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Future veterinarians hope for group success
MISSISSIPPI STATE --When Marsha Rosanelli heard she had been accepted into veterinary school at Mississippi State University, she had more to think about than classes and homework -- she was about to have a baby.
As a testament to the class's commitment to helping every student succeed, Rosanelli's fellow classmates are making sure she gets her class notes, and they also threw her a surprise baby shower. Rosanelli's daughter was born Aug. 15. Veterinary classes started July 31.
"I think this shows that our students are not competitive with one another, but that they truly want to see each other succeed," said Barbara Coats, student affairs coordinator at the College of Veterinary Medicine. "We want all of our students to walk across that graduation stage together."
The class of 2007 includes 60 students from 15 states, with 39 of them calling Mississippi home. Of those students, 44 have previously done coursework at MSU.
The class has a collective grade-point average of 3.52. Four finished their undergraduate educations with 4.0 GPAs. Twenty-six students have bachelor's degrees, and five have earned master's degrees.
Thirty-three women make up 60 percent of the class, down 5 percent from last year. The number of married students is 11, and six students have a total of nine children. Four students are engaged to be married.
The students range in age from 20 to 44. Three students are children of veterinarians.
Most CVM students go into traditional companion animal medicine, but many are choosing to go in other career directions with a dual degree master's program. This option allows junior and senior students to work on their master's degrees during elective hours.
"There are many different fields that, so far, have remained untapped by veterinarians," said Dr. Skip Jack, a CVM Department of Pathobiology and Population Medicine professor. "Now students are choosing many different career opportunities, including those in food safety, emergency preparedness and population medicine."
The dual degree program is not new to the CVM -- for about 10 years, some students have chosen to study food animal production medicine. The original program prepared students for careers working with beef, dairy, swine, poultry and aquaculture enterprises.
"Three or four years ago, we expanded the program to include wildlife medicine and food safety," Jack explained.
Students in the program can now learn to deal with medical issues affecting populations, or herds, of animals. The food safety option prepares students to ensure a wholesome and safe food supply for people.
Another option for veterinary students is to work on a master's or doctoral degree in the Veterinary Medical Science graduate program. These students choose a research emphasis in areas like immunology, molecular biology, parasitology, toxicology and microbiology.
Whatever career direction students choose, the future looks bright. The American Veterinary Medical Association still reports that there are about three positions available for each veterinarian.
For the fifth year in a row, students participated in the Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience orientation program at Camp Seminole, a local Boy Scout camp.
"The morning session includes get-to-know-you games that let the students have fun while learning about the people they will be spending the next four or so years of their lives with," Coats said. "In the afternoon, students go through more physically trying activities that also challenge their group problem-solving skills."
For instance, students learn to trust their fellow classmates when they fall backward from a 5-foot platform into the group's arms. In another challenge, students must work together to get all 10 team members over a 12-foot wall.
The COPE program is designed to emphasize teamwork and camaraderie among new veterinary school students. It also helps students develop self-confidence and leadership skills, and builds rapport within the class.
The sense of family that begins to develop as students work together on the COPE orientation program continues throughout their years of veterinary school. The close-knit group will depend on one another for group activities, studies and friendships that will last a lifetime.
Contact: Barbara Coats, (662) 325-1278, Dr. Skip Jack, (662) 325-1311