Outdoor Setting Affords Perfect Place for Purdue Veterinary Medicine’s 2021 Oath Ceremony

Friday, May 21, 2021

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Dean Reed stands in ceremonial garb wearing a face mask as graduates are lined up in the background on the grassy lawn
As the graduates gather on the grounds of the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater Park before the Graduation Celebration Saturday, May 15, Dean Reed gets ready to lead the procession into the amphitheater.

Before a backdrop of lush Indiana woodland on the banks of the Wabash River, the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine hosted a carefully planned and orchestrated in-person Oath Ceremony Saturday afternoon, May 15, to recognize the Veterinary Nursing and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine graduates in the Class of 2021.  Held at the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater, the ceremony was a fitting conclusion to a challenging but successful academic year that featured in-person instruction carried out with strict adherence to the Protect Purdue guidelines for ensuring the health and safety of students, staff, and faculty.

Customarily held on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Ind., the Oath Ceremony was moved this year to the outdoor venue just five miles northeast of campus, allowing for safe social distancing for graduates and a limited number of guests.  The program was accessible to additional friends and loved ones remotely via live streaming. 

The weather also helped, with comfortable temperatures and overcast but not threatening skies.  A total of 385 guests and 33 Purdue Veterinary Medicine faculty and staff attended in-person with some 300 watching live online. 

Bayli stands behind the podium wearing a cap and gown and a face mask
Bayli Grubb, BS, RVT, gave the class response for the Veterinary Nursing graduates.

Before the program started, the graduates gathered on the grassy area adjacent to the facility, which sits on a 166 acre park, and then processed into the seating area. “What a nice-looking group,” Dean Willie Reed said as he opened the program and welcomed everyone to the ceremony.  “It is wonderful to be able to hold this event in-person after a most unusual and challenging academic year in which our PVM family of faculty, staff, and students pulled together and, with the help of everyone’s commitment to the Protect Purdue Pledge, safely and successfully completed the in-person and hands-on instruction so vital to a quality veterinary medical education. For you, the members of our Purdue Veterinary Medicine Class of 2021, this represented an extraordinary accomplishment for which you always will be remembered.”

Dean Reed explained how, during the more than 60 years since the college opened in 1959, no other class of DVM or Veterinary Nursing students faced what the members of the Class of 2021 did. “All of you worked together to face down the challenges posed by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and, in keeping with the Protect Purdue Pledge, supported your own and each other’s health and safety, as well as that of the community, by following the requirements for hand washing, social distancing, wearing masks and face-shields, and sanitizing classroom, lab, and clinical areas. Through all of this, you all did something truly amazing, by enabling us to recognize today the graduation of our Class of 2021 Veterinary Nursing and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree candidates.”  He added, “If ever there was a time to celebrate, this is it!”

The graduates also heard from several guest speakers, including Dr. Erin Kosta Wilson (PU DVM 2008), president of the Purdue Veterinary Alumni Association; Dr. Hilary Christner, president of the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association; and Crystal Schaeffer, BS, RVT, president-elect of the Indiana Veterinary Technician Association

Veterinary Nursing graduates stand in front of their seats reading the oath from the event program
Veterinary Nursing Program graduates recite the Oath of Ethical Conduct during the PVM Graduation Celebration at the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater.

Dean Reed then transitioned to the part of the ceremony when the Veterinary Nursing Program graduates were recognized by explaining that Purdue University is one of a select few veterinary nursing or technology programs that offer both bachelor and associate degrees. “The entry point to the veterinary nursing profession is the two-year Associate of Applied Science degree, which requires completion of a rigorous curriculum accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association,” Dean Reed explained. “Students who complete an additional two years of education, in which they learn and develop a deeper understanding of veterinary medical-related diseases, diagnostics, advanced nursing skills, and team management skills, earn the Bachelor of Science Veterinary Nurse degree. These graduates have earned the right to be identified by wearing the Purdue University Veterinary Nursing pin, which they will receive when they come forward to the stage as their names are called.”

Dean Reed next introduced Bayli Grubb, BS, RVT, of Owensville, Ind., who spoke on behalf of the Veterinary Nursing graduates as their class responder, before each of the graduates were recognized individually, beginning with the associate degree graduates, who completed either the on-campus program or the Veterinary Nursing Distance Learning Program. Dean Reed noted that associate degree graduates from AVMA-accredited programs are eligible to become registered veterinary technicians upon passing the veterinary technician national examination.

Edris stands behind the podium smiling with his hands clasped together
Dr. Edris Grate gave the class response for the DVM Class of 2021.

Dr. Chad Brown, director of the Veterinary Nursing Program, then came to the podium to read the names of each of the Veterinary Nursing graduates as they came onto the stage to receive their veterinary nursing pin from Jordan Williams, senior instructional technologist in the Veterinary Nursing Program. After recognizing the associate degree graduates, Dr. Brown introduced the baccalaureate degree graduates, noting, “They have worked diligently to acquire the additional knowledge and understanding of medicine, diagnostics, and therapeutics that will allow them to participate fully in all parts of the decision-making process for patient care.” 

Dean Reed then returned to the podium to introduce Holly McCalip, instructional technologist, who was selected by the Veterinary Nursing students to lead them in reciting the Veterinary Technician Oath. In addition to the graduates, all veterinary nurses in the audience were invited to stand and join in reciting the oath.

Dean Reed then addressed the graduates of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program.  Noting that they are following in the footsteps of more than 3,500 DVM alumni who have gone before them, he said, “Now, as members of the Class of 2021, you are ready to build on that legacy, and demonstrate anew that Purdue University trains the best veterinarians an animal-owner can find.”

Next, Dean Reed introduced Dr. Edris Grate of Baltimore, Md., who was selected by his peers to give the class response. Then, Dr. Kathy Salisbury, associate dean for academic affairs, stepped to the podium to read the name of each of members of the newest class of Purdue veterinary graduates as they walked across the stage to be hooded by Dean Reed. 

Tatiana jumps with joy in the grass at the amphitheater in her graduation robe and cap
Dr. Tetyana Sofiychuk, of the DVM Class of 2021, displays the exuberance felt by all the graduates following the Graduations Celebration held at the Tippecanoe County Amphitheater.

After returning to the podium, Dean Reed said he had one last assignment for the DVM graduates, and invited the DVM faculty and all veterinarians in attendance to stand and join the new graduates in reciting the Veterinarians’ Oath, which he noted is modeled after the Hippocratic Oath, written by Hippocrates to remind those entering human medicine of their responsibilities. “The Veterinarians’ Oath is a solemn promise to serve the animal kingdom and society,” Dean Reed said.

The dean concluded the program by reminding the new graduates, “…you always have a place in the Purdue Veterinary Medicine family, and I look forward to seeing you back on campus often.”

A special thank you is in order for the Graduation Celebration Planning Committee of Dr. Jim Weisman, Amanda Taylor, Pam Phegley, and Susan Xioufaridou, as well as the following volunteers who helped with the ceremony: Mattison Floyd, Ashli Selke, Holly McCalip, Tanya Finkbiner, Josh Clark, Ben Shepard, Rebecca Hoffman, Deb Burrow, Carol Zink, Megan Brashear, Jeannine Henry, Jennifer Smith, Tami Lind, and Dr. Sanjeev Narayanan.

A gallery with a selection of photos from the Graduation Celebration is being prepared and information about how to access it will be provided at a later date.

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

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