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School of Veterinary Medicine Student Spotlights



Paul Di Biase
Toronto, Canada
School of Veterinary Medicine
 
 
 

“The community at SMU and on island is very friendly and helpful.”

I am from Toronto, Canada. Veterinary school was not my original career choice in undergraduate school. I have a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a Major in Accounting and a Minor in Entrepreneurship. I always had a passionate love for animals and my family has been breeding German Shepherds for over 30 years. This helped me to come to the realization that I could not think of a better fit than being a veterinarian one day.

In my spare time I love to play bass guitar, hockey, and soccer. However, living in the Cayman Islands has added more interests to my list! I am now an avid scuba diver (no prior experience), along with other island activities, such as snorkeling, running on the beach and painting. I have always been a dog person, but on island I am fostering a cat from the Humane Society. Having a pet companion on the island is a daily reminder of why I really love this profession. In school, I contribute towards organizing yoga sessions for the student body. These sessions occur weekly through the Integrative Veterinary Medicine Club (IVMC). This is a new club that I started at SMU with the help of my fellow friends and colleagues. I am also the Treasurer of the Veterinary Business Management Association (VBMA), Secretary of the Surgery Club and Treasurer of SAVMA here at SMU.

The community at SMU and on island is very friendly and helpful. When I first arrived on island, I did not have a car, but neighbors and fellow peers always offered rides instantly. Sometimes I would enjoy walking home from school on the beach which is unheard of at any school in Canada. To get to school was close, convenient and safe. My apartment is also near the beach, which is something I love. I am so grateful to be able to experience the island as a resident. Grand Cayman is a small place but there are many things to see and experience. Some of my most notable experiences on the island were taking part in the Marine Veterinary course (MARVET), fundraisers, parasailing, horseback riding, paddle boarding, obtaining my scuba diving license, school beach BBQ's, Sunday brunches and Pirates Week.

Breanna Clooney
Victoria, BC, Canada
School of Veterinary Medicine
 
 
 

“There is always someone ready to give you a helping hand in classes, be it a fellow student or professor. I have found the small classes very beneficial for forming relationships with professors.”

I am from Victoria, BC, Canada. I grew up riding horses and with dogs as family pets. After coming to Grand Cayman, I lived in the Residence Halls for my first semester, and then moved into an apartment close to the university campus with a fellow student.

Since coming to St. Matthew’s, I have been very involved on and off campus. I have been a teaching assistant for many classes, and I also help exercise and care for the university’s teaching animals. In my fifth semester, I became the President of the Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) Chapter at St. Matthew’s. I am involved in many school clubs, including the American Association of Equine Practitioners Club as Vice-President, and the Food Animal Medicine and Shelter Clubs as Secretary.

I also volunteer with Cowboy Town Stables, a local therapeutic riding school. This volunteering has been a great opportunity to make friends outside of the St. Matthew’s school community. Through the Shelter Club, I help walk the dogs at the Humane Society and socialize with the cats. It is a great opportunity to hang out with friends while giving back to the community.

St. Matthew’s is a small school, which means there is a large sense of community in and between each semester’s students. There is always someone ready to give you a helping hand in classes, be it a fellow student or professor. I have found the small classes very beneficial for forming relationships with professors, which is not an easy task in other universities with 125 or more per class.

Nick Anderson
Green Bay, Wisconsin
School of Veterinary Medicine

My name is Nick Anderson. I'm from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Before attending school on the island I went to a small private school for undergrad where I majored in Biology and minored in Spanish, Business, and Chemistry. As a student on the island, I lived in the resident suites for one semester and then moved to an off-campus apartment with a classmate of mine. I also adopted a cat from the Humane Society on the island. To get around Cayman, I choose to own a car but I also bought a bicycle on the island.

Since coming to St. Matthew's I have been heavily involved around campus. I have also had the pleasure of working in the library since my second semester. I worked as an anatomy lab assistant, anatomy TA, and a SMOLE facilitator since my second semester. Also during my second semester I was the class representative. I was involved in several clubs such as the Zoologic, Exotics and Wildlife club - Historian, Marine Research Club - Secretary, Student Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society, American Association of Equine Practitioners, and the American Animal Hospital Association. I was the SAAVMA president for an entire year. Outside of school, I enjoy running, being outside, snorkeling and scuba diving, learning about marine life and being involved in as many things as possible, including CrossFit. I also participate in Sunday Football League (soccer) on the island.

Theresa Thompson
Green Bay, Wisconsin
School of Veterinary Medicine

“There are many local attractions that I try to enjoy at least once per semester, including the Cayman Turtle Farm, Dolphin Discovery, the botanical gardens, the shops in George Town and the endless miles of white sandy beaches.”



Veterinary Focus: I am interested in small animal veterinary medicine and companion exotics. I would also like to consider board certification for orthopedics.

Academic background: I graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee with a Bachelors of Science, majoring in biology. Outside of my veterinary degree, I am concurrently enrolled in the online MBA - with a concentration in Health Care Management program, for which I take one 7 week course each semester.

Animal Experience: I've worked in a small animal practice for 6 years; I have a little large animal experience-mostly just dairy cows; I worked in an immunology research lab for 3 years while in my undergrad; I interned/volunteered at a zoo working with seals and sea lions for 4 years

Pets: I have a 5 year old female Lhasa Apso and a 2 year old male German Shepherd.

