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Penn Vet White Coat Ceremony V20

Notes to Students & Graduates from Penn Vet Alumni


Thank you to our alumni for taking a moment to share their words of encouragement and inspiration. To learn more about our Penn Vet Alumni community, visit us online or contact Shannon Groves, Director of Alumni Relations at grovessh@vet.upenn.edu.

A Great, Bright Future

Elaina Petrone, VMD, Penn Vet AlumnaYou all have a great, bright future ahead of you.

Life is always coming up with new challenges but we always make it through. This challenge will be no different.

The dedication and perseverance you have showed to get this far will carry you through to successful careers. Try not to stress and worry, you will be fine. 

Elaina Petrone, V'14

Focus on What You Can Control

Marne Platt, VMD, Penn Vet AlumnaThis unusual year is the first of many challenges you will face in your career. Each one will be difficult in its own way: your first solo surgery, your first euthanasia, the first time you quit a job or are fired.

You will survive each one, in your own way.

Focus on what you can control: your studying discipline, ways to reach family and friends, and of course complying with the public health restrictions.

We are all living through an example of why science, epidemiology, immunology, pharmacology and sociology matter.

Stay strong, stay optimistic, and if you need support, reach out. I and many others will be here for you.

Marne Platt, VMD '93 MBA

Marne Platt, V93 Scalpel

You Are the Heart of This Operation

Sarah Colmer, Penn Vet New Bolton CenterDear students,

As an alumna and current house officer at Penn Vet's New Bolton Center, I send my most sincere love and support to you all in this unprecedented and unfathomably difficult time.

Rest assured that you are missed and thought of daily by all the faculty and staff (and probably some of the patients, too).

You are the heart of this operation and and I know you will take everything you learned here and all the best pieces of yourselves out into the world and make it a better place, especially in a time when it needs it most.

The dust will soon settle and you will only be stronger on the other side of this experience, just like you have so many times after a difficult rotation or a tough round of final exams.

I am thinking of each and every one of you and appreciate everything you taught me along the way, too! Thank you all.

Best,
Sarah Colmer, V'17
Resident, Large Animal Internal Medicine
Penn Vet New Bolton Center

We Are Always Here

Hello Penn Vets!

I cannot imagine the stress you are living through. Vet school is hard enough, right?

Well it's ok and you know what? This is preparing you for the challenges of being a veterinarian.

Many times you will feel lost and alone. Many times you will not know what to do. Many times you will feel battered and cheated.

But, you are strong, intelligent, passionate people. You have, and always will, rise to the challenge. You will always find your way; and you are never alone because we are here with you.

When you don't know what to do or you are feeling torn and battered just know we are always here for you. You can do this, we have no doubt, because YOU ARE #PENN VET STRONG!

Margaret Weil, V'06

Lean on Each Other

Candice Lorendeau, VMD, Penn Vet AlumnaThe field of veterinary medicine is always unpredictable... but who ever counted a global pandemic as part of it!

This too shall pass, and in the mean time remember you are part of a community that leans on each other in times of need.

We veterinarians are considered essential -- may you be able to use this time to reflect on what about your future career is important to you and what motivates you to keep going when times are tough.

Keep your head up and remember we're all here to support you!

Candice Lorandeau, V'13

Think Outside the Box

David Dorn V81-Penn Vet AlumnusWith graduation and progressing through your education at Penn Vet, you have been faced with multiple challenges and have overcome them all so far.  Now you've been thrown a challenge that most never expected and most haven't had to deal with.  But you are smart, resilient people and you have been trained by some of the best in the world. 

You will be forced to use your training and intellect to help create new ways to provide care to patients and interact with clients.  You will need to think outside the box to solve the issues that are being faced.  Established practitioners will look to you for fresh ideas and new approaches.  And because you are some of the best and brightest and have been trained to deal with multidisciplinary approaches to cases, you will be able to evaluate the issues and look at them from a novel viewpoint and thus bring viable options to the table.  It won't be easy, but it will be exciting and fun. 

Because no matter the challenges, you are entering into the best profession in the world.  This is a profession that gives you the opportunity to enjoy every day for the challenges and opportunities presented.  And each day also gives you the satisfaction that you have met and overcome those challenges and provided an amazing service to your patients and clients in the process.  Very few people in this world are able to accomplish that each day.  Some days will be tougher than others, but overall you will be amazed at what you can do with the gifts you have and the skills that you will hone as you learn more each day.

David P. Dorn, V'81

The Greatest Glory

Charlotte Keenan, Penn Vet Alumna"The greatest glory in living is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail" - Nelson Mandela. 

