Orman “over the top” about Gainesville

Suze Orman visits with a foal during a tour of the UF Veterinary Hospitals.

Suze Orman visits with a foal during a tour of the UF Veterinary Hospitals. (Photo courtesy of K.T. Travis)

By Sarah Carey

Unless you live in a cave, if you reside in Gainesville, you probably know that financial adviser, best-selling author and TV show host Suze Orman gave the commencement address to graduating students from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine on May 25 at the UF Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

USA Today has called Orman “a force in the world of personal finance” and a “one-woman financial advice powerhouse.” When it comes to awards, she’s got Emmys and Gracies; when it comes to family, she’s got a niece she adores — Katie Stender, D.V.M., a member of the college’s newest group of graduates. You might know that, too.

If you heard it live or watched Orman’s speech via streaming video, you know that she received a standing ovation for her 20-minute speech, which entreated veterinary students to live below their means, take advantage of their compounding years and start saving money now, put needs above wants and “keep good company” with people who respect their priorities. You might not know that Orman’s speech is now on her website (SuzeOrman.com), where millions from all over the world will likely hear it.

 More than 355,000 people follow Orman on Facebook, and her Twitter followers number more than 1.4 million, significant when you consider the cross-promotion of Orman’s team and UF to draw attention to her UF appearance and speech. As a financial guru, Orman’s appearance was of special interest to the veterinary community and key national professional groups due to the prominence of veterinary student debt in national media reports.

The heightened national awareness of the veterinary student debt crisis in in part due to the rising cost of education in general and in part due to relatively low starting salaries in the profession.

Here are few other things you might not know about Orman’s recent visit to Gainesville:

 • She would love to have a pet but is allergic to animals. Besides, she says, an animal deserves a human companion who has a more normal life than her professional schedule allows. “An animal needs company and a home and a familiar environment, not someone who’s going up and down and from this country to that,” Orman said, adding that she’s happy to live vicariously through her friends and Stender.
“I can’t tell you how many strays she’s brought home over the years,” Orman said.

• She loved Gainesville, the UF Health Veterinary Hospitals and the university in general, far more than she ever expected to.

 “Truthfully, I was shocked at what an incredible place Gainesville is,” Orman said. “Somewhere in your mind, right or wrong, you have this picture of a college town, but you get there and everything about the university is impeccable.”
Stender gave Orman and other family members a tour of the UF Health Veterinary Hospitals prior to the commencement ceremony.

 “I only wish the hospitals I’ve spent time in were as clean and professional and great as that one,” Orman said. “The fact that it’s an animal hospital just blew my mind. I doubt highly that any other vet school has a hospital that could top that.”

 Observing the camaraderie between students and their professors was a delight, Orman said, adding that a highlight of her tour was seeing new foals in the large animal pasture area.

 “I have never seen those before,” she said.

 Orman was wowed by the equine treadmill and the small animal rehabilitation area, but most of all with the feline blood donors.

 “Really, all of it amazed me, but I was so impressed that you guys have saved these cats and that they come to live there as blood donors,” Orman said. “I loved that Katie knew every name of every cat.”

 Stender will remain in Gainesville for the time being, working as a small animal veterinarian.

 Orman admitted that she initially had not been keen on her niece’s decision to stay in Gainesville.

 “I imagined it like the college I went to school at: ‘Leave it, already!’ But now, I think, why would you leave? Gainesville is central, only about four hours from Atlanta and I like that you get to see the change in seasons. When KT (her brand manager, Kathy Travis, who goes by KT) and I really examined it, we were over the top.”

 Stender took her aunt and other family members through other parts of the UF campus, driving around the outside of sports venues like the softball and baseball fields.

“I truly loved the camaraderie of the Gators and the facilities,” Orman said. “It’s really priceless because it brings people together on this level that really has nothing to do with anything other than something everyone is rooting for.”

 Then there was a practical element that stuck in her mind.

 “If you get a car in Gainesville, you don’t have to worry about salt erosion like you do where we live,” Orman said.

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June 3013

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