HomeSt. Matthew's University

Veterinary School Alumni Spotlights

Dr. Raeann Foster
Dr. Raeann Foste
Blacksburg, Virginia
School of Veterinary Medicine

“SMU’s Dr. Shields had such a positive impact on me I felt I could pay it forward and be a positive impact on the veterinarians of tomorrow.””

I am a 2011 SMU grad. I always thought I would go into equine medicine, but since graduating I have gone from a high volume spay/neuter clinic to small animal ER. Most recently, I accepted a position at the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine as the Multidisciplinary Lab Veterinarian/Instructor, where I am in charge of the colony of canine instructors -- the dogs used for live animal clinical skills labs. I also get the opportunity to assist the clinicians in both large and small animal areas of clinical skills. SMU’s Dr. Shields had such a positive impact on me I felt I could pay it forward and be a positive impact on the veterinarians of tomorrow. I look forward to what the future holds.

My advice for veterinary students is to always keep an open mind as you truly never know where this career will take you. You will have good days as well as bad, but remember to not let this career define you. You define your career and always follow your heart :) Oh, and you do remember more than you think you do!

Dr. Tara Mah
Dr. Tara Mah
Alberta, Canada
School of Veterinary Medicine

“Attending SMU was the best decision I ever made! Awesome faculty and small class sizes contributed to a learning experience that was second to none. As a bonus, I got to live in paradise for a couple of years.”

After working as a successful litigation lawyer in Canada for over 13 years, Tara decided to pursue her passion for veterinary medicine and attended SMU School of Veterinary Medicine. She graduated in 2013 and recently opened a full-service small animal clinic in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada.

Dr. Tiffany Horton
Dr. Tiffany Horton
San Antonio, Texas
School of Veterinary Medicine

Originally from the ranching country of west Texas, Dr. Tiffany Horton attended Texas Tech and Lubbock Christian universities as well as Palo Alto College. After working as a registered veterinary technician for a couple years, she went back to school and fulfilled a lifelong dream when she graduated from St. Matthews University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. Following graduation, Dr. Horton has furthered her knowledge of alternative medicine studying acupuncture, chiropractic, and postural rehabilitation. She is currently the medical director of a busy small animal hospital in San Antonio, Texas. Always having a passion for nutrition, Dr. Horton has recently started a series featured on Instagram and Facebook where she offers nutrition advice to pet owners.

When asked about her experience of attending St. Matthews University, Dr. Horton is always enthusiastic in sharing that the education was top notch and relationships built with colleagues from around the world priceless.>

Dr. Thomas Jinkinson, DVM, MS, MBA
Dr. Thomas Jinkinson
Nicollet, Minnesota
School of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Jinkinson is a 2011 graduate of St Matthews University School of Veterinary Medicine. Originally from the Ottawa Valley in Ontario, Canada, he obtained his B.Sc at the University of Guelph before getting his DVM at St Matthews University. In 2015, he completed an M.S in agricultural economics from Purdue University and obtained an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He currently manages the health and nutrition at Davis Family Dairies in Minnesota, a 19,000 head Jersey dairy farm. Tom has always had a passion for animal well-being and has committed his career and life to producing wholesome food from animals with the highest standards of health, comfort and stewardship. When he isn’t working, he is a hobby bee keeper and enjoys training his Fox Red Labrador and Deutsch Drahthaar.

Dr. Marika Kolegue
New Zealand
School of Veterinary Medicine

“I was able to study the field I love, learning next to classmates that became my new family, all while living in a tropical paradise that people travel across the world to visit.”

From a young age, I knew I wanted to be a veterinarian. Starting in middle school, when my family would take our animals to the vet, I loved to observe, question and try to assist the doctor. In high school, I shadowed our local veterinarian. He helped me gain appreciation and understanding for this medical field and developed my awareness of the impact that I had not only on the animals, but on the owners too.

After graduating high school, I attended the University of Florida and majored in Animal Science. While in school, I worked as an anesthesia assistant, a microbiology lab assistant, and a large animal surgery technician. These positions helped me gain experience and built a foundation that was critical for my success in vet school. I ended up accepting a spot in St. Matthew’s University, School of Veterinary Medicine, Class of 2013. It remains one of the best decisions of my life! I was able to study the field I love, learning next to classmates that became my new family, all while living in a tropical paradise that people travel across the world to visit. I still pinch myself that I had this extraordinary opportunity.

