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the NEWS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
Find usaon age
For one-time Eclipse Award winner and former jockey Ramon Perez, greatest achievement is education
Ramon Perez is shown riding Prado's Mystique to a win at Canterbury Park in Minnesota on July 3, 2000. The 1 1/16 mile race on turf carried a $13,000 purse. Perez rode in Minnesota for a summer after years on the NewYork
BY SARAH CAREY
W hen the TV series "Jockeys" ran on Animal Planet two years ago, senior
University of Florida veterinary student Ramon Perez was quite the hot
commodity with his classmates. That's because for a three-year window in
the 1990s, Perez himself was one of the biggest names in Thoroughbred horse racing.
"My classmates usually ask me things like, 'what's it like,' or 'what's this mean,'" said
Perez, now 32 and preparing for an internship at an equine practice near Sydney, Australia. "If
you see a TV show for one afternoon, it can be confusing."
In 1995 alone, Perez raked in more than $4.6 million in purses, competing on the tough
New York circuit. That year, at 18 years of age, Perez received the prestigious Eclipse Award for
best apprentice jockey after falling three votes short of winning the same award a year earlier.
The late John Harrell, a highly regarded columnist for the Thoroughbred Times and
Louisville Courier Journal, wrote that the Perez' performance riding Northern Emerald in the
1995 Flower Bowl may have been Perez's "defining moment of the season."
"Known as a patient rider who often comes in from off the pace though he prefers to
place his horses in a stalking position Perez brought Northern Emerald from far back, coming
from 3 1/2 lengths back in midstretch to win by a length over Danish'" Harrell wrote. "It was a
special victory for Perez, since the 6-year-old mare is trained by (Bill) Mott and owned by
Hiram C. Polk, Jr. and David Richardson, longtime clients of Mott."
"It was the most special race of the year for me, because it was for Mr. Mott and those
gentlemen," said Perez, who was associated with Mott's stable because his stepfather, Tim
Jones, was Mott's assistant trainer.
"We were tough to beat," Perez said. "We had great horses; we won Breeders Cups and
even as a kid, before I could ride, I had access to some of the most well bred horses in the
Mott, who is generally regarded as one of America's best trainers, said he remembered
escorting Perez around one morning on one of the first Thoroughbreds he got to gallop. He also
remembers taking him to one of the small training tracks at Saratoga Race Course, where Perez
rode well, "whether it was a good race or a bad race."
"It was satisfying for me to put somebody on a horse and go with them and have them
do so well from the beginning," Mott said. "He won a Grade 1 stake for us at Belmont (the
1995 Flower Bowl) when he still had the apprentice allowance, which was quite unusual, but
that just shows the confidence I had in him, number one, and number two, the confidence that
he had in himself to win a race like that."
Perez won the first two races he ever rode in, at Churchill Downs on a filly named Alittle
Grace and a gelding named Brief the Chief. He raced and won at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and
Saratoga Race Course while on the New York circuit.
Perez's pink apprentice jockey certificate contains his hand-written record of wins with
dates, tracks and horses, beginning with Alittle Grace in 1994. A 1997 New York Racing
Association calendar shows Perez grinning in a group shot of some of the other best jockeys in
the sport, including Hall of Famer's Pat Day, Mike Smith, Julie Krone, John Velasquez, Jery
Bailey and others.
Smith was Perez's idol. The "Jockeys" star, who won the Kentucky Derby in 2005 on
Giacomo and recently placed third on Jackson Bend in the Preakness Stakes, said Perez was
like a son to him in the jockey room.
"He had a very short, but a great career," Smith said. "He was just a great kid, and re-
spected. But we had a lot of fun. He was so naive; he'd believe anything you told him. It was
always 'yes sir' and 'no sir."'
Disney Adventures, a children's magazine, featured then-17-year-old Perez in an article
titled "Horse Sense," describing him as one of the country's best young jockeys. Encased in a
plastic sleeve is his jockey trading card, full of career statistics used for autograph-signing
sessions or in bicycle spokes of countless collectors.
Because of his longtime association with Mott's stable and family ties to the industry his
father, also named Ramon Perez, was a jockey who rode at numerous racetracks in the Midwest
and along the East Coast in the 1970s Perez gained access and valuable connections.
