As a SAVMA delegate, Nikki Dowgos, a first year at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, had a slightly different experience at Symposium than most other students who attended. As a representative of her veterinary school she acts as a member of the SAVMA House of Delegates (or SAVMA HOD) to be the voice of her colleagues at the national level. This means missing some of those incredible lectures, wet labs, and day trips to attend meetings, roundtable discussions, and open floor sessions in order to guide and direct the policy and activities of SAVMA in the best interest of the veterinary profession and the public it serves. It's no small task but even as a first time Symposium attendee, Nikki was up for the challenge. Thank you Nikki, for sharing your experience with us!
This year, in College Station, TX, I attended my first SAVMA Symposium at Texas A&M. Having never been to Texas, I had no idea what to expect. I was greeted with lots of exclamations of “Howdy!” and twangy country music when we touched down in Houston; I knew from the first step off the plane that I was going to have a memorable time in the “Lone Star State”!
As the junior delegate representing the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, I was required to attend House of Delegates meetings where I would debate and vote on important issues concerning veterinary students from my school and around the county. I couldn’t wait to get to the venue where the symposium was being held and begin learning about the behind-the-scenes work of SAVMA.
Upon arrival at the Veterinary & Biomedical Education Complex, I walked into the United Nations-esque room and claimed my seat behind the University of Georgia flag and name plate. Quickly glancing around, I realized I had Michigan State on one side and Royal Veterinary College on the other. I was so excited to meet my fellow vet students and delegates! When roll call came around, all of the schools in attendance had their own fun and unique way of exclaiming their presence (Georgia called the Dawgs, of course)!
Once the meeting commenced, we discussed a few amendments to the Student American Veterinary Medical Association Constitution and By-Laws and then took a break to meet with the committees that we are required to be a part of as a SAVMA Delegate. My committee was the Symposium Committee since UGA will be hosting SAVMA Symposium 2019! As I walked out to our meeting place, I glanced around the main hall and was surprised at the number of students there. Everyone looked cheerful and seemed to be engaged in great conversation! One of the groups that I passed was made up of students from a couple of different schools; I could tell because they were discussing how their school did things differently from the other students they were talking to. I also had many conversations like this in my free time during Symposium. For me, learning about other students and their respective schools was one of the best parts of being at Texas A&M. All the schools feel so secluded and I think it is beneficial for everyone if we establish better communication between us! Symposium was a great outlet for that.
Since SAVMA Symposium is run for veterinary students by veterinary students, the lectures and wet-labs were catered toward us! All of them were relevant to our development as future veterinarians. I attended a professional development wet-lab and learned about client education and compliance; it was very interactive and I took a lot from it. I even acquired the presenter’s contact information to bring back to my own school to organize a lecture for our students!
SAVMA Symposium 2017 was an event that I won’t soon forget. I’m very much looking forward to SAVMA Symposium 2018 at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and I hope to see a lot of you there!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nikki Dowgos is a first year at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, a long way from her home in Delaware. She is currently following the mixed animal track and is especially interested in shelter medicine and public health. When she’s not locked in her room studying for the next big exam, she enjoys kayaking, playing with her roommates’ dogs, and attempting to win pub trivia.