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White Coat Ceremony Honors Veterinary Students Entering Their Clinical Year

Friday, May 3, 2019

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group photo of veterinary students on the steps of Lynn Hall wearing their new white coats
Members of the DVM Class of 2020 gather for a group photo wearing their new white coats.

Purdue Veterinary Medicine’s DVM Class of 2020 participated in a beloved College of Veterinary Medicine tradition Sunday, April 7, when the class members received white coats symbolizing their new role as junior veterinarians. Now in its 18th year, the annual White Coat Ceremony, held in Stewart Center’s Fowler Hall, honored the third-year veterinary students as they prepared for their final year of the DVM program. Elanco Animal Health and numerous alumni donors sponsored the afternoon ceremony.

Walter-John McGowan stands beside Latonia Craig for a photo during the reception
Faculty, staff, friends, and family celebrated during a reception following the ceremony, where veterinary student Walter-John McGowan paused for a photo with Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Latonia Craig.

PVM Dean Willie Reed began the ceremony by thanking the many families, friends, and loved ones who attended the special occasion.  “It is now time to celebrate the rite of passage for our third-year veterinary students,” Dean Reed said, explaining that the ceremony marks the students’ passage from the classroom into the clinic. “The white coat indicates your acceptance of your great responsibility toward your patients and clients, your commitment to show compassion and empathy, and to make a positive difference in the life of every animal and person with whom you come into contact.”

The dean then turned the program over to Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Kathy Salisbury, who called the members of the Class of 2020 to the stage individually to receive their white coats. Representatives of the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association also were present to congratulate the students and provide each class member with an engraved name badge.

Dr. Micha Simons speaks on stage behind a podium
Dr. Micha Simons, clinical assistant professor of small animal surgery, shared insights as a clinician with the DVM Class of 2020 during the White Coat Ceremony.

Next, the students heard from Ellen Weigel, of the DVM Class of 2019, who shared words of wisdom as a fourth-year student nearing graduation. “Having been in your shoes one short year ago, I imagine many of you are feeling anxious, nervous, or even scared, while others of you might be feeling more confident and ready to start your clinical year,” Ellen said. “Regardless of where you are on the spectrum of emotions, I promise that you are ready. The past three years have taught you the foundations of all you need to know.  The exciting part now is getting to practice medicine and feel like a doctor.”  Ellen went on to assure them, “With a team focus, self-awareness and a positive attitude, you all will thrive in the next year. I wish you all the best as you start this exciting journey.”

Dr. Micha Simons, clinical assistant professor of small animal surgery, also addressed the third-year students, offering a clinician’s insights about their journey ahead. Dr. Simons was selected to speak at the ceremony by a vote of the third-year class members. Dr. Simons taught the small animal surgery courses for the class and will teach the class members during the coming year in the small animal general surgery rotation. “I’m extremely proud of your accomplishments and you should be, too,” Dr. Simons said. “Know that you have the support and confidence of everyone here today, and the entire Purdue faculty and staff behind you every step of the way.”  She encouraged them not to be afraid to ask questions during the coming year, adding, “I promise…we are there to help you succeed.”  She concluded, “It will be a challenging time and at times you won’t know whether you’re coming or going, and you will question everything all at once. But know that you are more than capable of rising to and exceeding all expectations.”

The ceremony also included the presentation of awards recognizing individual members of the class for special accomplishments. The following award-winners were honored:

  • Levi Smith – Dr. William W. Carlton Award for Aptitude in Veterinary Pathology, which recognizes a third-year student who has shown aptitude in the study of pathology
  • Danielle Keating – Indiana Horse Council Equine Industry Award, which is presented to a student chosen by peers as having provided the greatest exposure of the equine industry to other students
  • Zachary Ready – Holly Watts Memorial Award, which honors a student with exceptional interest and proficiency in non-domestic animal medicine
  • Katie Bauer – Simmons & Associates Business Aptitude Award, given in recognition of a student who expresses interest in and aptitude for the business of private veterinary practice
  • Christina Smith – Twelfth District of the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association Award, which recognizes a third- or fourth-year veterinary student who demonstrates excellence in academic performance, research, or service in veterinary preventive medicine

The Open House Co-chairs, Katrina Frerichs and Ashley Hopkins, also were recognized.

Dean Reed concluded the program by congratulating the members of the Class of 2020 on reaching this pivotal point in their training. “The next year will be a phenomenal learning experience,” Dean Reed said. “So, immerse yourself in it so you can become the best veterinarian you can be. And at the same time, have fun.” The ceremony was followed by a reception for the students and their families and friends.

Congratulations to the DVM Class of 2020!


Writer(s): Kevin Doerr | pvmnews@purdue.edu

Category: Academics, DVM


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