Dear 2020 Veterinary School Graduate,

Congratulations on achieving your doctorate degree! While your graduation ceremony has been impacted, rest assured that the profession embraces you and needs you now more than ever. My hope is that you realize all you have achieved and that you feel an unbound sense of pride at this milestone moment. I hope you share that pride with the loved ones who supported you on this long, laborious journey. Parents, spouses, siblings, friends may not be able to watch you receive a degree but are certain to pause and reflect on all you did to make your dream come true. 

Thirty-five years ago, I received my VMD (yes, I’m one of those) and barely remember the actual day. What I do remember quite clearly is the first time I felt I saved a life, the first time a client sent me a note of gratitude, the countless times seeing an excited child ask a multitude of questions about their new puppy, kitten, guinea pig, or the elderly client whose only companion was their rapidly aging pet look to me with hope. I remember the new doctors to whom I was able to pass on some of my learnings about the art of practice, the colleagues I turned to when I had a patient I couldn’t help or had to euthanize, the camaraderie of seeing former classmates even after years had passed. All these moments are the most important milestones you will soon experience. 

While your graduation is perhaps not what you hoped, please know you have so many wonderful experiences ahead. You know our profession is not perfect and that there will be times of stress, frustration, and despair.  he best advice I can give is to realize we are a small profession, yet you are never alone. I have often said that we value life in a way much of the world doesn’t understand, let alone respect. Rest assured there is always another veterinarian to listen, advise, and lift you up. Be brave and ask for help, it is there to be had. 

Congratulations doctor and go forth to save the world! We’re counting on you.

Best wishes,

George Melillo