"I worked 12 hours days when I was 10 years old," Perez said. "You couldn't get me away
from the horses."
He worked his way up, from hotwalker to groom to exercise rider. Perez learned everything
there was to know and was always hungry to learn more. At 14, he was galloping horses on the
track which, he admits, was technically illegal.
"You're supposed to be 18 and have a license to ride in New York, but because I grew up
on those tracks, everyone knew me and no one would put me in a spot where I was on a bad
horse," Perez said.
In those days, track security would visit the stable to ensure compliance. When that
happened, his parents would put him in the car, or he'd go hide out in the barn.
"I couldn't be seen as an employee," he said.
As a groom, he mucked out stalls, cleaned water buckets and was "basically in charge of the
horse's well being," Perez said. "You're a mini-trainer; you have to check for subtle changes in
theirjoints. I remember Bill and my stepdad would look at the legs of every single horse each
morning before training. They instilled in me the whole physical exam thing, although I didn't
know it at the time."
All his experience doing various jobs in the barn contributed to Perez's almost uncanny
sense of being able to understand the subtleties of each animal.
"It's similar to vet med"' Perez said. "The clinicians tell you to look at the whole horse
before you even examine what is wrong. Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stephens, who starred in
the movie Seabiscuit, once said to me that a trainer caught him looking down at the legs in the
paddock and told him, 'son, don't look down at the legs. You'll never let him run if you do."'
A jockey's job is to ride fast, Perez said.
"But if you don't know anything more than that, you're losing the whole connection and
you might not recognize the subtleties you should be picking up on."
See Perez, p.4
A trip to the zoo
(see full story on CVM's VOICE club on p.8)
Clinical program coordinator receives prestigious
universitywide Superior Accomplishment Award
VOICE member Santiago Diaz visits with one of the young people who visited the Santa Fe zoo May 1
during a trip VOICE members made available to them free of charge.
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M egan Elliot, a clinical programs coordinator at the UF College of Veterinary
Medicine's Small Animal Hospital, received one of the university's highest
honors this year as a recipient of the Willis HRH Employee Recognition Award.
Sponsored by Willis HRH of Gainesville, winners of the award received a
commemorative plaque and $1,000.
One letter nominating Elliot for the award cited her "persistence and dedication to
her employees and her responsibilities." Elliot was instrumental in developing the
career ladder test to allow the promotion of veterinary technicians.
Winners were honored April 21 at a ceremony held at the Reitz Union.
Members of a Gainesville youth program were treated to a trip to the Santa Fe Zoo May 1 by members of
the CVM's VOICE club recently. Here, the group listens to VOICE club members talk about what to
expect during the zoo visit.
Commencement exercises for the Class of 2010 are May 29
Commencement exercises for the UF CVM's Class of 2010 will be held at 2 p.m. at
the UF Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
The DVM's Distinguished Award winners will also be honored during the ceremony,
and the class selected Dr. Michael Schaer, professor of emergency medicine and critical
care and special assistant to the dean, to deliver the commencement address.
A reception will be held at the Touchdown Terrace following the ceremony.
Veterinary student takes top award in category for research
presentation at American Heartworm Society meeting
S sophomore veterinary student Kiri Dunn received top honors for the best
research poster presentation by a resident or student at the 13th Trienniel
Symposium of the American Heartworm Society, held in Memphis on
April 17. L
Dunn's research project, titled "Heartworm Testing, Treatment and Prevention -
Protocols for Cats in Animal Shelters," was conducted last summer during a research
fellowship with Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program at UF and the Merck Merial
"Kiri's research showed that animal shelters are struggling to meet the needs of
cats in terms of heartworm prevention and diagnosis," said Julie Levy, D.VM., Ph.D.,
the Maddie's Professor of Shelter Medicine at UF. "She found that although some
shelter managers were confused about the risk of heartworm infections in cats, most
wanted to do more, even though they felt constrained by the costs associated with
meeting the guidelines recommended for pet cats."
Levy added that Dunn's research documented that there is a compelling need for
humane agencies, veterinarians and industry representatives to work together to better
meet the needs of the 3-4 million cats that enter animal shelters each year.
