CVM Graduates 70
When James Gilkerson received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in what was the “new” Hearnes Center in 1974, his plan was to move to Mount Vernon, Mo., open a veterinary practice, and spend his career there. For nine years, that is what he did. But as the years passed, an awareness within himself grew that his plans had not taken him down a path that was right for him.
“I knew I needed to enjoy where I was, or change where I was,” he said. In search of greater career fulfillment, Gilkerson left the veterinary practice and took a job with a company developing cardiac rhythm devices for people with heart conditions. He now holds the title of distinguished corporate fellow and medical advisor for research and development at Boston Scientific Corp. “Every day I am working on something that hasn’t been done before. We’ve turned ideas into reality. That’s how I’ve satisfied my intellectual needs,” he said.
Gilkerson, who delivered the commencement address on May 11 to the MU College of Veterinary Medicine Class of 2012, advised the 70 graduates to evaluate their emotions with clinical detachment and find out what makes them feel good about themselves and be willing to embrace change.
“This above all: To thine own self be true,” he said, quoting Shakespeare.
In addition to following their hearts, he counseled the new veterinarians to develop a relationship with a confidante they trust, and to become skilled veterinarians. “A lot of patients need your help. You are their doctor. They didn’t choose to be patients, but you chose to be a doctor,” he said.
He also stressed the need to remain current with developments within the scientific community. “The things you learned in veterinary school, didn’t exist when I was in veterinary school.” He also asked them to give back by becoming leaders in their communities and sharing their knowledge.
Members of the Class of 2012 selected Michael Hupp to give a response on their behalf. Hupp began by describing his classmates as they were four years earlier in terms as if they were a clinical patient whose case he was describing. He went on to talk about the bonds that developed during their professional veterinary medicine education. He recounted how they had helped each other not only through academics, but also through life-threatening illnesses, childbirth, and even the loss of family members. He joked that the evidence of their closeness was demonstrated by the number of students who had married each other.
James Schuessler, president of the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association, led the graduates in reciting the Veterinarian’s Oath. Ron Cott, associate dean for Student and Alumni Affairs and director of Development, presented the graduating class for investiture, which was conducted by Joanne Kramer, associate teaching professor, Tim Evans, associate professor, and Linda Berent, interim associate dean for academic affairs. David Bradley, chairman of the UM Board of Curators conferred the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree to the class members.
Veterinarians completing internships, residencies and graduate programs at the CVM also received recognition during the ceremony.
CVM Dean Neil C. Olson, who served as the master of ceremonies, shared with the class a quote from George Washington Carver: “How far you go depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong—because someday you will have been all of these.”
He also acknowledged the support the students have received through the years by recognizing the parents, grandparents, other relatives, friends and mentors in the audience.
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