New graduates include nine
dual-degree recipients


Dr. Destiny Prezzano, CVM Alumni Council president, and commencement speaker Dr. Rick Alleman, professor of clinical pathology.

By Sarah Carey

Eighty-eight members of the Class of 2011 tipped their cap tassels from right to left as they received their D.V.M. degrees May 28 at the UF Phillips Center of the Performing Arts.  Nine new graduates also made history as the college’s first group to complete the D.V.M.-M.P.H. program, exiting the stage with two degrees to add to their resumes.

Following remarks from college dean Glen Hoffsis, the class heard from its president, Kendra Pope, and from its chosen commencement speaker, CVM clinical pathology professor Dr. Rick Alleman.

Pope is the immediate past president of the student chapter of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and will be furthering her career after graduation with a small animal rotating internship at the University of Pennsylvania. She hopes to pursue a residency in medical oncology following completion of her internship.

Pope congratulated her classmates and recapped some of the highlights of their four years in veterinary school, beginning with orientation at Camp Weed in 2007.

“The whole class piled into wooden cabins and bunk beds, with no air conditioning, in the middle of August, and yet  completely ecstatic about the journey we were about to embark on, and that we were coming one step closer to making our dreams come true,” Pope said. “Each year, new opportunities and experiences helped us change and grow into the graduating seniors who stand here before you today.

“It seemed to go so fast, when we look back now and see all that we’ve accomplished,” Pope added. She quoted French poet and novelist Anatole France, who wrote: “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”

Pope urged her fellow graduates to keep on believing: in themselves, in their education and in their dreams.

“We must remember that we’ve been given all the tools we need to succeed in our lives ahead,” she said. 

The college's first group of nine dual-degree recipients left commencement on May 28 with both D.V.M. and M.P.H. degrees.

Guest speaker Alleman told the class that there is nothing more important than the opportunities they will have during the course of their lives to “show love by doing something for someone or helping someone who at some moment in time can be helped only by you: by what you do, or by what you say.”

“When these opportunities occur during the course of our jobs as veterinarians, we are truly blessed,” Alleman said. “When each one of you leaves here, you will go to a new place, with a new job and new challenges.”

He added, “Whether you are working for the Peace Corps in a developing country, the armed forces, private practice, a zoo, an aquarium or a chicken farm, sometime, somewhere, someone is going to stand before you and they are going to need your help – maybe in a big way, maybe in a small way. And I hope you will realize, at that time and at that place, that you are the one who is supposed to help them.”

Alleman said these occasions could happen once a month, every week…even every day.

“If you’re lucky, you’ll recognize those opportunities every day in each person you meet,” he said. “That is what I want for you. I want you to recognize those opportunities as they arise during the course of your career, and count each chance as an opportunity to show your love for another person and their animal.”

From left to right are the 2011 Alumni Council Distinguished Award winners: Dr. Jim Thompson, Dr. Samantha Gibbs, Dr. Moody McCall, Dr. Ernest Godfrey and Dr. Dana Juillerat. In front is Bonzai, a service-dog-in-training with McCall.

The college’s 2011 Distinguished Award winners were honored and presented with their awards by Alumni Council president Dr. Destiny Prezzano (’05.)  Recipients included Dr. Jim Thompson (’81), Alumni Achievement Award; Dr. Moody McCall (’86), D istinguished Service Award; Dr. Ernest Godfrey, Special Service Award; and Drs. Samantha Gibbs (’01) and Dana Juillerat (’03), Outstanding Young Alumnus Awards.

Dean Hoffsis acknowledged special guests and family members and noted that commencement was indeed a time of celebration and pride. He also noted that the college had provided “the finest faculty we can assemble to deliver your educational experience.” 

Hoffsis took the opportunity to recognize Dr. Colin Burrows, a long-serving faculty member who will be retiring this year from his job as professor and chairman of the department of small animal clinical sciences.

“Dr. Burrows has been a champion for veterinarians his entire career and his dedication and commitment to the college is unparalleled,” Hoffsis said, thanking Burrows for furthering the college’s mission and wishing him continued success in retirement.
Editor’s note: For more photos, see the Commencement 2011 photo album on the college’s Facebook page at

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