5 Year Plan: After graduating from veterinary school I plan to work for my long time small animal veterinarian back home and eventually purchase the practice from the owner.

Hobbies: I love to spend time with my family and friends, especially now that I only see them for a few weeks at a time. I also like to run, either at the gym or on the beach!

What do you like to do when you are not studying? Life on the island is peaceful. During my downtime I love to walk the beach either with some friends or with "Snoopy", my weekend foster dog. There are many local hangouts for students where we like to relax and grab a bite to eat and the occasional umbrella drink! There are many local attractions that I try to enjoy at least once per semester, including the Cayman Turtle Farm, Dolphin Discovery, the botanical gardens, the shops in George Town and the endless miles of white sandy beaches.

Jariyaporn “Pinky” Uttayaya-Andrews
Jacksonville, FL
School of Veterinary Medicine

“Coming in as a transfer student, you always wonder how well you will be received by others and how you will fit in, but it was not a problem. In fact I was welcomed by all and it made moving to the island more pleasurable.”



I came to St. Matthew’s University as a transfer student and the transition was a pretty smooth one. The staff at the Orlando office was great and they helped make my transition as painless as possible. Coming in as a transfer student, you always wonder how well you will be received by others and how you will fit in, but it was not a problem. In fact I was welcomed by all and it made moving to the island more pleasurable. One of the most appealing aspects for choosing SMU is the small student to faculty ratio. This was an important criterion for me because it allows you to know the professors and the professors to know you, which is exactly the case when I came to Grand Cayman. The faculty is great also in that they all have an open door policy and are easily approachable and want to see the students succeed. Another deciding factor is the accelerated curriculum. Plus you can’t beat being on a beautiful island and the warm weather!

Coming from a family of medical doctors, I’ve always enjoyed medicine and taking care of others. It wasn’t until I had my first pet that I knew veterinary medicine was the field for me. I worked as a vet tech for a few years in both private practices and emergency medicine, which were great experiences because it only solidified the fact that I wanted to pursue a career as a veterinarian. I love being the voice for the animals and educating the clients on how to care for their furry companions. My interest in veterinary medicine is geared towards Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation and Nutrition.

I already had a friend on the island that showed me the ways around the island and helped to make my transition as smooth as possible. That was extremely helpful since I was leaving my husband and three dogs back home. The students and faculty also helped to make the transition an easy one especially through their Veterinary Leadership Experience (VLE) program. Everyone is like family and for the remainder of my time here, this is my home away from home.

With SMU still being a young school, there is much potential for growth and many opportunities available for the students, such as various wet labs held by the student clubs and involvement with Marvet during the summer. We get visiting professors with exceptional credentials to come and teach certain classes. We also have faculty that are very knowledgeable in their fields. My involvement at SMU includes being the SAAVMA (Student Association of the Veterinary Medical Association) Social Chair, President of ZEW (Zoological, Exotics, and Wildlife) Medicine Club, Treasurer of Animal Nutrition Club, Secretary of CRRC (Coral Reef Research Club), and Secretary of Behavior Medicine Club. I also assist with VLE during orientation as well as being a TA/Tutor. In my spare time, I love to go to the beach, go diving, play all types of sports, workout, hang with friends and just have a good time and enjoy life!

Chris Winslow
Las Vegas, Nevada
School of Veterinary Medicine

“I felt at home on the island, and it was nice to apply to a school that wanted my application, not just my application fee.”



There is no vet school in my home state (NV) so I knew I had to move a good distance no matter what, which freed me to look at foreign schools. As a non-traditional student, I felt I could be at a disadvantage with the VMCAS system, and frankly it seems long, drawn out, and expensive, with little chance of success. If you have to complete 2 cycles, by the time you begin school you could be almost done with basic science at SMU. I had always wanted to study abroad but it hadn't worked out in my undergraduate career, and this felt like a second chance. How many of those do we get in life? I came down to visit the island and tour the school and I was reassured by my visit. I felt at home on the island, and it was nice to apply to a school that wanted my application, not just my application fee. If I were going to pay out of state tuition anyway and move far away, I wanted to make it as much of an experience as possible rather than "just" school.

For a long time I thought I wanted to be a human physician but I knew something about that didn't quite fit. So I hesitated, entering and staying in the workforce for a few extra years rather than going to graduate or professional school while I tried to figure it out. Once it dawned on me that what I wanted was to be an animal doctor it all clicked into place. It sounds a bit cliché after the fact, but it really was a eureka moment for me. I had the medicine part right but had been focusing on the wrong animal(s). Once I knew what I wanted I wasted no time in going back to school to complete the prerequisites and put in my application.

The small class size is wonderful in that we get to know all of our instructors. We have a nice diverse group of students from all over North America, and we're able to study with visiting instructors who are prominent in their fields. I love being on the island and living close to the beach - I get to go diving, and often I'll take my notes out to the beach and study by the water.

I was asked by Dr. Shields, Co-leader of the MarVet program and Assistant Professor of Veterinary Medicine, to assist with our version of the VLE (veterinary leadership experience, pioneered at WSU). I was surprised and honored to be asked, and I've been helping with orientation ever since. I enjoy being able to meet the incoming students and hopefully help them feel more comfortable as they settle in. I served on student government for 2 semesters as my class representative, and I am involved in the Behavior Medicine club, Food Animal Medicine club, ZEW Exotics and Wildlife club, and I am the vice president of our student AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) club.