Graduation Gala Shines Spotlight on Class of 2019

Friday, May 17, 2019

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On the eve of commencement for Purdue Veterinary Medicine graduates, the College of Veterinary Medicine honored the outstanding achievements of the veterinary and veterinary nursing students in the Class of 2019 at the third annual Graduation Gala. Held in the Purdue Memorial Union North Ballroom, the event included dinner, the award presentations, and an after-party. 

Brenda and John stand against a photo backdrop holding her award certificate and medal
Brenda Najar received the PVAA Senior Leadership Award, which was presented by Dr. John Feutz, PVAA President.

“We are gathered tonight to celebrate the graduation of our students,” Dean Reed told the more than 500 attendees, including degree candidates and their families, and PVM faculty and staff.  “Graduation is a major milestone which is the culmination of years of dedication and hard work,” Dean Reed continued.  “For many of you, earning your DVM or Veterinary Nursing degree has been a lifelong goal.  And now you’ve done it!  You have grown as professionals and as individuals and you are prepared to begin a new phase of your life as doctors of veterinary medicine, or veterinary nurses.  We are proud to have you represent the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine!” 

Dean Reed went on to explain that the purpose of the event is to celebrate the accomplishments of all of the PVM graduates, while also recognizing those students selected to receive awards for outstanding scholarship and clinical excellence.  Additionally, two awards recognizing interns and residents were presented, as were awards for outstanding faculty and staff, as selected by the students.  Congratulations to all of the award recipients, as listed below in order of presentation:

Veterinary Nursing Program Awards:

Jamaica Ensz and Rachel Toone | Eber H. Allen Leadership Award, sponsored by the Northeast Indiana Veterinary Medical Association (NEIVMA), recognizing veterinary nursing students who exhibit outstanding leadership and professionalism which has resulted in advancing a positive image of the Veterinary Nursing Program

Marie Herring | Highest Academic Achievement Award, sponsored by Harry and Freida Latshaw, awarded to the student who has excelled academically and has earned the highest grade point average in the associate degree program

Jamaica stands with Dr. Zenor against a photo backdrop holding her award certificate
Dr. Bianca Zenor, Veterinary Nursing Program director, presented Jamaica Ensz with the Veterinary Nurse Highest Technical Proficiency Award.

Megan Allan | West Central Indiana Veterinary Medical Association Leadership Award, for a student selected by veterinary nurses who teach in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital for outstanding leadership

Erica Gaskins | Outstanding Veterinary Nurse Award, sponsored by Harry and Freida Latshaw, honoring a fourth year veterinary nursing student who exhibits both outstanding academics and excellent clinical skills

Jamaica Ensz | Veterinary Nurse Highest Technical Proficiency Award, sponsored by Connie Han and Cheryl Hurd, veterinary nurses who own CH2 Imaging, in recognition of outstanding technical proficiency in clinical rotations in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree Program Awards:

Excellence in Clinical Performance Awards:

Outstanding Clinical Proficiency Awards, Indiana Veterinary Medical Association, for fourth-year veterinary students in recognition of outstanding overall clinical proficiency in a particular species-focused area:

  • Melissa Jones | Outstanding clinical proficiency in small animals
  • Sarah Garst | Outstanding clinical proficiency in large animals
  • Ellen Weigel | Outstanding clinical proficiency in all species

Bryce Gilson | American Association of Feline Practitioners Award, for a fourth-year veterinary student who demonstrates superior interest and proficiency in feline medicine and surgery

Indiana Association of Equine Practitioners (IAEP) Awards, in recognition of fourth-year veterinary students who demonstrate the highest proficiency in equine medicine and surgery:

  • Abbie Haffner | First Place
  • Taylor Rietveld | Second Place
  • Ashley Ochs | Third Place

Cody Schnur | 15th District of the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association / American Board of Veterinary Practitioners Bovine Award, honoring a fourth-year veterinary student who excels in bovine medicine, surgery and herd health

American College of Veterinary Surgeons Awards, given to fourth-year veterinary students who demonstrate excellence and exceptional proficiency in surgery:

  • Nikol Irizarry | Outstanding proficiency in small animal surgery
  • Meghan Wanstrath | Outstanding proficiency in large animal surgery

Brittany Rasche | IDEXX Award for Proficiency in Clinical Pathology, sponsored by IDEXX, for a fourth-year veterinary student who displays exceptional proficiency in diagnostic clinical pathology

Brittany stands beside Dr. Messick holding her certificate
Brittany Rasche received the IDEXX Award for Proficiency in Clinical Pathology, which was presented by Dr. Joanne Messick, professor of veterinary clinical pathology.