Dunn's classmate, Kathleen Colby, was also recognized for her outstanding..
research relating to canine protocols in animal shelters.
Kiri Dunn, at center in white coat, is surrounded by her family members following the Professional Coating
Ceremony on May 6.
Members of the Class of 2012 were honored May
6 at the CVM's traditional Professional Coating
Ceremony, held at UF's Phillips Center for the
Performing Arts. The ceremony acknowledges
completion of the first two years of veterinary
school, and provides an opportunity for students
to be presented by their mentors with the new
white coats that symbolize the students' transition
into clinical rotations.
Dr. Ray Mobley assists Megan Brown with donning her new white coat.
Morgan Menasco, left, exits the stage followed by her coat presenter, Dr. Rick Alleman.
Eric Hostnik, right, is pictured with his parents following the coating ceremony.
Jared Jaffey, center, with his mom at left and Dr. Heather VVamsley, his coat presenter.
Bo Rainbow, second from right, is shown with his coat presenter, Dr. Kevin Anderson, second from left,
and Bo's parents following the coating ceremony.
Dr. Moody McCall, one of the coat presenters, shakes Dr. Jim Kanzler's hand as he exits the stage with
Sloane, a service dog in training.
PEREZ, FROM P.1
Around the college
Physiological sciences professor is
founding editor-in-chief of new
D r. Paul Davenport, professor of
physiological sciences at the UF CVM,
has been selected to serve as founding editor-
in-chief of a new professional journal.
The journal, Frontiers in Respiratory
Physiology, is an international, free-access
publication that is part of a family of Frontiers
journals dealing with physiology. However,
there are only two other respiratory physiology-
specific journals, Davenport said.
"I am assembling the editorial team and
wrote the mission statement," he said. "It's
exciting to make this new informational outlet
for those working in this area."
Davenport said the journal would begin
accepting articles in June or July with a
projected first publication due out by October
of this year.
"It is a lot of fun to lay the foundation of a
new journal, and I have a great group of
associate editors working with me on this
Dr. Paul Davenport
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D rs. Carlos Risco and Claus Buergelt recently returned from a four-day trip to
Risco, a professor of food animal medicine and reproduction, and Buergelt, a
professor emeritus of anatomical pathology, were invited to conduct a continuing
education course in bovine reproduction at the University of Uruguay's College of
Risco and Buergelt, along with Dr. Robert Gibson, a professor of large animal
medicine at Cornell University, lectured to bovine practitioners, graduate and
veterinary students, and in addition, conducted wet labs.
The group's host was Professor Daniel Cavestany, of the veterinary faculty's
department of reproduction, University of Uruguay, Montevideo.
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Perez's stellar rise to the top ranks of
Thoroughbred racing came at a price,
however. He struggled to keep his weight
down but there was only so much he could do
to stop his natural growth progression.
After three years of intense riding, Perez
retired and did something he'd always wanted
to do more of and never had time to he
traveled. He backpacked in Europe, and
worked in Dubai and England, where he rode
briefly at a stable owned by Sheik
"My problem was, I started at the top and
there is very little availability to ride when you
start that high," Perez said. "My career wasn't
going as well as it used to be."
He returned to Florida, where his parents
spent the winters, and finished a year of
community college. His mother knew he
wasn't happy and told him he should return to Ramon Perez, shown in one of three jockey cards that
riding if that's where his passion was. were issued in his name.
"So I started at Tampa Bay Downs and t
had an exceptional first season there,' Perez --
said. "I was in the top 10 and won like 30
races. My goal was never to go back to the big
tracks but to stay at smaller tracks and have
fun, to remember why I was riding and why I
Perez left Tampa to ride the summer in
Minnesota, where his mother is from, and ,
rode for a few more months until facing the
fact he was physically and emotionally
drained due to extreme weight loss.
Some days, Perez would lose as much as 8
pounds a day in water weight by sweating in a
"hot box" a sauna or a steam room,
taking laxatives, not eating or drinking;
whatever it took to make weight to compete.
On good days, he might only have to shed 2 to -
Perez's "aha moment" was March 26," .. i
2001 at a small Arizona track where he was
scheduled to ride the first and last races of the
day, with six and a half hours in between. He r'. -
won the first race, which paid him a mere Ramon Perez approaches the racetrack at the
$180. Perez, all 114 pounds of him, was $100,000 Emerald Stakes, a 1 1/16 mile race on
miserable. grass in 2000. Hie won the race on his mount, PD.