Some may look at the current pandemic as a failure, and in some aspects it is. But we have an even greater opportunity to come out of this stronger than before. 

Your education in veterinary medicine is a critical component to understanding how this pandemic came about and how important veterinarians are to one health. 

Your Penn Vet education has given you critical thinking skills that can be applied now and well into the future.  Wishing you all success as we work together to come out of this pandemic. 

Stay well!

Charlotte Keenan, V'77

Charlotte Miller V77 sm

You Are Not Alone

Kim Boudwin, V09, Penn Vet AlumnaVet school is already such a challenging, crazy whirlwind on a good day, it's hard to imagine what you are all going through!

I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone, the veterinary community is here to support you and we are looking forward to the day you all graduate and come join us in practice.

Try to enjoy this time as much as possible, learn as much as you can and take care of yourselves! 

Congrats to the graduates and good luck to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd years - it will fly by (even in quarantine!).

Kim Boudwin, V'09

Stay Strong

Dr. Caleb Frankel, Penn Vet AlumnusHi, Penn Vet!

In these crazy times I wanted to remind you to keep your heads up! It must be one strange time to be graduating.

But these times will pass.

Tests, treatments, vaccines, and socializing will inevitably flow. This will pass, eventually.

In a few years, we’ll look back stronger and smarter and you'll be the generation setting the tone of the profession.

One thing is for sure amidst the unknowns right now: the community of animals that you will care for, will still need you. Rest easy knowing that you'll be ready.

Stay strong!

Caleb Frankel, V'08 (and the Instinct software team)

You Are Making History

Gia Croce, VMD, Penn Vet AlumnaHello students!!!! Happy Spring! 

Just a note to say I’m thinking of you and all the many ways this coronavirus pandemic has affected your veterinary education and understand there are disappointments along this social distancing journey.  But fear not!

You are all stellar individuals with indomitable spirits and youthful enthusiasm combined with emotional maturity poised to overcome these losses during these unprecedented times.  You are wonderful individuals who will always succeed by sheer drive and passion for your veterinary career. 

Historically, there have been times of great sadness and sacrifice, and people came together to make it through together.  As veterinary students, you are all too familiar with sacrifice and dedication toward a goal-who among you may have had to skip a fun event just to study hard and be prepared for an exam?  Who among you can become so busy with schoolwork that they may not have time to call home and check in? 

Remember that this too shall pass.  You are making history! Although it’s unexpected and the challenges of online or distanced everything now seems overwhelming and unmanageable, you will be okay.  You will get through it. And, i feel you will be stronger for it.

I’m sorry for the things you look forward to sharing with family, friends, and community aren’t in place for you to enjoy right now-but celebration and joy at your accomplishments is in our hearts and your parents hearts and professors hearts.  We all celebrate you and all you’ve achieved! Keep up your good graces and keep your chins up despite these times-you are leaders and PennVet leads! 

I am thinking of you and love all of you, especially those I’ve seen already at Providence Animal Center for surgical skills externships.  I’ve seen how independent and talented you are-don’t let this time get you down.  Your life is not diminished, instead, it is blossoming even as i write.  Keep calm and carry on.  You’ve all got this!!!!

Many hugs, Gia Croce, V'92

Don't Be Afraid to Explore

James Fawcett, VMD, Penn Vet AlumnusCongratulations graduate of the class of 2020. 

This year I will be a practicing veterinarian for 55 years. I still practice part time.

What wonderful adventures you have waiting for you. How much you will learn. What joys, when a dog licks your face or a client says thank you. What sorrows when you lose a hard fought battle or perform a euthanasia. 

Don’t be afraid to explore. 

I enjoyed food animal practice in rural Pennsylvania and companion animal practice in suburban Miami, Florida. 

James Fawcett, VMD - Scalpel-smSavor every moment. Then you too will be able after 55 years to look back and say, “how lucky I was to be a Penn Vet”.

Best wishes.

Jim Fawcett,VMD ‘65

I Love My Job

Megan-Snyder, VMD, Penn Vet AlumnaPlease know that we are all in this together and I hope this time helps you regain your love for science and the importance it has in this world. We need more people like you doing what you’re doing to keep us and our animals safe. 

As I sit at home listening to CE lectures, AAEP presentations from previous years, catching up on journal articles and responding to emails, I realize how much I love my job as a veterinarian.

We are a special group of people that care for both people and animals and this time has reminded me how I miss my patients, my colleagues and my clients. I love being a veterinarian and how we serve so many roles in society. 

I hope you and your families are safe during this difficult time and our science community finds the answer soon. 

Keep doing what you’re doing PennWe’s and go out there and make the world a better place.

Megan Snyder, V'10

We Are Always Learning

As veterinarians, we are always learning.

