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Awards and Honors

Class of 2023 Oath & Hooding: ‘Your Path Has Been Unlike Any Other’

The celebratory Oath and Hooding Ceremony for the new doctors who started the rigorous four years in fall 2019 was punctuated with COVID references.

Taking the Veterinarian's Oath
Taking the Veterinarian's Oath

For the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine Class of 2023, memories of maneuvering through the COVID-19 pandemic will always be intertwined with surviving the first anatomy lab, third-year finals and fourth-year clinical rotations.

As Dr. Laura Nelson, associate dean and director of Academic Affairs, pointed out Friday evening at the Oath and Hooding Ceremony for the new doctors of veterinary medicine, members of this class, which started the rigorous four years in fall 2019, will be the last to have experienced what it was like to be a veterinary student before a global pandemic.

“Your path has been unlike any other class, and you’ve navigated it with grace and persistence,” she told the 93 DVM students and several Ph.D. and master’s of comparative biomedical sciences graduates. “I am so proud of you. I’m so grateful to call you colleagues.”

A video of the Oath and Hooding Ceremony

Dr. Mathew Gerard, a professor of veterinary anatomy who was selected by the Class of 2023 to give the faculty address, also made reference to the pandemic by donning a wig to illustrate how he let his hair grow during the quarantining that began in March 2020, the second semester for these students.

“In August 2019, none of us were thinking about SARS-CoV-2,” Gerard said. “What a heck of a four years it’s been. Look at you know. But you got it done. And you got it done during unprecedented and incredibly difficult times. That is worth a cheer.”

Dr. Mathew Gerard explained he let his hair grow and go during COVID quaratining.
Dr. Mathew Gerard explained he let his hair grow and go during COVID.

Gerard recalled how, after students were sent home in spring 2020 because of COVID, everyone thought they’d be back on campus after spring break.

“That didn’t happen,” said Gerard, who was not a fan of Zoom lecturing. “Suddenly we had a scramble to produce an online curriculum for the rest of that semester.”

In addition to COVID, mental health care was a theme for the evening as several speakers encouraged graduates to set taking care of themselves as a priority.

To that end, Gerard recommended three books to the new doctors: “Breath: The New Science of Lost Art” by James Nestor, “The Power of Strangers: The Benefits of Connecting With a Suspicious World” by Joe Keohane and “The Good Life: Lessons from the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness” by Robert Waldinger and Marc Schulz.

Find a gallery of hooding photos here.

If you had to make one life choice right now to set yourself on a path to future health and happiness, what would it be, Gerard asked in reference to the last book. The singular thing that stands out as a predictor of happiness, according to the authors, is the cultivation of meaningful relationships.

“That is my wish for you this evening, Class of 2023, to intentionally live the good life and rock out your veterinary degree while you’re doing it,” Gerard said.

New Dr. Gabe Steinman, Class of 2023, introduced Dr. Lysa Posner, assistant dean, and Dr. Karyn Harrell, assistant clinical professor, who hooded the new doctors. Dr. Ed Faulkner, president of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association and a 2007 NC State DVM graduate, administered the Veterinarian’s Oath to his newest colleagues.

Dr. Alexis Roach greets her family at the Oath and Hooding Ceremony at Reynolds Coliseum on the main NC State University Campus.

In her speech, Class President Morgen Dugan said it had been a little touch and go during the pandemic as to whether she’d be standing there Friday.

“Looking back on the past four years, we’ve been through several lessons of a lifetime, from curriculum turnover to a global pandemic to several human rights catastrophes for people of color and women of our community,” she said. “We’ve mourned, we’ve fought, we’ve quarantined, and we’ve stood together for so much more than just our DVMs.”

In closing the event, Dean Kate Meurs offered the Class of 2023 three parting thoughts, one being that wherever these graduates are headed now won’t necessarily be where they are five years from now.

“Veterinary medicine is an amazing profession of limitless opportunities,” Meurs said. “Your degree prepares you to practice clinical medicine, perform biomedical research, contribute to global health and assist with an epidemic that crosses species.”

She also told the graduates that they would, for the rest of their lives, be NC State graduates, an elite group but also a tight family. 

“And seek happiness as much as you can,” she said. “Happiness is one of the key aspects of having a great life. Don’t dwell on things that didn’t go well and that you can’t change. Trust you did the very best you could in an imperfect world.”

The Class of 2023
The Class of 2023

The Veterinarian’s Oath

Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.