UArizona 'shaped me into a great veterinarian,' vet med grad says

University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine third-year student Jeremy Bessett

University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine graduating student Jeremy Bessett (left) works in the lab with his mentor, Sharon Dial, a veterinary pathologist at the college.

Courtesy of Jeremy Bessett

Jeremy Bessett knew he wanted to be a veterinarian more than 10 years ago, and soon he and about 100 of his classmates will celebrate as members of the University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine's first graduating class.

A lifelong Tucsonan, Bessett always dreamed of attending veterinary school in Arizona and jumped at the opportunity three years ago to be part of the college's inaugural class.

"I always loved animals, but we could never really afford to have any," Bessett said. "I met this vet who liked doing low-income work and helping the community, and so I wanted to see what it was all about. I really liked it. Even if I am not directly helping people, I think the reward is seeing how animals affect people's lives, and how important they are to so many people. Being able to help people – even indirectly – is very satisfying."

The College of Veterinary Medicine launched in 2020 and offers an innovative curriculum designed for students to complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in three years. Most veterinary medical programs in the United States require students to study and train at least four years. The college's inaugural graduation ceremony will take place Aug. 24 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Linda Ronstadt Music Hall at the Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave.

Like the rest of his classmates, Bessett prepares to embark on the next step of his veterinary medicine journey after graduation. He accepted a residency position in clinical pathology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.

University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine third-year student Jeremy Bessett

Jeremy Bessett and his cat, Sadie.

Courtesy of Jeremy Bessett

Bessett became interested in veterinary pathology, the study of animal diseases, during an undergraduate general pathology course at UArizona. Bessett credits Sharon Dial, a veterinary pathologist at the College of Veterinary Medicine, for first opening his eyes to a future career as a pathologist – a veterinarian who specializes in diagnosing animal diseases by examining samples such as tissues and fluids.

"At first, I thought I would be bored sitting in a lab looking at slides all day," Bessett said. "But after I met my mentor and got to know her and talk to her, I realized I could do this and realized it was fun, exciting (and) full of variety."

Bessett and Dial collaborated to create teaching materials and identify cases from the Office for Research, Innovation and Impact's Arizona Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for use in coursework. The diagnostic laboratory helps veterinarians, animal owners, university researchers, and state and federal agencies by analyzing specimen submissions from wild animals, exotic zoo animals, pets, horses and livestock.

"From the beginning, (Dial) and I developed this nice working relationship where we could get together and talk about what would be a good case, and different strategies for teaching because we're both interested in education," Bessett said. "There was a lot that we had in common that allowed us to work together really well."

While in Wisconsin, Bessett hopes to establish a connection between his new college and UArizona to create open-source teaching materials for veterinary students and future residents at both schools.

After completing his residency, Bessett hopes to return to UArizona as a professor while continuing to diagnose diseases in animals.

Wherever veterinary medicine takes him, Bessett said UArizona and the College of Veterinary Medicine prepared him for a successful future.

"When I go out and talk to people during my clinical year, a lot of the veterinarians ask how I've felt and how the university prepared me," he said. "I feel like I have been able to tell them, but also show them, that education has served me very well in all of my endeavors during my clinical year in developing me as a doctor. It's been a wonderful experience, and I have really enjoyed the philosophies of the school. I feel like it has shaped me into a great veterinarian."


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