Members of the UF College of Veterinary Medicine’s Class of 2023 put together 11 thank you videos for every instructor of every course they took in the fall semester and two staff members instrumental in their learning, in appreciation of their commitment to the students’ education in such a challenging time. The above video, which went to their cardiopulmonary professors, is just one of several that were sent to the instructors via email in mid-January.

The idea for the videos was first brought up in one of the class’s monthly officer meetings.

“We all knew how difficult the past year had been for everyone; loved ones were lost, friends and families were separated, people feared for their health and safety, and amongst all that, we still had to focus on continuing to pursue our veterinary career,” said Adrianna Sniezek, class morale chair, who coordinated the effort.

She said their professors and two staff members who taught classes understood the challenges the students faced and did their “absolute best” to accommodate them.

“From tediously creating COVID-compatible schedules to allow in-person palpations in Theriogenology, to giving students a daily laugh with silly videos and jokes in Toxicology and Endocrinology, to offering extra office hours every week in Clinical Pathology and Microbiology, every single professor went above and beyond to make this past school year as manageable and as positive as possible,” Sniezek said.

“Because they did so much for us, we felt it necessary to repay them for their kindness and decided that sending a collective thank you from the class would be the best way to do it,” she added.

Sniezek said it was easy for students, in all colleges, not just at UF, to overlook the hard work instructors put into their classes.

“Professors often receive criticism for all the things they ‘do wrong’ in their classes, but rarely do they receive thanks or positive feedback for all the things they do well,” she said. “Years of this can wear a person down, especially after a year like 2020. That is why I knew these videos would be the perfect way to give back to our professors.”

Sniezek said she hoped the videos would make the professors’ hard work and dedication feel worthwhile and would reinvigorate their enthusiasm for teaching.

“When I brought this idea up to the rest of our class and the impact I imagined it would have on our professors, so many of them were thrilled to help out,” she said.

Producing the videos was no easy task. In early December, Sniezek began emailing her classmates, encouraging them to provide 2-second videos of themselves saying “thank you.” It took weeks for all the videos to come back, after which she had to sort, convert and compile the files into a video editor app, where she then personalized every professor’s thank-you video.

“I wanted to add a special touch to each video that I knew would mean a lot to them,” she said.

After spending considerable time formatting all 11 videos, Sniezek found that uploading and sending the videos to each individual actually took the most time.

“The video files themselves were too large to send via email, so I had to do some experimenting,” she said. “After compressing the videos, converting quality settings, and searching Google for hours for a solution, I finally realized that uploading the videos to YouTube would be the most efficient way to get them out there.”

Once uploaded to YouTube, Sniezek emailed each professor their personalized video links and waited for their responses. She immediately began to receive email replies from professors expressing their gratitude and sharing how impactful the videos were.

“There were lots of happy tears, days made, and feelings of fulfillment,” she said.

The email response that moved her the most read, “You may never know how much your thank you means to each and every one of us.”

Within just a few days, the videos had collectively gathered nearly 600 views.

“These videos started out simply as a way to make our professors feel appreciated, but they ended up being so much more than that,” she said. “The impact these videos had on so many people made the weeks of hard work well more than worth it. I hope these thank you videos inspire others to be more gracious and spread kindness whenever possible. Always remember, just two seconds of your time could positively impact a person’s life forever.”

Dr. Leah Reznikov, an assistant professor of physiological sciences, was one of the faculty members who received a thank-you video.

“It was so touching,” she said.

“In this age of skepticism about whether ‘college’ is a good value, these messages from the students show that despite COVID-19 and all of the other constraints on us over the past 10 months, we prevailed,” said Dr. Julie Moore, chair of the department of infectious diseases and immunology.

Dr. Guy Lester, who chairs the department of large animal clinical sciences, referenced just one of the many courses instructors offered last fall that was especially challenging: theriogenology.

“That course was a beast to put on, primarily because of the large number of animal labs,” he said. “I know that all of the instructors were thrilled to receive the video.”

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