I used the skills and knowledge from SMU as a launch pad for my professional career. My first full time position was at a two doctor veterinary clinic in Austin, Texas. The doctor that I worked for gave me the freedom to develop my skills with surgery, and continue to grow in my medical knowledge. When I struggled and had questions, she was there to assist and guide me through some of the big learning curves that a new vet will go through when they first start practicing. It was an incredible start of my veterinary career, but I knew I wanted to explore a job with cattle or public health, so I started looking for new career opportunities. I accepted a position in August 2015 with the Ministry for Primary Industries in New Zealand! This was nerve racking, but like when we all moved to Grand Cayman, I was ready to step out of my comfort zone and try something completely new.

My current role is best described as a government auditor. I am based at livestock processing plants that are exporting their products overseas. I work alongside talented international veterinarians to ensure the plants we support are compliant with New Zealand and oversea countries’ rules, regulations and requirements. The two primary functions of this role are to ensure proper animal welfare and food safety for the end consumers.

Making the jump and moving to New Zealand has allowed me to participate in many unique opportunities. I’ve become actively involved in agricultural animal welfare, participated in disease outbreak responses, and provide educational experiences for the farming community. It’s been an amazing opportunity for me. I intend to stay here and continue to develop my international veterinary experience while exploring, hiking, and experiencing some of the best areas and foods the world has to offer.

Dr Sarah Wilson
Dr. Sarah Wilson, BScH, DVM
Born: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Current home: Sacramento, CA, USA
School of Veterinary Medicine

"I know that St. Matthew’s University played a major role in my success, and would recommend others take the first step towards their ultimate goals!”

Being a veterinarian was a lifelong dream of mine, and I took steps my entire educational career to fulfill that dream. St Matthew’s University (SMU) allowed me to reach that ultimate goal, and I will forever be thankful for the opportunity and education attained at SMU!

As long as I can remember I always wanted to be a veterinarian, and I did anything I could to be around animals. We had dogs, cats, and birds growing up, I took horseback riding lessons, and I volunteered at animal shelters when I could. My official start within the veterinary industry was during my university summers working as a veterinary assistant at a pet hospital in Ottawa, Canada while I finished my honours major in Animal Biology at the University of Guelph. After finishing my degree in 2003, I worked at a conservation safari park in Hamilton, Canada as an animal care attendant. I worked around a wide array of animals including lions, tigers, giraffes, nilgai, and rhinoceros to name a few, but soon realized I wanted more clinical, hands on experience. I returned to the University of Guelph and became a registered veterinary technician, which allowed me to gain technical and clinical experience in small animal practice over the next two years at a veterinary clinic in downtown Guelph, Canada. After two years as a technician, I realized that my dream of being a veterinarian still needed to be achieved, and after a Carnival Cruise with my cousin, I came across SMU. I scheduled a visit with faculty and a senior veterinary student while on shore leave, and realized that SMU and a career as a veterinarian was in my future.

While at SMU from 2010-2012, I was deeply involved in school activities as well as academic teaching positions. I really appreciated that SMU had clubs with extra-curricular activities to augment learning while on the Island. I participated in many clubs typical of a veterinary school in North America: Food Animal Club, Student Chapter of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, Student Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society Chapter, Student Chapter of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition, and the Zoological, Exotics & Wildlife Medicine Club. These clubs offered multiple wet labs and hands on opportunities either at SMU’s animal care facility, local horse and cattle farms, Cayman Turtle Centre, or with local rescue groups. I participated as an officer in many clubs, but an additional benefit to obtaining my veterinary degree at SMU was the location. Due to the island’s reefs and ample marine life, I was able to extensively participate in the Marine Research Club, which allowed us opportunities to perform research dives monitoring local coral and marine life in the area. I was able to work with the Department of the Environment of the Cayman Islands to organize a lionfish culling certification for all our members and interested locals, and we regularly participated in beach clean ups, lionfish culls, and fishing line clean up dives. This ability to participate with the locals and improve the magnificent Caribbean environment set SMU apart. Another incredible opportunity afforded to myself, as well as many SMU students, was the ability to participate in the Marine Veterinary Medicine Workshop (MARVET). This is a yearly workshop offered to a small group of veterinary students interested in marine medicine. SMU students can volunteer to help with the workshop and are able to participate in some of the wet labs where you may learn how to draw blood from a turtle or anesthetize a fish. Academically, I found SMU professors to be genuinely interested in each students’ success. They provided teaching assistants (TA) for students who needed help with the material, and offered teaching assistant positions for students who excelled and needed financial aid. I participated as a virology TA, parasitology TA, and an anatomy TA, which helped solidify my knowledge and help with finances. Other opportunities to help pay for school were also available, and during my time at SMU I was awarded the Pfizer Animal Health Scholarship.

