SAVMA Symposium at Illinois highlighted the best of the Midwest
The 2023 Student AVMA (SAVMA) Symposium, hosted by the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, had nearly 700 veterinary students in attendance for the event from March 17-19.
Recognizing the event took place over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, organizers scheduled many celebratory activities for attendees, including a St. Patrick’s Day Opening Gala with the band Boy Band Review, kitten yoga, a brewery tour, a stress-free paint session, and axe throwing.
In addition to a bustling exhibit hall, there were educational day trips to Brookfield Zoo, the Shedd Aquarium, and Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch. Wet laboratories included topics such as turtle shell fracture repair and techniques in toxicology while lectures covered clinical topics as well as student wellbeing; diversity, equity, and inclusion; navigating career changes; error prevention; mentorship; and more.
Schools had the chance to compete against one another in a 5K run, cornhole, and tug of war along with academic competitions in bovine palpitation, triage, teeth aging, and poisonous plant identification.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Mike Adkesson, president and chief executive officer of the Chicago Zoological Society and director of Brookfield Zoo. Dr. Adkesson is anadvocate on the importance of modern zoos and aquariums as a means for inspiring societal compassion and concern for wildlife and nature.
The closing remarks were presented by Dr. Melanie Bowden, a traveling doctor for Veterinary Emergency Group and a future medical director of its Seattle location. Dr. Bowden experienced burnout early in her career. Her journey to finding sustainability at work has developed into a passion for helping others find happiness and sustainability in the profession as well.
The SAVMA Executive Board and House of Delegates (SAVMA HOD) met, as well as the chapter presidents.
At the SAVMA HOD meeting, student delegates took a number of actions, including the following:
- Gave one vote to the senior delegate for chapter members at the 2+2 satellite campuses to be represented in the HOD.
- Added the position of International Council for Veterinary Assessment (ICVA) liaison to the SAVMA Education and Professional Development Committee (EPDC).
- Considered creating a new SAVMA Executive Board officer position, titled Wellbeing Liaison. This motion was referred back to the SAVMA Wellbeing Committee and the SAVMA Executive Board to discuss further and bring a motion back to the SAVMA HOD at the next meeting, happening in July during AVMA Convention 2023 in Denver.
The AVMA Student Initiatives Team handed out the SAVMies to recognize chapter efforts. Cornell University won the award for most improved percentage of students who were SAVMA members. Mississippi State University SAVMA chapter’s Veterinary Leadership and Wellness Conference received the award for the most innovative event in the ALL for Students program—with ALL being an acronym for Achieving, Leading, and Learning. Michigan State University took the award for most registered students attending the symposium.
The following officers were installed for the 2023-24 SAVMA Executive Board: Max Paulson University of Illinois, president; Sarah Houpt, Mississippi State, secretary; Katie Green, Virginia-Maryland, treasurer; Vivian Lee, Cornell University, international exchange officer; Jessica Topka, University of Missouri, communications and public relations officer; Bryanna Meredith, North Carolina State University, editor-in-chief; Samm Clark, Louisiana State University, global and public health officer; Alexia Mazzarella, Michigan State, veterinary economics officer; Tesa Stone, University of Pennsylvania, cultural outreach officer; Thomas LeClair, Washington State University, chapter president representative.
Additionally, the SAVMA HOD elected the following officers: Tara Barron, Lincoln Memorial University, president-elect; John Grealish, Cornell University, secretary-elect; Lauren Wienker, Kansas State University, international exchange officer–elect; Taylor French, Ohio State University, communications and public relations officer-elect; Vitoria Kuzolitz, University of Georgia, editor-in-chief-elect.
The 2024 SAVMA Symposium will be jointly hosted by Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine and University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, with events happening March 14-17 in both Knoxville and Harrogate, Tennessee.
A version of this article appears in the June 2023 print issue of JAVMA.