Student AVMA convenes in Hawaii

International exchange opportunities, increased student interest in SAVMA programs among topics addressed
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While the Hawaii sun and surf were a strong pull for AVMA convention-goers this July, the special events, continuing education lectures, and organizational meetings available were not to be missed. Nearly 300 veterinary students traveled to Honolulu to enjoy all that the 143rd AVMA Annual Convention had to offer. Of those students, approximately 60 came specifically to participate as members of the Student AVMA House of Delegates.

Student AVMA leadership members

The SAVMA HOD consists of two elected representatives from each of the veterinary schools and colleges in the United States, along with representatives from the Atlantic Veterinary College, Prince Edward Island, Canada; Ross University on St. Kitts; and St. George's University, Grenada, West Indies. Their July 16-17 meeting at the Hilton Hawaiian Village was one of two meetings for the SAVMA HOD this year.

The current SAVMA Executive Committee comprises Kara Tassone, St. George's University, president; Justin Sobata, University of Florida, president-elect; Dr. Heather Manfredi, University of Florida, secretary; Laura Cauthen, Texas A&M University, treasurer; Karen Eiler, Western University of Health Sciences, international exchange officer; Dominic Tauer, University of Minnesota, international exchange officer-elect; Devon Hague, The Ohio State University, information technology officer; and Alix Partnow, University of Illinois, editor of The Vet Gazette.

During the meeting, delegates had the opportunity to discuss issues concerning students and determine ways in which SAVMA can benefit its constituents. Important topics addressed this year included international exchange opportunities for SAVMA members and the availability of student scholarship and contest money provided by SAVMA.

Delegates stressed that there is a need to increase student awareness regarding opportunities to travel abroad for participation in externships through the International Veterinary Student Association. Currently, the host organization is placing many international students in externships throughout the United States. The SAVMA international exchange officer, in conjunction with the International Veterinary Student Relations Committee, has made plans to streamline the application process for American students and hopes to see an increase in outgoing exchanges in the near future.

In addition to their work in the HOD, SAVMA delegates serve on various committees working to engage students in organized veterinary medicine at a grassroots level. This year, many committees noted increased student interest in their programs. Highlighted areas include awareness of emerging issues, interest in the AVMA's involvement in governmental issues, and student efforts to promote public awareness of the veterinary profession. To encourage student involvement in organized veterinary medicine as well as recognize individual achievements, the SAVMA HOD voted to increase funding for many committee projects in the coming fiscal year.

Between discussing student issues and reviewing their governance documents, members of the Student HOD attended the AVMA Political Action Committee Congressional Club luncheon, which featured an address by noted political analyst Charles E. Cook.

The SAVMA HOD meeting was honored by visits from several distinguished guests, and representatives from the Department of Agriculture and the AVMA Governmental Relations Divisions were invited to give short presentations to the delegates.

As their meeting came to a close, SAVMA delegates expressed their gratitude and bid a heartfelt farewell to outgoing AVMA vice president and adviser, Dr. René A. Carlson. During her tenure, Dr. Carlson has served as an incredible advocate for students and inspired future veterinarians to step up and have their opinions heard.

The SAVMA is excited to welcome new AVMA Vice President Charles M. Hendrix. Dr. Hendrix is enthusiastic and passionate and will no doubt energize veterinary students across the country as he begins visiting schools and colleges this fall.

Student AVMA House of Delegates

New SAVMA Executive Committee officers elected at the meeting were Rachel Shaff, University of Illinois, secretary-elect; Whitney Miller, Colorado State University, treasurer-elect; Maci Keithly, Washington State University, information technology officer-elect; and Erin Hicks, Tufts University, editor-elect of The Vet Gazette. These officers will be sworn in at the SAVMA HOD meeting during the Student AVMA Educational Symposium in March, which will be hosted by North Carolina State University.