Coins presented to new grads meant to symbolize accomplishment

Dean Glen Hoffsis with Suze Orman

Dean Glen Hoffsis, left, received one of the specially minted coins commissioned by Suze Orman, right, as her gift to the UF CVM Class of 2013. (Photo by Sarah Carey)

By Sarah Carey

One of the most memorable aspects of 2013 commencement for the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine was speaker Suze Orman’s presentation of specially minted coins to each new graduate, intended as an acknowledgement of their years of hard work and accomplishment.

Orman, a personal finance expert, best-selling author and media personality, spent months commissioning and perfecting the customized coin, which, she said, “no one else will ever give them, and they could never buy.”

“This is very special,” said Orman’s brand manager, K.T. Travis, prior to the presentation. “It’s a solid brass coin that is usually minted only for the United States military when someone does something of great value and achievement. Hopefully this coin will remind the new doctors that what they are doing is not about making money or about paying off debt, really. Hopefully it’s something they will cherish.”

Two days after the ceremony, Orman reflected on the story behind the coins.

In her career, she has performed extensive work for the military and the armed forces, presenting courses in finance to troops, making speaking appearances at bases and by being involved in various campaigns to help members of the military better manage their money.

“Obviously I’d never let them spend money on me or pay me to do such a thing; it wouldn’t be right,” Orman said. “It’s my service to the country.”

Within the armed forces, especially the Air Force, the squadrons usually have a coin, Orman said.

“They all have coins they present to honor someone who has done something of outstanding service to the country,” she said. “The first time I was on an Air Force base, I was presented with my very first coin. I was so touched by that coin and the message of it. I thought, wouldn’t it be fabulous if I had my own coin.”

Travis soon commissioned one for her.

BLJPTSeCEAAl33S.jpg thumb“The image on my coin, which is different than the coin we had minted for the new graduates, has my necklace that I wear around my neck on one side and the world on the other side,” Orman said.

Orman shared that once while visiting the White House, President Barack Obama heard she was there and invited her to the Oval Office.

“I had my coin on me and I presented it to him, and he in turn gave me his coin,” she said. “I now have 73 coins from all of the two-star generals and from the President. Coins are the only thing I collect.”

Orman added, “Everyone knows I have my own coin. You can’t buy my coin. I just had the idea, why not mint one for the graduating class? We just wanted them to know it was minted for them, as a gift.”

Travis helped with designing the coin, which offers a twist on Orman’s motto — “People First, then Money, then Things.” The coins presented to the new graduates are inscribed on one side with “Paws First, Then Money, Then Things” with “Suze Orman” on the bottom. Orman’s group commissioned only enough coins to give each graduate, with a few extras for individuals who had played a key role in organizing the event.

The coins feature green, orange and brown accent colors in a modified veterinary caduceus with an alligator symbolizing the Florida Gators taking the place of the traditional snake wrapped around the staff on one side; the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine is inscribed on the other side.

“It had to say ‘Paws’ so the doctors would absolutely know that it was for them,” Orman said.

To her, the coins represent service performed for others that there isn’t enough money to buy.

“I have to tell you, it took quite a while to make sure the coins looked right, that the letters were spaced properly, and so forth,” she added. “It was not an overnight thing. It actually took several months. So that is the story behind the coins.”

As she neared the end of her 20-minute speech, she prefaced her intent to present each student with a coin with a quote from poet Maya Angelou: “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but, they will always remember how you made them feel.”

“Class of 2013, I want you to always remember how I made you feel,” Orman said.

So how did the new graduates feel after hearing Orman’s speech?

Many said they felt empowered.

“I remember feeling hopeful, like maybe my loan debt is something that I really can manage,” said Erica Irish, D.V.M. “I know I’ve told myself, ‘I can’t’ a bunch of times — I can’t get into vet school, I can’t pass these classes, I can’t do clinics, I can’t pass boards. So telling myself that I can’t manage this loan debt is really a lie. I can do it, and I can accomplish anything else in my path.”





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