Virtual graduation celebrates real doctors of veterinary medicine

The virtual ceremony video begins with the sun rising over Fort Collins, and Dr. Mark Stetter speaking to the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine graduates from the top of Horsetooth Rock. “I wanted to pick this very special place for a very special event, the commencement of the Class of 2020. When I think of sunrise and I think of May and I think of spring, I think of new beginnings, and what a perfect place to recognize and celebrate your transition from college into the real world,” said the dean.

“I want to commend you for following your hearts and dreams. You could have picked any profession, but I can think of none other that is as selfless and truly dedicated to making a positive impact in this world.”

The college streamed the video, which included messages from Dr. Tony Frank, President Joyce McConnell, and Provost Rick Miranda, in a live YouTube premiere on May 15, which allowed the 144 new doctors to celebrate virtually with each other and their families. More than 1,300 people joined in the festivities.

Nick Dannemiller
Dr. Nick Dannemiller gave his student commencement address from home.

Student speaker Nick Dannemiller spoke from an armchair, delivering a speech filled with humor and gratitude: “From Argus to central supply to pharmacy to animal care, and every service in between, all of you work extremely hard to provide exceptional veterinary care and service to our community, which is why it has been such a privilege to work and learn from each of you this past year.”

Dr. Craig Webb, interim hospital director, acknowledged the strangeness of converting clinical rotations to virtual meetings: “You think we like sitting in our chairs, staring at a computer, interacting with little boxes of faces? No! We actually look forward to spending your fourth year on the clinic floor with you live and in-person. And yet our faculty has transformed the way they deliver veterinary medical education these last couple of months, and I think they have done a tremendous job, really a staggering effort.”

Dr. Craig Webb
Dr. Craig Webb quoted from “The Hobbit,” and told the graduates “Be safe. Be Smart. And be brave.”

“As veterinarians, we are as qualified as anybody on this planet to understand and to deal with and to explain all sorts of infectious and zoonotic diseases,” Webb said.

“You will be looked at as the calm educated voice for the best practices for dealing with, yes, a pandemic… Is this job essential? Absolutely! You are the ones who will help us get through this pandemic.”

Dr. Tim Holt managed to deliver his signature stories with the same level of energy and scatological hilarity as he has in-person over the years. “Do I wish I could be standing in front of you, to look out and see your eyes and your excitement and your families? Absolutely, but it didn’t turn out that way. But it doesn’t matter, I love all of you.”

Faculty Awards
Melinda Frye with James Dean and Dean Martin
“On the premise that one can never have too many senior deans at an academic celebration, I invited two of my COVID-resistant dean friends to join me today.” -Dr. Melinda Frye

Dr. Melinda Frye, associate dean for veterinary academic and student affairs, enlisted a couple of extra “deans” (James and Martin) in the presentation of the faculty and student awards.

“I sincerely thank you for all that you have contributed, as individuals, to our program. And for your perseverance and dedication through this pandemic. Experiences from this time will shape your personal and professional life, and I know that you will contribute to our profession in unique and powerful ways,” Frye said.

Zoetis Distinguished Veterinary Teaching Award: Dr. Forgivemore Magunda

Outstanding Equine Instructor: Dr. Luke Bass

Outstanding Livestock Instructor: Dr. Tanya Applegate

Student Chapter American Veterinary Association Outstanding Senior: Dr. Emily Hill

Merck/American Veterinary Medical Foundation Innovation Award: Dr. Elle Holbrook

American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Clinical Excellence: Dr. Nicole Del Pino, Dr. Shannon Lu, and Dr. Kevin Samson

Professional Excellence Award: Dr. Lindsey Henao, Dr. Claire Tovrea, Dr. Robert Buntz, Dr. Marta Karn, and Dr. Amanda Gacioch

Student Awards
DVM 2020 mosaic photo
Gary Bordman, the father of Dr. Aryn Bordman, created a mosaic in honor of the Class of 2020. (CVMBS photo)

American College of Veterinary Anesthesiology Award, Dr. Khursheed Mama: Dr. Danielle Adney and Dr. Shelly Sullivan

DVM/Ph.D. Program Award, presented by Dr. Sue Vandewoude and Dr. Ed Hoover: Dr. Chloe Stenkamp-Strahm

American College of Veterinary Radiology Award, presented by Dr. Lynn Griffin: Dr. Kiera Sztukowski

American Association of Feline Practitioners Award, presented by Dr. Mike Lappin: Dr. Laurel Krause

The Center for Companion Animal Studies Award, presented by Dr. Mike Lappin: Dr. Amy Downey

American College of Veterinary Surgeons Student Surgical Proficiency Award, presented by Dr. Cat MacPhail: Dr. Miguel Hernandez

Gentle Doctor Award, Large Animal Medicine, presented by Dr. Cat MacPhail: Dr. Paige Johnson

Gentle Doctor Award, Small Animal Medicine, presented by Dr. Cat MacPhail: Dr. Melissa Sandate

Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society Award, presented by Dr. Tim Hackett: Dr. Taylor Curley

Excellence in Critical Care Award, presented by Dr. Kristin Zersen: Dr. James Damone

Excellence in Small Animal Urgent Care Award, presented by Dr. Kelly Hall: Dr. Elle Holbrook

Ophthalmology Service Award, presented by Dr. Kathryn Wotman: Dr. Kyle Kline 

Excellence in Dermatology Award, presented by Dr. Jennifer Schissler: Dr. Amanda Takiguchi

Bayer Excellence in Communication Award, presented by Dr. Jane Shaw: Dr. Zane Gouker

American Animal Hospital Association Award, presented by Dr. Rebecca Ruch-Gallie: Dr. Bailee Richards

The Sophie Award for Relationship-Centered Care, presented by Dr. Jane Shaw: Drs. Garrett Carrica, Lieu Balu, Jenny Klecka, and Amy Downey

VCS Bob Rosenthal Oncology Student Award, presented by Dr. Sue Lana: Dr. Alana Kuzmik 

Ringen Family Award for outstanding dedication and commitment to the field of Veterinary Oncology, presented by Dr. Sue Lana: Dr. Emily Janik

Dentistry Service Award, presented by Dr. Naomi Hoyer: Dr. Jennifer Schefski

Livestock Medicine and Surgery Awards, presented by Dr. Katie Simpson

Livestock Medicine and Surgery Clinical Proficiency Award: Dr. Andy Harding and Dr. Elena Cohen

Dairy Field Service Clinical Proficiency Award: Dr. Erica Sebastyan

Beef Clinical Proficiency Award: Dr. Bryan McDonald

American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners Award: Dr. Heather Davis

Equine Services Awards, presented by Dr. Dean Hendrickson

Equine Reproduction: Dr. Hannah Mcgranahan-Thompson

Surgical Service: Dr. Carissa Brandt

Medical Service: Dr. Mallory Lehman

Ambulatory Service: Dr. Zane Gouker

Emergency Service: Dr. Norine Ornelius-Walsh

Sports Rehabilitation: Dr. Libby Helmer and Dr. Amy Yohe 

American College of Veterinary Surgeons Student Surgical Proficiency Award: Dr. Kate Alexander

Still Proud: Messages from friends and family