American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) Awards, recognizing three fourth-year veterinary students who have demonstrated sincere interest in internal medicine:

  • Brittany Rasche | Clinical excellence in large animal internal medicine
  • Carissa Fraser and Brenda Najar | Clinical excellence in small animal internal medicine

Natalie Gregory | American Academy of Veterinary Dermatology Award, for a fourth-year veterinary student who excels in clinical dermatology

Alex Hegg | American College of Theriogenologists Award

Haley Jost | Comparative Ophthalmology Award, established by Purdue alumni in veterinary ophthalmology, recognizes a fourth-year veterinary student who has demonstrated outstanding performance in comparative ophthalmology

MacKenzie Schultz | Veterinary Emergency Critical Care Award of the Veterinary Emergency Critical Care Society, awarded to a fourth year veterinary student who excels in the area of veterinary emergency and critical care

Sam Smith | Veterinary Cancer Society Award, recognizing a fourth-year veterinary student who demonstrates proficiency in the care of veterinary oncology patients and aptitude in the subject of clinical oncology

Alexandra Scott | American College of Veterinary Radiology Award, for a fourth-year veterinary student who excels in comparative radiology and diagnostic imaging

Margaret Schlich | American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Award for Proficiency in Primary Care, recognizing a student for outstanding clinical proficiency in small animal medicine and surgery

Holly Renner | Indiana State Poultry Association Award, for high proficiency in avian medicine

Betsy Pray | American College of Veterinary Pathologists Award for Excellence in Veterinary Pathology, honoring a student for exceptional proficiency and interest in anatomic and/or clinical pathology

Jonathan Raichel, Ross University | VCS Award for Exceptional Clinical Proficiency by a Clinical Year Student, sponsored by the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, recognizes the tremendous effort and contributions made by students from Ross University and St. George’s University who are enrolled in the Clinical Year program in Purdue Veterinary Medicine

Excellence in Patient Care and Client Communications Awards:

Brittney Scales | G. Edward Cummins Compassionate Care Award, honoring the fourth-year veterinary student who best exemplifies compassion for animals and clients alike

Leslie Lundewall | Bastien Award, established by clients in recognition of the special care provided to their dog by students

Liya Tong and Brooke Fourthman | Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program Awards, for fourth-year veterinary students who exemplify compassion for shelter pets, excellent interaction with shelter clients, and proficiency in shelter medicine

Marissa Veld | Central Indiana Veterinary Medical Association (CIVMA) Award, recognizing a fourth-year veterinary student with superior client communication skills

Special Recognition Awards:

Katherine Kelly | PVM Class of 1983 Award, honoring a fourth-year veterinary student who has overcome obstacles or persevered despite difficult circumstances in the pursuit of the DVM degree

Brenda Najar | PVAA Senior Leadership Award, sponsored by the Purdue Veterinary Alumni Association, for an outstanding fourth-year veterinary student selected by classmates based on academic performance, activities, and leadership

Dean Reed stands beside Dr. Pabon as he holds his award plaque
Dean Willie Reed presented the Katie McCallister Compassion Award Dr. Michael Pabon, small animal intern.

Intern/Resident Awards:

Dr. Michael Pabon, small animal intern | Katie McCallister Compassion Award, in recognition of a resident or intern who demonstrates extraordinary compassion and empathy toward both patients and their families; possesses excellent communication skills that promote a sense of trust and confidence; and serves as an excellent role model for both students and peers in providing quality and compassionate care for their patients

Dr. Lauren Mundy, third-year resident in large animal surgery | Dr. Ann L. Johnson & Dr. Walter E. Hoffmann Resident Teaching Award, for residents who are particularly effective in fulfilling their responsibility to provide instruction to veterinary students

Faculty/Staff Recognition Awards:

Sarah Lahrman, RVT, (PU AS-VT ’98) oncology technologist | Elanco Veterinary Nursing Outstanding Teaching Award, awarded to a recipient who is selected on the basis of a vote by the veterinary nursing students, who are asked to consider the teacher’s ability to clearly communicate course content to students; facilitate skill acquisition; motivate students; demonstrate a continued willingness to facilitate student learning outside of the formal classroom, laboratory, and/or clinic setting; counsel and mentor students; and provide a positive role model

Dr. Jim Weisman (PU DVM ’97), assistant dean for student affairs and clinical associate professor | Weedon Faculty Recognition Award, presented to the faculty member who has made the greatest contribution to members of the current fourth-year veterinary class during their progress toward their DVM degree, as chosen by a vote of the current fourth-year students


Writer(s): Kevin Doerr | pvmnews@purdue.edu


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