruction, announced graduates’ names and future plans before Warnick hooded each of them.

Following hooding, Dr. Erin Epperly, assistant clinical professor of diagnostic imaging and recipient of the 2019 Zoetis Distinguished Teaching Award, gave the charge to the Class of 2019. Epperly spoke of her own experiences as a new veterinarian, reminding the graduates that they will face both failures and successes in their careers.

“But one of the best parts about veterinary medicine is that the successes far outnumber the failures,” she said. “I am completely confident about the doctors sitting on the stage before you. I am so proud of you all as people, and as vets.”

Dr. Carolyn McDaniel, senior lecturer and a foundation course leader, presented on behalf of the Faculty Student Awards Committee three awards:

  • The Horace K. White Prize, awarded to the graduate with the highest academic record throughout veterinary training, went to Allison Tuchrello, D.V.M. ’19.
  • The Malcolm E. Miller Award, awarded to a graduating student who demonstrates perseverance and scholastic diligence, went to Bridget Bickers, D.V.M. ’19.
  • The Leonard Pearson Prize, awarded to the student most successfully demonstrating potential for professional and/or academic leadership in veterinary medicine, went to Gilad Fefer, D.V.M. ’19.

The event concluded with a performance from the college’s own a cappella group, Ultrasound.

The graduating class is a diverse one, with many backgrounds and interests. Case in point: Shannon O’Keefe, D.V.M. ’19, a professional singer in New York City prior to enrolling at CVM, used her art to counterbalance the challenges of veterinary school.

“Having an outlet during all that studying was essential for my survival in vet school, and performing was something I could control, something I could feel good about,” O’Keefe said. “It helped remind me that there were things in life other than studying.”

O’Keefe, who plans to work at an emergency and critical care internship in Maryland after graduation, says her time at Cornell was one of challenge and reward.

“I am continually overwhelmed by how much I've learned and how much has changed in the way I think about medicine,” she said. “It isn’t easy, and it isn’t always fun, but it is absolutely worth it.”

Lauren Cahoon Roberts is assistant director of communications at the College of Veterinary Medicine.

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Lindsey Hadlock