One of the draws of SMU was the ability to attend either American or Canadian veterinary schools during your clinical year. After two years and four months in paradise (Grand Cayman), I returned to Canada for my clinical year in 2013 and attended the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. After my clinical year, I was offered a small animal rotating internship at WCVM in 2014 and really enjoyed both dermatology and internal medicine rotations. After completing my internship at WCVM I continued as a clinical associate at WCVM working with the internal medicine department, helping train incoming interns and senior veterinary students. In August 2015, I started a residency in Small Animal Clinical Nutrition at the University of California – Davis, where I studied and worked for two years in the Nutrition Support Service. As a resident at UC Davis I had the opportunity to work with many patients including oncology, neurology, cardiology, dentistry, internal medicine, and dialysis patients. I managed critical cases with parenteral or enteral nutrition as well as consulted with veterinarians around the world on their complex patients’ nutritional needs. I also helped teach veterinary students in every year, and completed a research project which will be published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Upon completion of my board examination in June 2018, I hope to join colleagues as a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, and bring clinical nutrition to the forefront of caring for hospitalized and healthy pets. I’ve truly enjoyed every step of my career thus far, and am excited for what the future holds. I know that St. Matthew’s University played a major role in my success, and would recommend others take the first step towards their ultimate goals!

Dr. Joseph A. D'Abbraccio
Monticello, New York
School of Veterinary Medicine

"My experiences at St. Matthew's University have been extraordinary and I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to attend school in the Cayman Islands."

I have been working in the veterinary field for the past 10 years and have enjoyed every day just as much as I did the first day I started. Prior to attending St. Matthew's I went to the State University of New York at Delhi where I completed a degree in Veterinary Science Technology in May 2008. After graduating I successfully passed my veterinary technician national board exam and was granted licensure to practice as a veterinary technician in New York State. After graduating I worked at two veterinary hospitals in New York, providing care for a wide range of companion animals. I started at St. Matthew's University in January 2009 and from that point forward I have had an outstanding experience. St. Matthew's, unlike the other veterinary programs I looked into, had the smallest class sizes and was easily accessible from the New York area, making it a much more appealing program to me.

While attending school in Grand Cayman I became very active in student organizations, as well as held multiple teaching assistant positions. I was one of the founding members of the university's Student Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (SVECCS) chapter. The university was overwhelmingly supportive in allowing the organization conduct additional laboratory sessions for members to learn advanced procedures as well as participate in an active emergency on-call program with local practitioners. A program such as the one the organization established would not have been as successful at many other schools -- thus, giving SMU students a huge educational advantage. In 2010 I was elected the National President of the SVECCS organization, which is responsible for governing 35 different sub-chapters all over the world. Being the president of the organization allowed me to represent St. Matthew's on a greater scale as well as develop relationships with industry and veterinary leaders. For two years I organized various activities, improved membership programs, and assisted with the International Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Symposium (IVECCS), an international conference.

Academic excellence and success is very important at St. Matthew's and because of this the university provides free tutoring to all students that seek assistance. Many other schools provide tutoring services however students have to pay for these services out of pocket, a less than ideal situation for many students. I have a very strong interest in teaching and therefore held the position of Anatomy Teaching Assistant (TA) for a year and a half as well as Clinical Teaching Assistant for our Surgical/Laboratory Center. During my time as a TA I was able to help underclassmen learn various topics as well as enhance their classes with clinical applications from what I was presently learning in upper level classes. I know relationships and mentoring between students can be invaluable.

I attended North Carolina State University (NCSU) for my final year of clinical rotations. The education that I received while in Grand Cayman in addition to the extra activities I was involved in, have proved invaluable during my time at NCSU. The preparation for clinical duty that I received was of the highest standards and I was able to excel during my final year of veterinary school. The degree of comfort I had allowed me to dive deeper into my clinical experiences, and thus allowed me to take even more away from the cases I was caring for at NCSU. The training I received while in Grand Cayman gave me the tools to be a great veterinarian!

I have returned to Orange County, New York to take a position as an associate veterinarian as well as an emergency clinician. Due to the wide array of animals I was exposed to while at St. Matthew's I am comfortable seeing anything from a hamster to a Clydesdale. This is something that has allowed me to become highly flexible and has made finding a job much easier than other veterinary graduates I know. In addition to my practice duties I have also taken a position as an adjunct professor at a veterinary technology program in the Hudson Valley.

My experiences at St. Matthew's University have been extraordinary and I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to attend school in the Cayman Islands. I have always wanted to be a veterinarian and now I have met that goal thanks to St. Matthew's.