Student thankful for support
in health journey

Seth Colman and Dot McColskey in a CVM hallway on Nov. 1.

Seth Colman and Dot McColskey in a CVM hallway on Nov. 1.

Seth Colman got by with a little help from his friends.
In his case, his best friends were his veterinary school classmates.

In September 2010, Colman’s six-year battle with ulcerative colitis came to a head. Despite trying numerous medical and drug therapies, Colman’s doctors recommended that he take a medical withdrawal from veterinary school to undergo a major operation — surgical removal of his large intestine.

“I was sick for about 2,000 days,” Colman said. “Finally, two major surgeries, three hospital stays and 30 days spent at Shands later, I now feel amazingly healthy. I reenrolled in vet school in May 2010 with the Class of 2013, and just finished the second half of my junior clerkship requirement.”

Colman isn’t the first veterinary student to withdraw from school due to medical or other issues, then re-enroll with another class. However, he said he wanted to say a special thanks to not just his fellow students, but to staff from the Office for Students and Instruction.

“They accepted me into veterinary school knowing I had been battling illness and worked with me throughout the first two years of school to make my transition as easy as possible,” he said. “Dot (McColskey), Lynette (Chapparo), Terri (Weldon), Jonathan (Orsini) and Dr. (Paul) Gibbs were wonderful in helping me navigate the withdrawal process, checking on me him whenever I was in the hospital and then getting back into school. They do so much for us as students and often do not get enough credit.”

McColskey said that as Seth progressed in the curriculum, it became increasingly difficult for him to balance his medical needs and the rigors of the program.

“When Seth moved into clinical rotations he expressed concern about how to manage and balance the less demanding rotations around the more challenging ones,” McColskey said. “Seth badly wanted to stay on-track and graduate with his class.¬† However after 16 weeks of very gallant effort, Seth realized that he must take care of his physical needs and schedule surgery, even though it meant that he would now have to join the Class of 2013.”

He said members of his original Class of 2012 all understood his medical situation and helped him whenever he would miss class due to doctor’s appointments or not feeling well. Classmates visited him in the hospital and all wished him well, he said.

A close friend from that class, Stacey West, said Colman’s¬†determination to become a veterinarian, despite his disease, was inspirational to her and to her other classmates.

“It is so wonderful to see how great Seth is doing now,” West said. “We sure do miss him in our class though.”

Colman said his new class of 2013 has been “awesome.”

“I started back in clinics in May, and from Day One it was like I had been in their class for the past two years. They have accepted me with open arms and everyone has been super supportive. ”

He added, “The faculty and clinicians also worked with me, both in the classroom and on the clinic floor, and obviously my family, my fiance (a medical doctor and pediatric resident at Shands), and then all of the nurses, doctors and surgeons at Shands. I would not be where I am without them.”

Colman said he couldn’t remember what life was like before he got sick, but imagines it must have been similar to how it feels now.

“I can now pursue my future path as a veterinarian without the burden of illness,” he said.

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