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Monday, June 13, 2011

Veterinarians Networking Face to Face

Posted June 13, 2011
Written by Donald F. Smith, Cornell University

No sooner had the ink dried on 2,600 DVM diplomas for the veterinary students who graduated from U.S. colleges in 2011, than these same colleges started to welcome alumni/ae back to campuses for their five-year reunions. We at Cornell hosted our reunion June 9-11.

As a person who has always been interested in veterinary careers and the progression of student-to-professional, I like to talk to alumni of all ages to discover their secret of a lasting and fulfilling career. Last Saturday evening, I had the privilege to host the dinner for members of Cornell's Class of 1946. Now in their mid to late 80s, they talked with great passion about how their professors and practice mentors decades ago prepared them for a lifetime helping animals. Dr. Roger Batcheldor even credited the memory of his grandfather, an 1896 graduate of Harvard's veterinary college, as his inspiration.

The largest proportion of returning Cornell alumni this year were members of the Class of 1986. Dr. Janet Lipman, a small animal veterinarian and practice owner in New Jersey, echoed the feelings of many of her classmates,
"After 25 years of being scattered across the country, we spent our weekend like dear old friends. We rekindled friendships, sharing many wonderful memories of our time together and exchanging news of our families and careers. Though we have chosen many different career paths, I was especially struck by our continuing passion for veterinary medicine and the joy and satisfaction that my classmates experience as veterinarians. It is a wonderful profession!"

Dr. Lisa Freeman '86
Vice President, Northern Illinois University
Photo courtesy of N.I.U.

Also marking her 25th anniversary, Dr. Lisa Freeman’s career took her into academia where she now leads institutional research and graduate studies as vice president of Northern Illinois University. I interviewed Lisa as part of my blog series, “Careers for Veterinarians”, and she shared story after story about the value of her classmates in advancing and enriching her career. She has this advice for beginning veterinary students,
I tell veterinary students to look around the room during their first day of classes. Everyone who is sitting next to them is the start of their professional network and these relationships are to be valued. I really believe that and most people in the Class of 1986 agree because we have almost 40 people here at reunion.”
At whatever stage veterinarians are in their career progression, reaching out to network face to face with former classmates is important. And, when some of the networking occurs back on the campus of their alma mater, it creates enthusiasm among the faculty of the college and inspires the current students who see their energy and evidence of their fulfillment in being veterinarians.

Dr. Smith invites comments at