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May 15, 2020

SAVMA goes virtual

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When meeting in person no longer became an option, about 130 veterinary students gathered online using Zoom, a virtual meeting platform, to conduct Student AVMA–related business and elections this spring.

The meeting, March 14-15, included the main SAVMA House of Delegates meeting, all committee meetings, and a new delegate orientation meeting. The symposium was originally scheduled as an in-person event at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, but had to be called off because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Kyre Larrabee, the outgoing SAVMA president, had about a week before the event to plan for an alternative scenario. Part of that planning included informing nearly 1,000 students that they couldn’t come to the annual event that brings together students, veterinary professionals, veterinary college faculty members, and industry leaders for lectures, competitions, and leadership meetings. But some of these events continued as SAVMA members met virtually.

Screenshot of SAVMA's virtual meeting


The SAVMA Governmental Affairs Committee submitted a SAVMA Bylaws amendment that would add language on how to handle situations when delegates themselves apply for personal grants, scholarships, or limited opportunities awarded by the SAVMA committee to which they belong. The GAC chose to withdraw the motion and work with SAVMA committee chairs to refine the amendment and bring it forward at a future meeting.

A motion submitted by the SAVMA Symposium Committee would allow delegates from the host symposium school to have the option to serve on a second SAVMA standing committee in addition to the SAVMA Symposium committee that they are automatically assigned to as a delegate from the host school. The motion was tabled to the next SAVMA HOD meeting during AVMA Convention 2020, scheduled for July 31-Aug. 4 in San Diego.


SAVMA recognized several faculty members for their work via social media. Dr. Kate KuKanich, associate professor of small animal  internal medicine at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, received the Faculty Community Outreach Award. Dr. Sara Lawhon, associate professor of veterinary pathobiology at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, was awarded the Teaching Excellence Award. Dr. Jacquelyn Pelzer, associate professor of practice and director of admissions and student services at Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, received the Support of Student Wellbeing Award. Lyla Kotsch, a student at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, was awarded the John Pitts Distinguished Service Award.


The following SAVMA officers were installed for 2020-21: Marie Bucko, University of Wisconsin-Madison, president; Morgan Ostwinkle Jones, Lincoln Memorial University, secretary; AudreyAnne Estess, Mississippi State University, treasurer; Kayla Hoenert, Purdue University, communications and public relations officer; Collin Kramer, Colorado State University, international exchange officer; Kirsten Andersson, University of Illinois, editor-in-chief of The Vet Gazette; Laura Venner, The Ohio State University, global and public health officer; Kelsey Deaver, Iowa State University, veterinary economics officer; Jessi Coryell, University of Minnesota, cultural outreach officer.

The SAVMA HOD also elected the following officers: Hidayah Martinez-Jaka, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, president-elect; Ashley Miller, Western University of Health Sciences, global and public health officer–elect; Hanna Netisingha, University of Illinois, communications and public relations officer–elect; Tyler McMurray, Mississippi State University, veterinary economics officer–elect; Laci Taylor, Cornell University, international exchange officer–elect.