"I completely didn't care' Perez said. "I Lucky.
had to sit in the jock's room and I couldn't eat
or drink because I had to make weight for the last race. I just wanted a sip of Gatorade. So I sat
in my cubby, and I said, 'I'm done.' After I won that race at 12: 30 p.m., I took off."
Soon after Perez left the track, his grandmother asked him what he planned to do with his
life. Perez said he had no idea.
"She said my grandfather always wanted me to go to college and thought I was smart
enough to pursue an education," Perez said.
He applied to and was accepted at Arizona State University, where he spent a year before
transferring back to Gainesville to finish his AA degree at Santa Fe College. He went on to
complete his bachelor's degree in history the discipline his grandfather had been a professor
in at UF and subsequently took prerequisite courses to apply to veterinary school.
"My grandfather and I both loved history]' Perez said. "He used to tell me he'd seen so
many people go through classes, majoring in something they didn't really enjoy because they
thought it would pay them the most. He told me the kids that actually succeeded the most
majored in things they loved."
Perez's back-up plan was to do a master's degree in history and pursue that interest if he
didn't get into veterinary school.
"A lot of our students major in animal science and that's a great degree, but I felt I already
had so much horse experience that I wanted to study something that would make me better or
different:' he said.
Veterinary school was a challenge, but Perez was used to overcoming the odds. Before he
became one of the most successful jockeys working in the 1990s, some people told him he'd
never ride because he'd be too big. Even one of the stories in his scrapbook carries the headline,
"Growing up Bugs Perez." It was a play on words, as apprentice jockeys are known in the
business as bug boys.
The story, by Bill Finley of the New York Daily News, starts off:
"He is just 17 and wonders if his best days are behind him. That's the way it is when the
body might outgrow the job."
The article goes on to call Perez "the most successful apprentice to ride in New York since
the days of Wesley Ward, who won everything in sight in 1984 and 1985."
One award Perez is proudest of, however, is his General Educational Development certifi-
cate, which he calls his "badge of honor." He received the GED, a high school equivalency
diploma, after dropping out of secondary school to pursue his jockey career.
"I always felt like I probably wasn't smart enough," he said. "I struggle with learning from
books, but if you show me and teach me hands-on, I'm much better."
After he receives his D.VM. degree, Perez will head for Randwick Equine Center outside
of Sydney, Australia. He performed an externship there and liked the opportunities he saw in
surgery, lameness cases and even an ambulatory racetrack practice.
"My upbringing was unique in that we traveled every three months with the horses'," Perez
See Perez, p. 5
Ramon Perez, left, and his friend, Chad Anderson, who later became his agent, make their way to the unsaddling
area after a race.
PEREZ, FROM P4
said. "I moved to 12 different schools at least when I was a kid, so the idea of picking up and
moving has never been an issue."
He hopes his next adventure will help him decide whether to pursue a residency in surgery
and perhaps continue on with a career that would take him back to the horse business as a
racetrack veterinarian. Perez admits that not a day goes by, particularly during racing season,
that he doesn't miss the thrill of riding.
Hall of Fame trainer Mott said that he knew Perez might feel he was shorted on his opportu-
nity to continue his riding career due to the size of his body
"He put up a good battle, but I think he will grow to appreciate and love what he's doing,"
Mott said. "I think when you ride horses, it's such a special bond that you create with the
Drew Scarborough, left, and classmate Ramon Perez are shown during the senior exit luncheon on April 27.
animal. Just having the challenge to get along with each and every horse that you get on and
learning their characteristics and how to get them to do their best. It's a satisfying experience
when you know you've done a good job at it, but I think he'll have to appreciate the animal
from another perspective."
After Perez stopped riding, now a decade ago, it was three years before he could even go
near a racetrack. He tries to remember his love for horses, focus on the fact that he won with his
final mount, and remind himself he still has time to figure out the rest of his life.
