Family and friends of the class of 2018 witnessed Oklahoma State University veterinary students take the first step on their journey toward earning a degree at this year’s White Coat Ceremony. 

“I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian,” says Nick Thompson of Coalgate, Okla. “My father is a veterinarian (OSU CVM 1981).  To finally have it happen and have my dad be the one to coat me, it meant a lot to me and I know it meant a lot to him.  Ultimately, I would like to go back to Coalgate and take over the family practice and keep that tradition alive so everyone knows this is a reliable place to go.”

The class is comprised of 58 Oklahoma residents and 24 nonresidents representing Ontario, Canada, and the states of Arkansas, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas.

“The White Coat Ceremony symbolizes the joining of the profession of veterinary medicine.  It is a sign that these students have worked hard to get to this point and they deserve congratulations,” says Chris Ross, DVM, PhD, professor and associate dean for academic affairs.  “There are also plenty of challenges ahead of them as they progress toward their professional goals.”  

Eric Walther of Edmond, Okla., started his journey a few years later than originally planned. “Veterinary medicine was something I wanted to do when I was in my 20s but I also started a family at the same time and realized I couldn’t do both,” explains Walther.  “A supportive wife and an employer who let me work part-time to take the necessary prerequisites have made this day possible.  I chose Oklahoma State because it’s close to home and the tuition is low but all of my interaction here leads me to believe that this is the right place for me to be.  Everybody here is just excellent – top caliber people.  I am finally here and ready to start class.”

Veterinary students will spend their first year immersed in physiology, anatomy and the basics of veterinary ethics.

“I want to be a sponge,” claims veterinary student Kristen Rivers of Broken Arrow, Okla. “I’m interested in learning another way, seeing things and getting an opportunity to do everything I’ve never done before.”

Rivers is also a nontraditional student. She has spent the last four and a half years working in a veterinary clinic and being mentored by OSU alumna Dr. Kimberly Huckaby of Broken Arrow.

“She saw something in me and has been working and shaping me and reminding me how hard it is but how blessed we are to be here and that is a privilege.  It means the world to me for her to be here (and coat me).  Today, I walked in and said man, I made it, this is awesome and I’m ready to work.”

Out-of-state veterinary student Chelsea Dunnehoo is also ready for whatever the next four years bring. “I came here for my undergraduate degree and fell in love with the campus. I have always wanted to be a veterinarian; it is something I have been dreaming about since I was a little girl,” says Dunnehoo, from Austin, Texas.  “These next four years will definitely be a challenge. I’m excited about the different opportunities and how I can serve the veterinary profession and represent OSU well in my career.”

Each member of the class of 2018 received a plain white coat which they will use during the first three years of study.  At the end of the third year, their name and veterinary emblems will be added to that same white coat as they transition to their clinical and final year of veterinary college at Oklahoma State University.  For more information about Oklahoma’s only veterinary college, visit


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