Veterinary students thrive at SAVMA Symposium in Tennessee

Annual event offers networking, lectures, and hands-on learning

Updated April 10, 2024

The 2024 Student AVMA (SAVMA) Symposium, co-hosted by Lincoln Memorial University and the University of Tennessee, brought together nearly 1,000 veterinary students and other attendees from across the nation from March 14-17 at the Knoxville Convention Center.

Along with an exciting exhibit hall, the symposium featured educational day trips to the Tennessee Aquarium, Dollywood theme park, and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.

Wet laboratory topics included equine limb lacerations, rodent handling techniques, and dairy calf processing. Attendees could choose from lectures on clinical topics such as fluid therapy in small animals, antimicrobial stewardship, treatment of aggressive patients, and feline diabetes.

Students stand at laboratory stations wearing surgical masks and gloves
A group of students prepare for a wildlife darting laboratory at Lincoln Memorial University Richard A. Gillespie College of Veterinary Medicine's Debusk Veterinary Teaching Center at the Ewing, Virginia, campus during the 2024 Student AVMA Symposium. (Photo by Ashley Love)

Wellbeing was a major focus, with presentations on handling stress, mentorship, building emotional resilience, team dynamics, and more.

Events and awards

Students had the chance to represent their veterinary schools and compete against one another in sack racing, cornhole, tug of war, and a trivia scavenger hunt. Academic competitions included suturing, anatomy identification, and bovine palpitation.

Pride Student Veterinary Medical Community held an annual meeting and social event for LBGTQ+ students and allies over the weekend. An after-hours celebration at Zoo Knoxville offered behind-the-scenes hospital tours to students along with refreshments and the opportunity to explore exhibits.  

The opening gala on March 15 night included a keynote address from Dr. Greg Echols, a practicing relief veterinarian based in North Carolina and social media influencer with more than 18,000 followers on Instagram. The night ended with a DJ and dancing.

Two female veterinary students in white coats stand next to each other smiling
Student teams participate in the bovine enucleation wet laboratory at LMU’s DeBusk Veterinary Teaching Center. (Photo by Ashley Love)

At the closing ceremony breakfast on March 17, the AVMA Student Initiatives Team handed out SAVMies to acknowledge chapter efforts.

Kansas State University won the award for the most improved percentage of students who were SAVMA members. Texas Tech University’s Domino Duos Plus-Ones event was awarded for the most innovative event in the ALL for Students program—with ALL being an acronym for Achieving, Leading, and Learning. And the University of Georgia took the award for most registered veterinary students attending the symposium.


The SAVMA Executive Board and House of Delegates (SAVMA HOD) met, along with the chapter presidents.

At the SAVMA HOD meeting, student delegates took many actions, including the following:

  • Updated the manual of the SAVMA Symposium to change the timing of when the core host school symposium planning team stipends will be distributed.
  • Approved increasing the total amount of the stipends that SAVMA gives to the core host school symposium planning team.
  • Revised the SAVMA Bylaws to add clarifying language on chapters that do not meet their membership percentage requirements. Specifically, the change applied to how chapters can retain a vote in the HOD to apply for extenuating circumstances and retain voting privileges.
  • Approved increasing the national SAVMA chapter dues by $3 for both early and late dues periods starting with the 2024-25 year beginning in April.
A large group of students stand outside of an academic building
SAVMA Symposium offers countless opportunities for veterinary students to connect during academic and recreational competitions. Pictured are the teams that competed in bovine palpitation. (Photo courtesy of SAVMA)


The following officers were installed for the 2024-25 SAVMA Executive Board: Tara Barron, Lincoln Memorial University, president; John Grealish, Cornell University, secretary; Gus Peterson, Iowa State, treasurer; Lauren Wienker, Kansas State University, international exchange officer; Taylor French, Ohio State University, communications and public relations officer; Vitoria Kuzolitz, University of Georgia, editor-in-chief; Hannah Burrows, Iowa State, global and public health officer; Jennifer Wayman, University of Tennessee, veterinary economics officer; Nirali Pathak, University of Florida, cultural outreach officer; Reiss Gidner, Cornell University, chapter president representative; Megan Gulsby, Tufts University, wellbeing officer.

Additionally, the SAVMA HOD elected the following officers: Kyle Frett, Tuskegee University, president-elect; Josie Peterson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, secretary-elect; Anna Jones, North Carolina State University, treasurer-elect; Maya Kelly, University of Florida, international exchange officer–elect; Kyle Barron, Purdue University, communications and public relations officer-elect; Jamie Burke, University of Pennsylvania, editor-in-chief-elect; Alysia Cannon, Louisiana State, chapter president representative–elect.

The 2025 SAVMA Symposium will be hosted by the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine from March 21-23 in Davis, California.