"When you boil it down, I rode for a year at small tracks for very little money and I loved
basically everything from the gate to the wire," Perez said. "All the other stuff, the political
stuff, you have to jump through hoops. But once I got to the gate, it was me and the horse and
my instincts. It's a fun game at that point and that was what I loved about it."
Graduating senior spreads new professional wings with veterinary future
BY SARAH CAREY
Kelli Marlar gets by on more than just a wing and a prayer. As someone who worked
19 years as an air traffic controller in Miami and is a licensed pilot with instrument
rating, Marlar was no stranger to hard work and responsibility. Yet she couldn't
sacrifice professional employment just to go to school even veterinary school.
When Marlar, now 46, finally was admitted to UF's College of Veterinary Medicine in
2005 after several previously unsuccessful attempts, she was ecstatic. Becoming a veterinarian
was her ultimate goal and dream.
"I had taken the prerequisites and volunteered at Hollywood Animal Hospital for four
years," she said.
She rented out her house in Pembroke Pines and moved upstate to Gainesville, where she
had arranged for a work transfer from Miami to Gainesville. She worked full time at
Gainesville Regional Airport her first two years of veterinary school.
"I'm a person who has to be on the go all the time, and I actually really enjoyed being an
air traffic controller," Marlar said. "However, I felt there was a void in my life, and I wanted to
go back to school."
What she found at UF was a different language, and a program that requires memorization
as well as analytical skills. Memorizing classroom material was difficult, whereas Marlar both
in her work life and as a physics major in undergraduate school at Florida International
University was used to aviation terms and problem solving.
"I didn't know what not working was like, and felt the need to keep working," she said. "I
would literally have to be two places at one time. I was someplace every single day. I'd work
Thursday and Friday evenings, Saturday during the day and then Sunday the same time. Then
I'd go back to work on Sunday to work the overnight shift."
Only on test days at the college would Marlar not work the night before.
Eventually she decided she had to focus on her studies, but credits her air traffic controller
career with giving her the financial means and discipline to follow through and complete the
As a sophomore, Marlar served as treasurer of SCAVMA and as treasurer and founding
member of the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.
Congratulations to our new graduate degree recipients
We have several new graduate degree recipients we need to acknowledge and
extend congratulations to.
The following individuals received degrees during UF commencement ceremonies,
held May 1 at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center:
Master of Science degree (with thesis): Kim Goldbach, Department of Small
Animal Clinical Sciences.
She loves gourmet cooking, scuba diving,
traveling and biking but she still dreams of
returning to flying one day. Her last flight was
five years ago in Opalocka, Fla., in a single-
"It was kind of like my last flying hurrah,
since I knew I would not be able to fly or
afford it while I was in vet school," Marlar
But she'd love to return to flying one day,
and maybe even own her own airplane.
"I love the airshow and everything about
flying," Marlar said.
In 2001, Marlar was named Air Traffic
Controller of the Year at the Lakeland Sun and
Fun airshow. She also was air traffic controller
at the Oshkosh EAA Airshow that same year.
Her favorite airplane is the P51D Mus-
tang, which she has ridden in several times.
"Any true aviator will know this airplane," Kelli Marlar
said Marlar, who was born and raised in
Miami. Her first job was fueling airplanes out of Tamiami airport, where she also worked at the
After graduation from the UF veterinary college, Marlar will return to familiar territory in
South Florida to perform an internship at Hollywood Animal Hospital.
"Then I'll probably segue into private practice," Marlar said. "The real learning starts when
you're in the real world," she said. "People did think I was crazy to give up such a well paid
profession. Now I'll be in debt. But you're never too old to do what you really want to do in
Ph.D. degree: Melissa Bourgeois and Carolina Perez-Heydrich (Department of
Infectious Diseases and Pathology) and Tameka Phillips (Department of Large Animal
Master's in Forensic Toxicology Degree (non-thesis/Web-based): Noelle Feldbauer,
Steven Fleming Denise Gilbertson and Darcy Miller.
Nursing career and research interests strengthened student's resume,
offered grounding and income during veterinary school
BY SARAH CAREY
W hen Mary Clinton, 42, started veterinary school at the University of Florida in
2006, she already was a registered nurse with ajob at Shands, and a master of
science degree well underway. With her nursing degree, she knew she could get a
job anywhere, but along the way, she'd paid a few dues: working as a bartender, as barn help, as
a bank teller. She'd even worked in telephone installation and repair service.
