Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine recently recognized five alumni for service to the college and the veterinary profession.
The awards—one for young achiever and four for distinguished alumni—were presented by the Alumni Association of the College of Veterinary Medicine during the college’s 51st Annual Veterinary Conference and Alumni Weekend.
The association recognizes alumni contributions to animal and human health-related public service; involvement in the local community, state or nation, veterinary educational research and/or service and veterinary associations at various levels; contributions to the college’s alumni association; and professional service.
Young Achiever Award
Young Achiever Award nominees are selected from alumni who have graduated in the last 11 years, and Wesley Roach of Nashville, Tenn., received the young achiever award for 2014.
Roach graduated with his doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 2005 and is a veterinary surgeon at Nashville Veterinary Specialists, where he practices all aspects of veterinary surgery, including orthopedic, oncology, soft tissue and neurological.
In 2011, Roach established a fund to help provide surgery and after-care for injured homeless dogs and cats that have repairable injuries. Named after his dog, the Merle’s Angels Advised Fund has helped multiple animals undergo treatment for injuries, all of which later moved on to permanent homes. The fund can only send grants to other non-profit organizations, so all of the animals in the program are associated with local rescue agencies and non-profit groups.
While the fund will occasionally send small grants to other veterinarians in the area to provide routine surgeries for rescue animals, Roach performs the bulk of the surgeries at Nashville Veterinary Specialists. Most of the cases are strays hit by cars and brought into his practice’s emergency clinic or calls for help from local shelter veterinarians and rescue groups that contact Roach through the Merle’s Angels Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/merles.angels.
Distinguished Alumni Awards
Esco Hall Jr. bought a mixed-animal veterinary practice in Baxley a week after he graduated from the college in 1973 and has been a pillar of his community since.
Described by his nominators as “not ego-driven or attention-seeking,” “quiet, confident and rather unassuming” and “a man of great ethics and character,” Hall is known as a man who helps others.
“He gives of himself to all segments of the community—regardless of age, race or social status—and is truly respected by all,” one nominator noted. “Dr. Hall is a genuine credit to his profession.”
Since 1982, Hall has served Baxley as a city councilman and, since 1997, as its mayor pro tem. He has been part of the Appling County Development Authority, the Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Commission and its predecessors and the Georgia Secretary of State Advisory Board on Rural Development. From 1979 to 1997, he was president of the Appling County Branch of the NAACP; from 1980 to 1996, he served as president and secretary of the Progressive Club. He has been active in his local Chamber of Commerce, 100 Black Men of Southeast Georgia and numerous other organizations. He has owned and operated the Appling Animal Hospital since 1973, and the Baxley Funeral Home since 1991.
Hall has received multiple awards through the years, including Leadership of the Year 2009 from 100 Black Men of Southeast Georgia, Citizen of the Year 1991 from the Emancipation Proclamation Committee and Outstanding Leadership Award for 1987 and Man of the Year for 1982, both from the NAACP.
Susan M. LaRue is a professor of radiation oncology in the Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, where she teaches undergraduates, doctor of veterinary medicine students and graduate students and trains residents in radiation oncology.
After earning her doctor of veterinary medicine degree from UGA in 1977, LaRue became a partner in a companion animal practice in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. She left in 1982 to enter a small animal internship at UGA, followed by a surgical residency at Colorado State University. She joined CSU as a research associate in 1989 and by 1992 was an assistant professor of radiation oncology.
During her early years at CSU, LaRue earned a master’s degree in clinical sciences in 1986 and a doctoral degree in radiation biology in 1992 with a focus on tumor cell kinetics in canine osteosarcoma and lymphoma. Today her research focuses on experimental therapeutics and tumor microenvironment using the canine spontaneous tumor model.
LaRue has served on numerous committees within her department, teaching hospital, college and the campus at large. In 2003, she joined the Faculty Council Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics and has been chair since 2007.
LaRue is board certified by both the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and the American College of Veterinary Radiology in the specialty of radiation oncology. She was a charter diplomate of ACVR’s radiation oncology specialty and has served as president of that organization.
Jan Sosnowski Nichol graduated with her doctor of veterinary medicine degree in 1980, and in the decade following her graduation from the college, she earned certificates in both large animal medicine and large animal surgery at the University of Guelph. In 1986, she founded Delmarva Equine Clinic. She has grown Delmarva from a solo practice to a five-veterinarian clinic and recently oversaw a second renovation to the facility—which is now 8,500 square feet and grosses $3 million annually.
Many members of her clinic staff have been with her more than 15 years. With their help, she works with a variety of students and others to provide foster care for animals in need and to sponsor underprivileged families during the holiday season.
In her local community, Sosnowski Nichol participates in school career days and has organized fundraisers to benefit the Kent County SPCA, the Wicomico Hunt Club and other organizations. She travels to retirement homes to perform low-cost examinations and vaccinations for seniors who have difficulty transporting their pets. She also ran her husband’s mayoral campaign for two successful elections.
She has been an active member of the Delaware Veterinary Medical Association since 1982 and has lobbied on behalf of association at the state level. She has served on state committees to address dangerous dogs as well as pet overpopulation in Delaware. She also has appeared before state and local legislative bodies to discuss issues such as animal regulation, gambling/horseracing legislation and controlled substance regulations.
For the Delaware Veterinary Medical Association, she has served as vice president, president-elect, president and in other capacities and for 10 years served as either the association’s delegate or alternate delegate to the American Veterinary Medical Association House of Delegates. In 2009, she was awarded the DVMA Veterinarian of the Year award.
Sosnowski Nichol has served on the board of the UGA veterinary alumni association since 2010, and she is the liaison to the college for students from Delaware.
Gary Brown graduated from UGA in 1984, and throughout his career, he has taken an active interest in the education of young people. He has served on multiple boards for high schools and colleges, including 16 years on the veterinary technician program board for Fairmont State College, and 22 years on the board of a vocational program for nurses. For multiple years, he has served as a judge for the West Virginia State Science and Engineering Fair.
His service as a mentor to veterinary students in the Virginia-Maryland region earned him 2013 Mentor of the Year awards from the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Also in 2013, he was named the West Virginia VMA’s Veterinarian of the Year.
He has been an extremely active member of the West Virginia Veterinary Medical Association and has served as its president, regional representative and president-elect; on multiple committees; and, for seven years, as its delegate to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s House of Delegates.
In 2008, he was elected as vice president of the AVMA and served two terms. Currently, he serves as the District V representative to the AVMA Executive Board, which encompasses the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia. His term expires in July 2019.
UGA College of Veterinary Medicine
The UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, founded in 1946, is dedicated to training future veterinarians, conducting research related to animal and human diseases and providing veterinary services for animals and their owners. Research efforts are aimed at enhancing the quality of life for animals and people, improving the productivity of poultry and livestock and preserving a healthy interface between wildlife and people in the environment they share. The college enrolls 102 students each fall out of more than 900 who apply. For more information, see www.vet.uga.edu.
The current UGA College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital, built in 1979, serves more than 22,500 patients a year in one of the smallest teaching hospitals in the U.S. The college is currently building a new Veterinary Medical Learning Center, which will include a new teaching hospital as well as classrooms and laboratories that will allow for the education of more veterinarians.