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Harrogate—Lincoln Memorial University President E. Clayton Hess conferred the degrees of the 120 members of the LMU-College of Veterinary Medicine’s class of 2021 during spring commencement exercises in Tex Turner Arena on Saturday, May 22.

Dr. Kemba Marshall, director of Veterinary Services for the Land O’ Lakes Purina Animal Nutrition Center, delivered the commencement address. During her speech she encouraged students to focus on mindset, matter and moments.

“Your mindset will determine what your career in veterinary medicine will be,” Marshall said. “Each of you made up your minds that you were going to become veterinarians. Storms came and obstacles came, bringing about fear and doubt. What you said to yourself is that, ‘My mind is made up. I will graduate come what may.’ And just like that here you are. You are graduating this day from vet school!”

Marshall reminded students that they were now representing all of those who have ever taken the veterinary oath.

“Veterinarians are consistently one of the most trusted professions in the United States. Why is that? Because of compassion, concern and consideration we have for the animals we care for and the public we serve.” Marshall said. “Why does that matter? It matters because today you join me in the ranks of the veterinary profession. You will be the only veterinarian that many individuals will ever encounter. Your actions will illustrate what veterinary medicine will look like.”

Closing her speech, Marshall told the graduates this was day one of their career, reminded them that they are confident and competent, and emboldened them to go be great.

A number of special awards were bestowed. The Distinguished Service Medal was awarded to Dr. Randy Evans for his lifelong dedication to serving LMU and the surrounding community. Dean Stacy Anderson also recognized VCA Animal Hospitals with the Distinguished Clinical Affiliate Award in recognition of the vital role the clinical partner played in preparing LMU-CVM graduates to be career ready veterinarians. Dr. Anthony Guerino, regional medical director of VCA, accepted the award on their behalf.

In the dean’s charge to the graduates, Anderson reminded the students of the beginning of their journey the moment they first stepped foot on campus.

“If you remember back to the summer of 2017, you were moving to the Harrogate. You were probably impressed with the beautiful scenery and campus – I still am to this day – and learned about all of the amazing outdoor activities you could do in your spare time,” Anderson said. “Little did you know that spare time would be a thing of the past!”

Anderson reminded the students of the hard work they had put in since their journey began and the feeling they had when they first received their white coat. Anderson emphasized that each semester presented its own unique challenges that strengthened the resilience needed as they completed their final year.

“Then the world came screeching to halt on March 13, 2020, as a pandemic raged and changed our world,” Anderson. “You finished your pre-clinical curriculum virtually and even took a virtual OSCE! Then you proceeded into clinical year where you again took virtual rotations. Despite all of this, your class performed very well. I have full confidence that you are now ready to enter the veterinary profession.”

During the rollcall of conferees, the class of 2021 was called by name and presented with diplomas. At the conclusion of the ceremony, Dr. Julie Hunt, associate dean of Clinical Sciences, led the newly minted Doctors of Veterinary Medicine in The Veterinary Oath.

Each year, LMU-CVM commissions select degree candidates into the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. Leading the commissioning service was Dr. Bess Pierce, associate dean of Student Affairs and Admissions. Kylie Smith and Mary Helen Wilson were both commissioned into the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps. Victoria Orlando was recognized for her service in the U.S. National Guard, which included two deployments while a student at LMU-CVM.

Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The LMU-College of Veterinary Medicine is located on LMU’s main campus in Harrogate, with additional academic facilities in nearby Lee County, Virginia.