First College of Veterinary Medicine class set to graduate

Students at a live dog lab

College of Veterinary Medicine students at a live dog lab.

Miles Fujimoto

The first University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine class is set to graduate next week. President Robert C. Robbins will confer 106 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees on Aug. 24.

The state's first and only public veterinary medicine program, launched in 2020, is unique in that the curriculum spans three years, unlike most traditional veterinary degree programs in the U.S., which are four years. The program design allows students to enter the workforce one year sooner.

Another distinct aspect of the program is that students interact with live animals from the very beginning, unlike conventional four-year programs, in which students often don't touch animals until their third year. This active-learning model gives students real-world experience in veterinary medicine from day one.

Students work with a feline patient

Students work with a feline patient.

Miles Fujimoto

"The three-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program, with its innovative curriculum, will help meet the demand for veterinarians both in state and nationally, paving the way for the University of Arizona to become a leader in veterinary medical education," Robbins said. "The first graduation ceremony for the College of Veterinary Medicine is a proud moment for the university, and these graduates have been well prepared to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people and animals throughout Arizona and beyond."

The college's inaugural Commencement is a major milestone for students and their loved ones, as well as the faculty and staff of the college, said Julie Funk, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. The first class also represents the success of the university and the many communities and stakeholders that have supported the college along the way, added Funk, who will deliver the Commencement keynote address.

The ceremony will take place at The Linda Ronstadt Music Hall at the Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave., from 5-7 p.m. on Aug. 24. The event will be livestreamed on Vimeo. The ceremony is open to anyone, and tickets are not necessary. However, RSVPs via the event website are strongly recommended.

Doors will open at 4 p.m., and seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Bags are allowed, provided they are clutches no larger than 8 inches by 5 inches or clear bags no larger than 14 inches by 16 inches. A complete list of restrictions can be found on the music hall website.

Graduating student Alexandria Lee Brown examines a pig.

Graduating student Alexandria Lee Brown examines a pig.

Miles Fujimoto

Additional speakers at the event will include Anthony Martin, associate professor of practice at the College of Veterinary Medicine, and graduating veterinary medicine student Arianna Adams, a first-generation college graduate.

Adams has been accepted into a yearlong small-animal internship at Gilbert Queen Creek Emergency Veterinarian & Pet Urgent Care in Phoenix's East Valley. As of July 1, more than 47% of College of Veterinary Medicine graduates have landed internships or jobs with corporations or private practices.

The graduates will specialize in various disciplines, including emergency and critical care, small-animal general practice, equine medicine, and mixed animal practice, which includes small and large animals.

Some of the in-state employers hiring College of Veterinary Medicine graduates include Jackpot Veterinary Center in Tucson, Canyon Pet Hospital in Flagstaff, and Yavapai Emergency Animal Hospital in Prescott Valley. Out-of-state employers include BluePearl pet hospitals in Georgia and Texas, VCA Animal Specialty & Emergency Center locations in California and Oregon, and Columbia Pike Animal Hospital & Emergency Center in Virginia.

"I am deeply grateful and excited to celebrate this milestone with the entire community," Funk said. "And I cannot wait to see what this inaugural class achieves as they move forward with their careers."

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