College of Veterinary Medicine celebrates graduating students

On Friday, May 27 and Saturday May 28, graduating students with the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine celebrated with family, friends, faculty and staff at commencement week events.

The D.V.M. Class of 2022 was greeted at their Hooding Ceremony on Friday May 27, by Lorin D. Warnick, D.V.M, Ph.D. ’94, the Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine.

“Veterinary medicine offers a wonderful breadth of professional paths and I am confident you will be well prepared for whichever you choose,” he said. He went on to share some memories from his own professional journey, including a moment as a brand new ambulatory clinic intern, in which he was stitching up a horse with an eyelid laceration with an MD — experienced in just such surgeries in people — watching closely over his shoulder.

“Just what we needed — as if my fellow intern and I were not nervous enough already. You may have some similar experiences, but be assured that your confidence will develop quickly,” Warnick continued. “You will have mentors to help you along the way, and I know our faculty stand ready to offer support when you need their advice.”

After the dean’s speech, Dr. Mark Will ’89, immediate past president of the New York State Veterinary Medical Society, took the stage to administer the Veterinarian’s Oath, followed by Jai Sweet, Ph.D. ’96, assistant dean for student services and admissions, who called each student to the stage to be hooded.

Dr. Carolyn McDaniel, awardee of the 2022 Zoetis Distinguished Teacher Award, then delivered the charge to the class. “My advice to you, as you begin your professional careers, is to fully embrace the work that you choose, the pathway that you start on. Revel in it,” McDaniel said. “You may find that it is exactly the right pathway for you. But also be mindful of what gives you joy — and don’t hesitate to pivot to an unexpected new opportunity or interest.”

Three student awards were handed out at the ceremony, including:

  • The Horace K. White Prize, for the student with the highest academic record during their veterinary training: Allison Alana Bichoupan, D.V.M. ’22
  • The Malcolm E. Miller award, given to a student who has demonstrated perseverance, scholastic diligence and other personal characteristics that will bring credit and distinction to the veterinary profession: Helen Mingwen Chen, D.V.M. ’22.
  • The Leonard Pearson Veterinary Prize, awarded to the student who most successfully the potential for professional or academic leadership in veterinary medicine:  Jayden Ann Robert, D.V.M. ’22.

Additionally, the following students graduated with distinction:

  • Erika Baier, D.V.M. ’22
  • Allison Alana Bichoupan ’18, D.V.M. ’22
  • Maria Johnson, D.V.M. ’22
  • Aden Lessiak, D.V.M. ’22
  • Jayden Ann Robert, D.V.M. ’22
  • Zacharie Wund ’18, D.V.M. ’22

“Through hard work and perseverance, you have acquired a valuable combination of knowledge and skills,” said Jodi Korich, D.V.M. ’97, associate dean for education, who presented the awards. “When you see something that needs to be fixed, be the person who does the hard work to make the profession better for our patients, our clients and our coworkers.”

These statements were followed by a recognition of all veterinary interns and residents who were finishing their programs at Cornell. Dr. Meg Thompson, associate dean of hospital operations, addressed the group. “First, I want to bid goodbye to our curbside generation — we’ll take the good parts of curbside and leave the rest behind,” Thompson said, noting the months of COVID-19 restrictions that required clients to drop patients off at the curbside of the hospital. She emphasized how the group on the stage — interns, residents and the graduating students — all helped support clinical services during the pandemic.

The ceremony concluded with the singing of the Cornell Alma Mater, led by the college’s a capella group, Ultrasound.

Diverse degree programs

Cornell’s Masters of Public Health (M.P.H.) members also gathered to celebrate the graduation of 45 students. Warnick first spoke to the audience, thanking the faculty, staff and students of the M.P.H. program for all their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted “how hard it is to achieve effective communication, how difficult it is to apply the lessons of the pandemic even when they are right in front of our eyes every day, and how critical it is to address underlying chronic disease issues to reduce the impact of a pathogen like SARS CoV 2.  …  Your ability to establish trust with the people in the communities where you serve will be one of the largest determinants of your success.”

Professor Alex Travis, M.P.H. director and chair of the Department of Public and Ecosystem Health next addressed the students. “You haven’t waited for graduation day to start to have an impact,” Travis said. “You’ve gotten off to a truly wonderful start, and have great things ahead of you… Never underestimate the value of the difference that you are making.”

This was followed by four M.P.H. ’22 graduates, Francesca DiGiorgio, Jianxin Huo ’20, Sonja Lockhart and Jaylen Perkins, receiving Sustainability, Equity and Engagement Awards.

Next guest speaker Frank Kruppa, Tompkins County public health director, spoke to the graduates about their experience. “During the last two years, you've had the unique experience of completing your degree while public health became a forefront issue for the entire planet,” Kruppa said. “You can say you earned your M.P.H. while in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. You were learning public health while living public health. That makes you special. Use that experience.”

MPH graduating class
Cornell’s Masters of Public Health (M.P.H.) members also gathered to celebrate the graduation of 45 students. Photo: Darcy Rose/CVM

Graduating Ph.D. students in the college’s Biomedical and Biological Sciences Program also celebrated their achievements in a May 18 ceremony in the CVM Atrium, presided over by Dr. Robert Weiss, associate dean for research and graduate education, who made recognized the accomplishments of the graduates. The event was then followed by the university-wide Ph.D. recognition ceremony May 28. The degree conferral celebrated those who had graduated during the COVID-19 years of 2020 (12 graduates) and 2021 (19 graduates), as well as 2022 (six graduates). The CVM event also recognized students who had won fellowships and awards.

The Masters of Professional Studies in Parasitology had one graduate this May, Matt Bodnar, M.P.S. ’22, who completed his capstone presentation Friday, May 20. The program expects six more graduates in August of this year.

As all CVM program graduates gathered for the university-wide commencement ceremony on Saturday, they came armed with training that, as President Martha Pollack described, “would prepare you with not only the skills and knowledge but also the competence and the ethos and the habits of mind to add your own contribution to the influence on the world.”

Written by Lauren Cahoon Roberts