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Class of 2012 trail-blazing veterinary medicine in Alberta

SUCCESS Four years ago, 30 students embarked on a journey that marked a new chapter in Alberta’s academic history

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On May 10, the very first graduating class of veterinarians trained at the University of Calgary faculty of veterinary medicine held their convocation. The four-year DVM program began in 2008 and its arrival on to the Canadian academic scene made it the fifth veterinary program in the nation, and the only one in Alberta.

The faculty was so new when the students began, that its very infrastructure didn’t exist yet.

On May 9, the department hosted a Celebrate the Future event, which showcased just how far and fast the faculty has come. “That was basically introducing the facilities because the facilities weren’t even built at the beginning of the program at our Spy Hill campus,” said Brooke Hunter, media relations adviser for the University of Calgary.

Thirty new doctors of veterinary medicine graduated from the program, and half had already secured employment by convocation day.

“There was a demand for it here in Alberta,” said Hunter. Half of the hired grads will be working in rural Alberta. Some of the new veterinarians will be going into the research field, while others will be working in a clinic setting. “When I got into the program I felt like I had won the lottery,” said Katherine Sparkman, one of the newly graduated vets. Melissa Tannahill, another graduate, was equally enthusiastic. “I feel so proud and honoured to be a part of this new school. I feel ready to be a veterinarian,” she said.

The class of 2012 will be a tough act to follow — 100 per cent of the students passed the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination on their first attempt, beating the average of 90 to 95 per cent. “We are really proud of our students. Their success is due to the commitment and expertise of our many partners in the veterinary community as well as our outstanding faculty and staff,” said Alastair Cribb, the dean of veterinary medicine.

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