"Yes, I actually climbed poles and was the only female in my district doing so," said
Clinton, who hails from New Jersey and admits to wanting to be a veterinarian from an early
age. "It was at that point that I realized I wanted to do something more important, more
meaningful. So I applied to a local college for undergraduate school and I loved it."
She eventually transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, and did well enough to be
named to its scholars program. She contemplated medical school and even applied, but didn't
get in. At that point Clinton returned to New Jersey, and to her original plan of becoming a
She began working for a local veterinary practice, then moved to Oradell Animal Hospital, a
referral practice that would afford ample opportunities for hands-on experience.
"I was quickly learning more and more," she said. "Oradell was great because if you had
initiative and showed promise, they would cross-train you as a technician. I quickly learned all
the positions: Internal medicine, surgery, anesthesia, dentistry, radiology and the float/treatment
job. It worked for the practice, because I could fill in for anyone and was flexible."
After two years at Oradell, Clinton passed the technician examination and began preparing
to apply to veterinary school. She zeroed in on Ohio and Florida as her two options, and
decided to move to Florida "the easiest decision of the whole process." Soon after, she became
interested in research, working for a UF behavioral neuroscientist.
Clinton landed an interview and a place on the CVM applicant waiting list.
She didn't get in. It felt like the door so close to being opened, had closed in her face.
"I was so frstrated and quite a bit angry. I thought about reapplying, but then thought I
might never get in. Then I started looking at other options."
Her mother is a nurse, as was her roommate, and a few neighbors and friends.
"They always had great jobs, made good money and could go anywhere and get a job,"
Clinton said. "Plus, it was like being a vet tech, except for people and you get paid a whole lot
Mary Clinton and her horse, Kong.
In 2004, UF was offering a new program an accelerated second BS degree in nursing, for students who already held bachelor's degrees.
"With three days to the deadline to apply, I got my application done and had my letters of recommendation in on time. And I got in, even without an interview. I was one of only 28 students
out of 300 applicants who did...or so they said."
She continued to hold her job in a research laboratory at UF. But halfway through the nursing program, Clinton still had the veterinary medicine bug.
"I was still a little bitter, but after some struggling, I figured, what the heck," she said. "I loved veterinary medicine and I needed to let go of that anger andjust do it."
On her second attempt, Clinton finally was accepted to veterinary school. Her dream had come true, but with nursing school still not yet completed, she was thinking ahead.
"I had eight weeks between graduation from nursing school and starting vet school," she said. "I wanted a nursing position at Shands, but they required eight weeks of working full time
before you could be a part-time employee."
She worked that out, and by the end of the summer of 2005, Clinton was working full time as a registered nurse. Then she received a letter from the veterinary college offering an opportunity
for graduate school, with paid tuition and a nice stipend.
Clinton decided that the experience she had gained working in a UF research lab, where she studied taste and the neurological pathways involved in the healing and manipulation of nerves,
could afford an interesting opportunity to pick up a master's degree.
"I went to the vet school administration with my proposition, and they were thrilled I had an interest in a field outside of veterinary medicine, but still involved with animals," Clinton said. So
she delayed veterinary school for another year, while she worked toward her master's degree, all the while working as a nurse to support herself.
She was quite happy with the way things all turned out.
"If I hadn't taken the year off for graduate school, I never would have met my husband," Clinton said, adding that she and her husband met through a veterinary school friend.
When Clinton entered veterinary school as a freshman, she was working half time at Shands. After about a year, she transferred to central staffing, where she could work as needed on every
floor but not have to commit her hours in advance. She continued to work as a nurse throughout her veterinary student career.
"It sure beats flipping burgers for a part time job," Clinton said. "I work on all the floors and see different patients on every shift and I know staff from all over the hospital. They always greet
me with a warm embrace when I get to the floor. It has been a great experience overall, and an insight to the nuances between human and veterinary medicine."
Her nursing experience has also driven home the reasons why Clinton is ready to shift from human to veterinary medicine as her full time career.
"I know in my heart that I belong in veterinary medicine, and for now it is there I will make my career," Clinton said.
