COLUMBIA — As a throng of gown-clad men and women raised their right hands and took an oath to protect animals, they marked the official end of their time as students and the beginning of their veterinary careers.
The 100-plus members of the MU College of Veterinary Medicine who graduated Friday afternoon now join the ranks of more than 99,000 veterinarians nationwide and will use skills learned at MU to practice veterinary medicine on both small and large animals.
These new veterinarians were the first of more than 5,300 MU students who will celebrate their graduation this weekend in ceremonies across campus.
Mark Summers, one of those new vets, will be joining a practice in Texas where he'll work mostly with dairy cattle. He said he will miss the people he's met while studying at MU but is happy to be moving forward from some of the challenges of vet school.
"Trying to balance school and family. I have two boys. I'd say that's been the toughest part, trying to balance it all."
Mathew Leggett, one of the onlookers who'd come to support the graduates, watched with pride as his sister, Becky Leggett, graduated. He said he never had a doubt that his sister would make it through the four-year journey.
Becky Leggett will go on to work near her hometown in Kansas with the veterinarian she shadowed during summers in high school. Working with him helped Becky Leggett realize her passion for veterinary medicine.
Friday's ceremony began at 1 p.m. in Jesse Auditorium with a speech given by Dr. Janet Donlin, CEO of the American Veterinary Medical Association Professional Liability Insurance Trust. Donlin reminisced about her history in the veterinary field and shared advice with the new members of her profession.
Donlin told the graduates that getting through the trials of veterinary medicine is one of the most difficult but important parts of success in the field.
Donlin encouraged all of the graduates, including those who don't have immediate post-graduation plans, to remember that receiving their diploma is not the end of their journey in veterinary medicine, but the beginning.
"Your dream job may not exist yet," Donlin said. "You may have to create it."
As the veterinarians crossed the stage, other graduating students prepared to follow suit. MU's commencement ceremonies continue through Sunday. The other ceremonies held Friday include:
- College of Education: 2 p.m. at Mizzou Arena
- College of Human Environmental Sciences: 5 p.m. at Hearnes Center
- Sinclair School of Nursing: 6 p.m. at Jesse Auditorium
- School of Journalism: 7:30 p.m. at Mizzou Arena
Saturday's ceremonies include:
- Honors ceremony: 8:30 a.m. at Mizzou Arena
- School of Medicine: Noon at Jesse Auditorium
- College of Engineering: 1 p.m. at Hearnes Center
- School of Health Professions: 4 p.m. at Mizzou Arena
- School of Natural Resources: 5:30 p.m. at Jesse Auditorium
- College of Arts and Science: 7 p.m. at Hearnes Center
Supervising editor is Edward Hart.