Your graduating class now has more experience adapting to new ways of working and learning than most of us have ever been challenged with. This will better prepare you for this ever changing world.

After graduation, you will have a skill set that is in demand. We can work together, as we each have value to add to each other. We will mentor and guide you, and you in return, will lead us by showing us new ways of doing things.

Together we will advance veterinary medicine to new heights.

Diana Reska, V'14

Moving Forward

Seth Eaton, VMD, Penn AlumnusDear students,

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, my classmates and I were sitting in a lecture in Room 13. With no warning, class was interrupted and we were told by a school administrator that there was an active terror attack in New York City and that we were to leave the School and return to our homes until further instruction. 

I'll never forget that morning and the way the air felt. It was unfamiliar and surreal.  And in the days that followed, things started changing. Two of our classmates never came back to School. Others couldn't return home to New York to be with their families.  Some still hadn't heard from loved ones that worked in Lower Manhattan.

It was a scar on our country that would take years to heal; but in the months and years that followed we moved forward, we went to work, and as students at Penn we threw ourselves into our studies and at the end of four years, became veterinarians. Four years after 9/11, I was an intern at AMC in Manhattan, where New Yorkers still had not healed, but continued to look forward to better days ahead.  Even though it is a distant memory, I will never forget those years following 9/11 when we were all just trying to figure things out the best ways we knew how.

The COVID-19 crisis this year is like nothing we've ever dealt with in our lives before and, unlike 9/11, this is an event that is taking lives in many countries and is so much bigger and so much more terrifying in its magnitude.  COVID is forcing us to face fears that we never knew we had, and to make changes in our lives that we never fathomed we'd have to make. We are "winging it" in nearly every aspect of our daily lives, trying to accomplish our tasks efficiently while working remotely, trying to balance our lives, and find comfort even though we can't embrace our families and loved ones the ways we want to, and trying to understand if and when things will get better.  Amidst all of this, you are trying to fulfill your dream of becoming a veterinarian; but with all of these nebulous unknowns, it may seem an unachievable goal.

Bottom line: The months and years ahead will be hard. Things will be tedious and frustrating. There will be days when you are in the weeds and feeling overwhelmed and lose your way a little. However, you will adapt and should take comfort in the fact that you are in good company.  I am a clinical assistant professor at another veterinary school and we are all struggling to make sense of things, but as educators we learn more every day about how to make it work and how to make the process the best we can for students. We understand how stressful and upsetting this is for you and it is our highest priority to innovate and make sure that your education not only makes you the best veterinarian, but is also enjoyable and memorable.

Even though it seems like there may not be one taking shape, trust the process. It's there - it just needs to declare itself over time. And trust Penn. I feel lucky to have received my VMD from Penn, just like you will, and have nothing but the utmost confidence in the School's faculty and administration.  They will get you through this. And your classmates will get you through this. And your friends and family will get you through this. And you will succeed because you will do what you set out to do, even though the path may look a little different than you had envisioned.

You will always remember this time in your life, and many of the memories will involve the uncertainty you may be experiencing now. But you'll also remember how you persevered and learned from your faculty and mentors and connected with pet owners and contributed to groundbreaking research and made animals and people healthier.  COVID may delay things from happening and change the world in ways that are out of our control, but it won't change our goal of helping the world's animals live better lives. Remember your goal. You'll get there, and it will all be worth it.

Seth Eaton, V'04


An Unprecedented Time

Dr. Margaret Weil, Penn Vet alumnaHi Everyone,

I know this is such a stressful uncertain time, but rest assured – it is just a delay.  Take a deep breath and remember that we will get back to "normal" work soon. 

Pay attention to the medicine and research that this pandemic is inspiring because it is an unprecedented moment for scientific history. 

Be proud of our roll in public health because this is what we are trained for. 

I am proud of each and every one of you for everything that you've accomplished.  Go out into the world and do great things!

Nina Mantione, V'95

#PennVetStrong

Kate Boatright, Penn Vet AlumnaHi, Penn Vet!

I know that your studies have been altered in a way none of us could have imagined just a few short months ago. Our practices have been as well.

But we will all emerge from this stronger than ever.

Stay strong. Keep studying. We will see you on the other side of this!

#PennVetStrong

Kate Boatright, V'13

You Are All Such Bright Stars

Stacey Bartholomew-Massaro, V'15, Penn VetI can't imagine that this is how you envisioned finishing out the year, but you are all such bright stars in the future of our profession.

Even if you are reading this and thinking -- yeah right, I'm not a bright star, I'm struggling!

You may be struggling, but you ARE bright!

