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UGA inducts 96 incoming veterinary students

UGA inducts 96 incoming veterinary students in White Coat Ceremony

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine welcomed the class of 2012 as part of its annual White Coat Ceremony held on Sunday, Aug. 17. Sponsored by the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association, this event officially recognized 96 members of the incoming class of 2012 by donning them in bright white lab coats to be worn during their veterinary education.

The hour-long ceremony was held in the Mahler Auditorium at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel. After the ceremony, Dr. Jim McClearen (DVM ’74), president of the GVMA, led the two-block recessional of coated students to the College of Veterinary Medicine for a class photo and a reception with their families and veterinary faculty and staff.

This year’s incoming class includes 72 women and 24 men, with an average undergraduate GPA of 3.56 and an average GRE score of 1179. This class also features a greater diversity of interests, including 32 percent of students pursuing a concentration in small animal medicine, 22 percent in mixed animal medicine, 15 percent in exotic, wildlife and zoological medicine, 10 percent in large animal medicine, 8 percent in research, 7 percent in equine medicine, 4 percent in food animal medicine, and 2 percent in public health. The previous two graduating classes have entered the veterinary profession with predominantly small animal and mixed animal interests (an approximate average of 39.5 percent and 13.5 percent, respectively), yet those figures continue to decrease as awareness is raised about the need for veterinarians in food safety and public health roles.

“We are encouraged by the increased diversity of interests in the class of 2012, particularly in the areas of food animal medicine, public health and research,” said Sheila W. Allen, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. “There is an ever-increasing demand for veterinarians in all areas in which we serve society, including protecting animal agriculture and the world’s food supply, maintaining the health of companion animals and fostering the human-animal bond, combating threats of bioterrorism, preserving wildlife resources, promoting a clean and healthy environment, and ensuring public health through the study, prevention, and control of infectious diseases. More than ever, it is important to have trained veterinarians in place who can meet these specialized demands.”

The College of Veterinary Medicine recently partnered with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to recruit high school students from rural areas of Georgia into the Food Animal Veterinary Incentive Program. Students interested in entering in rural practice have the opportunity to complete their bachelor’s degree in CAES, while preparing to continue their veterinary education at UGA. Students can apply for a federal loan forgiveness program that will repay their educational debt if they return to their rural communities to practice.

The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, founded in 1946, is dedicated to training future veterinarians, providing services to animal owners and veterinarians, and conducting investigations to improve the health of animals and people. The college benefits companion animals and their owners, food-producing animals and wildlife by offering the highest quality hospital and diagnostic laboratory services. The college enrolls 96 students each fall out of approximately 500 who apply and employs more than 130 faculty members.

The UGA College of Veterinary Medicine Class of 2012 is
Anne Abernethy of Atlanta, Ga.
Charlotte Akins of Elberton, Ga.
Jessica Anderson of Morgantown, W.Va.
Bradley Baker of Athens, Ga.
Tia Barksdale of Fairburn, Ga.
Michelle Beattie of Cartersville, Ga.
Alyssa Bender of Atlanta, Ga.
Amanda Bergren of Columbus, Ga.
Eboni Betts of Columbia, S.C.
Jennifer Bonovich of Columbia, S.C.
Amanda Brown of Cope, S.C.
Erin Burdette of Jackson, Ga.
William Burdette of Jackson, Ga.
Patricia Casteel of Atlanta, Ga.
Sarah Christopher of Conyers, Ga.
Derrick Colbert of Cornelia, Ga.
Joshua Cook of Marietta, Ga.
Melissa Dugan of Athens, Ga.
John Duncan of Atlanta, Ga.
Cassandra Dyal of Garden City, Ga.
Erika Elmore of Lilburn, Ga.
Jason Epstein of Charleston, S.C.
Kelsey Ericksen of Athens, Ga.
Debra Esco of Augusta, Ga.
Theresa Fike of Atlanta, Ga.
Heidi Fishman of Columbia, S.C.
Kendall Flynt of Lawrenceville, Ga.
Natalie French of Athens, Ga.
Samantha Freudenthal of Spartanburg, S.C.
Robert Gafnea of Whitesburg, Ga.
Michelle Garrison of Pendleton, S.C.
John Gholston of Dahlonega, Ga.
Justin Goldberg of Athens, Ga.
Shana Gross of Atlanta, Ga.
Amanda Haddix of Philippi, W.Va.
Rebecca Hancock of Ravenswood, W.Va.
Jeremy Hansford of Falling Waters, W.Va.
Jamie Harmon-Partido of Athens, Ga.
Jennifer Harper of Covington, Ga.
Brooke Herron of North Charleston, S.C.
Celine Higgins of Marietta, Ga.
Kate Holmberg of Athens, Ga.
Elizabeth Jobe of Roswell, Ga.
Rajesh Joshi of Lawrenceville, Ga.
Jaime Kim of Alpharetta, Ga.
Julie Kornder of Forest Park, Ga.
Jamie Laity of Atlanta, Ga.
Olivia Lamberth of Atlanta, Ga.
Kristina Lane of Athens, Ga.
Lindsey Lane of Lawrenceville, Ga.
Lauren LeBlanc of Savannah, Ga.
Denae LoBato of Ocean View, Del.
Laura Mackey of Fayetteville, Ga.
Katie Mann of Atlanta, Ga.
Alison McDaniel of Suwanee, Ga.
Virginia McDowell of Greer, S.C.
Joseph Meadows of Rome, Ga.
Edward Mills of Fort Gaines, Ga.
Jessica Mobley of Buford, Ga.
Kristen Moles of Augusta, Ga.
Kristie Moniz of Alpharetta, Ga.
Caroline Monk of Newark, DE
Alycia Monopoli of Lawrenceville, Ga.
John Moore of Waycross, Ga.
Trey Morrison of Leesburg, Ga.
Jordan Mracna of Seneca, S.C.
Jessica Murdock of Decatur, Ga.
Babak Najafi of Atlanta, Ga.
Kimberly O’Connor of Union Point, Ga.
J. M. Clay Phillips of Athens, Ga.
Danielle Pollio of Johns Creek, Ga.
Emily Poole of Alto, Ga.
Michaelle Purdee of Atlanta, Ga.
Catherine Ray of Marietta, Ga.
Laura Reber of Kingwood, W.Va.
Emily Reynolds of Lexington, S.C.
Claire Rice of Athens, Ga.
Joanne Rue of Athens, Ga.
Caroline Salter of Athens, Ga.
Geary Smith of Atlanta, Ga.
Helen Smith of Roswell, Ga.
Sean Stewart of Rock Hill, S.C.
Kelsey Strickland of Florence, S.C.
Sarah Taylor of St. Simons Island, Ga.
Candace Thrift of Westminster, S.C.
Jasmyn Virgo of Powder Springs, Ga.
Zachary Vrono of Marietta, Ga.
Grayson Wallace of Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
Linlei Ward of Kingstree, S.C.
Jennifer Weitzel of Peachtree City, Ga.
Carl Williams of Oglethorpe, Ga.
Joshua Winslow of Buckhannon, W.Va.
Amy Yanke of Landrum, S.C.
John Younker of Marietta, Ga.
Jessica Zeird of Rome, Ga.
Adrienne Zercher of Marietta, Ga.


Note to editors: A photo of the class of 2012 is available at