Twin Brothers, 84 Others Earn DVM Degrees During VMRCVM's 20th Commencement Ceremonies

BLACKSBURG, Va., May 9, 2003 – Twin brothers who began their affiliation with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine through the Minority Academic Opportunities Program will be among the 86 DVM students awarded diplomas during the College's 20th annual commencement ceremony in Blacksburg.

Erick and Shawnne Spencer of Hyattesville, Maryland, the first twins to ever graduate from the regional veterinary college, began their studies in 1998 through an innovative program designed to provide research and educational opportunities for qualified minority students.

Each has been working on a M.S. degree in the veterinary medical sciences graduate program in addition to their work in the four-year professional curriculum. Erick plans to conduct a post-graduate clinical internship at Washington State University and Shawnne will enter private practice.

Erick and Shawnne are members of a class that saw the changing of the millennium, the collapse of the technology bubble and the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11.

To commemorate those victims and make a patriotic statement, the class elected to donate an American flag and pole as the traditional class gift to the college. A thirty foot bronze pole has been installed and bright red, white and blue American flag now flaps in the breeze adjacent to the main entrance of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

The college also recently honored retired dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dr. "Andy" Swiger by inducting him into its "John N. Dalton Society." That group memorializes the late Virginia Governor who signed legislation creating the college and honors an elite group of friends who have made enduring contributions to the development of the VMRCVM.

Swiger will be honored for the strong working partnership he helped foster between the CALS and the VMRCVM. The cooperative relationship is credited with helping provide unprecedented levels of service for both Virginia agriculture and the state's veterinary profession.

Eighty-four DVM degrees, four PhD degrees, 17 M.S. degrees and nine Certificates of Residency will be awarded during the ceremony.

Featuring dignitaries from both Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland, the colorful pageant will include the administration of the "Veterinarian's Oath," the "Hooding Ceremony," and the presentation of numerous awards and honors.

Dr. Martha Larsen, a professor of radiology in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, was invited by the class to present the Keynote Address.

Dr. Chip Godine, president of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, will administer the "Veterinarian's Oath," and Dr. Perry S. Crowl, president of the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, will welcome the new veterinarians on behalf of organized veterinary medicine.

Dr. Lynne B. Oliver, the Class of 2003 valedictorian, will be presented with the Richard B. Talbot Award, and Dr. William D. Tyrell, Jr. ('92) will be honored as the College's Outstanding Young Alumnus for 2003.