Keep staying strong through to the end-- plus, think of the stories you'll have to tell for years to come!

The whole Penn Vet community is behind you and rooting for your success. For those of you graduating, we are ALL celebrating your accomplishments, even if you can't do it in person.

Congratulations!

Stacey Bartholomew-Massaro, V'15

Through Extraordinary Times

Nathanael Oster, Penn Vet AlumnusPenn Vet Students and Graduating Class!

If one thing has become clear to me over the past two months of, it is that veterinarians are going to have more and more career options.

We (and soon to be you!) are ESSENTIAL to the health and well-being of animals and to the betterment of society through ordinary times and particularly through extraordinary times. 

While there is much to be upset about, what is happening now will only drive the expansion of veterinary roles, provide a catalyst for expanded and accessible healthcare for pets, and thus create more abundant and more enriching jobs for YOU. 

You are essential.  Feel that way.

Nathanael Oster, V12

I Am So Glad to be a VMD

Katherine Houpt, V63, Penn Vet AlumnaYou will wake  up every day thinking, “I am so glad to be a VMD” as I do. Every day.

Katherine Houpt, V'63
Clinical Sciences, Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine
Diplomate - American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
James Law Professor Emeritus, Section of Behavior Medicine

An Exhaustive List of Opportunities

John Lewis, VMD, Penn Vet AlumnusDear Penn Vet Class of 2020:

Ironically, the vision for the future in 2020 is unclear.

However, I’m not telling you something you already don’t know when I say that your education at Penn Vet has provided you with a diverse and exhaustive list of opportunities for employment in a variety of veterinary fields.

Try not to worry about the uncertainty. Just do your best, and the rest will come to you.

There will always be a need for great vets!

All the best throughout your career,

John Lewis, VMD, FAVD, DAVDC

John Lewis, V97 scalpel

The Spirit of Endurance

Karen Usselman, VMD, Penn Vet AlumnaAs if navigating veterinary school is not challenging enough, you are all having to do it during extraordinary times. 

The spirit of endurance and community that you are relying on exemplifies what you will find at the end of your education as you enter the veterinary world as a fully licensed and capable veterinarian. 

Know that all you are experiencing builds on the core strength and resilience you already have inside you and will serve you for years to come. 

There is a brilliant career ahead of you full of challenges and wonders that you can not even imagine. Stay strong and resolute and know the goal you are working toward is more than worth the effort.

Best wishes and stay safe!

Karen Usselman, V'96

Be Kind to Each Other

Mary Jane McNamee, VMD, Penn Vet AlumnaYou can do this. 

Just remember everything you accomplished to get here in the first place. 

Let this be an inspiration moving forward and remind you what an an important role you play in the One Health Initiative. 

And when you are feeling particularly stressed, take the time to love on your patients a bit more. Always remember, they are more than a diagnosis or a cool case that you learned about. 

And be kind to each other and surround yourselves with those who lift you up.  I am still in touch with many of my classmates, 23 year later! 

Mary Jane McNamee V97, PV scalpelCannot wait to welcome you to our unique profession.

Mary Jane McNamee, V'97

You Have Done Well

Raymond Stock, VMD, Penn Vet AlumnusYou have worked hard and devoted your heart and soul towards achieving your goal of being a veterinarian.

Now the world has come to a screeching halt.

Whether you are in the midst of your first three years or ready to receive your VMD, the present reality is hard to accept. We are all experiencing frustration, anxiety, and even fear in the face of an unknown future.

Your emotions may be particularly acute given the intensity of years of dedication aimed towards earning your coveted VMD. In the present and near future it may be of little comfort to know that all of this will soon be in the distant past.

However, this is true of the vast majority of painful events we experience. All lives are speckled with both joy and disappointment and yet, over the long term, you will have lived a happy and satisfying life.

Your newly-earned VMD does not have an expiration date and no circumstance can take it from you. For the present focus on the gratitude of possessing a veterinary degree, which only a tiny number of people will ever attain.

You have done well! Wishing you good health, a rewarding career, and a life of joy.

Ray Stock, V'75, MBE

We Are Needed

Laura O'Sullivan, Penn Vet AlumnaIt must be hard not being able to finish your degree on campus, but years from now you will look back on this time and be thankful for how it shaped you into the veterinarian you become.

This pandemic highlights the needs for our profession in incredible ways.

We are needed in the clinic, to care for pets providing immense mental benefits to those in isolation.

We are needed in research, where new therapeutics are being developed and tested.

We are needed in public health, where veterinarians understand the risk of spillover at the human-animal interface.

We are truly essential employees, and remember, the world is your oyster! Good luck! -Laura, V'14

Laura O'Sullivan, V'14

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