This summer, Clinton plans to begin working at a mixed animal practice in Bunnell. She hopes to complete her master's degree no later than next fall.
best wishes all
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of 2010 from all c
at the UF CVM ar
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Fins for Fur fishing tournament is June 12
Clinicians from the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine
will be casting their rods June 12 in Cedar Key to benefit special needs pets at a
"Fins for Fur" charity fishing tournament in Cedar Key.
Anyone interested in participating may register to compete in three
categories: Redfish, Spanish Mackerel and Trout. All support and contributions
will go toward the UF Veterinary Hospitals' Pet Samaritan Fund.
The fund is used exclusively to help treat special needs animals that also
offer teaching opportunities for veterinary students. Patients that are eligible are
either ownerless or owned by clients who have extenuating financial circum-
stances. To be considered eligible for funding support, such animals would be
deemed to be in need of life-saving procedures.
The first-ever event was conceived of by Dr. Carsten Bandt, an assistant
professor of emergency and critical care at UF's College of Veterinary Medicine.
Bandt likes to fish, so he approached several of his colleagues with the idea of
creating a fishing tournament as a means to involve the public in their effort to
raise funds and bring awareness to the situation many owners and animal face
during these difficult economic times.
For more information, call Bandt at 352-258-1930 or e-mail him at
It's that time ofyear again: Offshore students
celebrate completion of clinical rotations; student
ambassadors are acknowledged foryearlong
volunteer efforts and seniors give feedback about
student life and curriculum at annual exit luncheons.
Here are just a few shots from those events.
Beth Gibson from Ross is shown with UF Small Animal Hospital radiology technician Philip Buchyn.
Paula Lenhard, from Ross University, shows off her certificate of completion.
Senior students Angela Avok, left, and Stephanie King give each other a hug prior to sitting down for lunch, which
was prepared this year by Omi Risco -- wife of Dr. Carlos Risco.
Stacey West and Lauren Unger, both from the Class of 2012, show off their certificates of recognition during a
reception held for the CVM's student ambassadors.
Lynnette Chaparro, right, from the CVM's Office for Students and Instruction, stands in line for
food with senior UF veterinary students Gary Clark and Gregg Merritt on April 27, 2010 during
one of two Senior Exit Luncheons held at the college.
Genevieve Mendoza Perez, left, an administrative assistant in the alumni affairs office, stands
with Angela Avok and Laura Seheult during a recognition reception held for the CVM student
ambassadors in May.
Veterinary students aim to promote professional diversity by serving as role models
for disadvantaged youth
BY SARAH CAREY
B y giving hands-on presentations about animal health at local schools and even
partnering with a Gainesville high-risk youth organization, a group of University of
Florida veterinary students hope to motivate underprivileged area youth to pursue
their career dreams.
"My children were very excited when Van Brass and Tyrell Kahan (both from the UF
College of Veterinary Medicine's Class of 2011) came into the room," said Janet Walters, a first
grade teacher at Rawlings Elementary.
"Oooohs and aaahhhs spread as they walked in with the small dog on a leash," Walters said.
"When they got to listen to the dog's heartbeat, I could see the wonder on their faces. Maybe
we will have a vet in the future from this experience."
Brass and Kahan are members of the UF chapter of the veterinary student club known as
VOICE Veterinary Students as One in Culture and Ethnicity. In its first year, the group held
food and clothing drives for low-income Gainesville residents. This year, the group's focus has
been on direct community outreach.
Both Brass and Kahan are African-American, which enabled Rawlings teachers to offer an
example of diversity to their students.
"We actually visited two schools within the past month and gave a presentation on veteri-
nary medicine," said Kahan, who heads up the community outreach component of the club.
"We also developed a pamphlet that talks about how to give your dog a checkup at home, how
often to do checkups and when to take your dog to the vet."
During the school presentations, VOICE members showed kids what a stethoscope is and,
using a dog that belongs to one of the members, demonstrated how to check a pet's eyes and
VOICE members Lien d'Hespeel and Brandon Culbertson, both from the Class of 2011,
also took part in school presentations and member Santiago Diaz, Class of 2011, and Kahan co-
coordinated a trip to the Santa Fe Teaching Zoo May 1 for kids in the Youth Attack Program.
Spearheaded by Harvest Baptist Worship Center pastor Arthur Clark, the program began in
Gainesville in 2003 and ministers to teenagers within low income neighborhoods.
"We now have 47 teens who participate in the program," said Clark. "These are kids who
have been having problems at school, and we now have 25 after-school tutors from UF who
come out to Linton Oaks to work with them. One of the moms who has a grandson attending
the program knew someone who worked at the vet school, and that led to me getting in contact
with the vet students."
Experiences such as the zoo trip contribute to community awareness and the ability to
understand the importance of making positive decisions in life, Clark said.
"As I was growing up, I was fortunate to be able to go to a good school and always have
food on my table," said Diaz, who from an early age performed community outreach in his
home country of Colombia. "However, it was hard for me to see how other people did not have
all these privileges just because of the place they were born, what they looked like or simply by
Diaz added that in Colombia, many kids are told that they will never be able to go to school
and that they must start work at an early age.
"No one gives them an opportunity to succeed in life and I was greatly affected by this," he
"Diversity is not just about race. Diversity also comes in many
other forms, including ethnic, socioeconomic and educational
background, sexual orientation and religion. We just hope to be
able to inform people about the different ways to achieve
diversity, outside of race."
Veterinary students Brandon Culbertson, Lien d'Hespeel and Van Brass gave a presentation on animal health
care recently to Alachua County elementary school students.
strides, but there's still a lot of work to be done."
The community food drive Brass organized on behalf of the group last year supplied
enough clothes and food for 300 people.
"We've had some challenges and it's tough for vet students who are trying to complete a
rigorous curriculum to do outside things. Santiago and Tyrell have really revved things up,"
He emphasized that the VOICE group welcomes additional participation and support from
all their classmates, whether from a minority ethnic background or not.
When people hear 'diversity', they hear 'race.' Diversity is not just about race," Brass
said. "Diversity also comes in many other forms, including ethnic, socioeconomic and
educational background, sexual orientation and religion. We just hope to be able to inform
people about the different ways to achieve diversity, outside of race."
Anyone seeking more information about VOICE may contact Brass javzcowboyvtufl.edu.
" .MIIII "
Van Brass, Class of 2012
When Santiago came to the states five years ago, he was surprised to see that there were
only a handful of students from ethnic minorities as part of the CVM student body.
"As time passed, I soon realized that something similar happens in this country, in that
there is a cultural stigma for people from minorities to just be happy with having a seven-day
job that pays enough to live well," Diaz said. "However, I like to inspire kids and teach them
that we are all equal and we have the same opportunities that anyone else has."
Diaz added, "I like for them to see that if I was able to get accepted into a graduate pro-
gram, living for the past five years in this country and with English being my second language,
they can do even greater things."
Brass and Kahan both said that growing up, they knew no African American veterinarians,
nor did they have any conception of veterinary medicine as a career they could aspire to.
"From the standpoint of being African American, people can tell you that you can do this or
that, but it's much more difficult to imagine if you can't see it," Kahan said. "I used to go back
to my high school and give presentations about going to UF, but I spent the whole time
convincing them that they could go to UF."
He said he believes many at-risk young people don't graduate from high school, much less
pursue additional educational goals, simply because they don't believe they can.
"To show them someone who is actually doing it can give them a little more hope that they
can do it themselves'" Kahan said.
VOICE's president, Brass, like other group members, said community service has long
been an important part of his life. He learned about the national VOICE group, which origi-
nally started at Cornell in 2006, and also that UF did not have a VOICE chapter.
"So I created one," Brass said, adding that presently the group has about a dozen members.
"Our basic tenets are community service and diversity in veterinary medicine."
"I think people in the veterinary profession aren't 100 percent aware of the lack of diver-
sity. We push through and don't look around sometimes"' Brass said. "UF has made some
Lien d'Hespeel shows Alachua schoolchildren now to check a cat for obvious health problems.
Commencement is May 29
Come join us in wishing the best to the Class of 2010! Commencement
exercises for the class will be held at 2 p.m.. at the UF Phillips Center for
the Performing Arts.
Distinguished Award winners for 2010 will be given and Dr. Michael Schaer
will deliver the commencement address.
Hope to see you there!