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Tuskegee awards 66 DVM degrees, honors three alumni

May 10, 2018

Brittney Dabney, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing
Anissa L. Riley, Director, Office of External Affairs, College of Veterinary Medicine

Vet Med Graduates and Dean stand at Booker T. Washington Monument
Veterinary Medicine Graduates and Dean stand in front of the
Booker T. Washington Monument.

The Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine celebrated the accomplishments of its 66 graduates during its annual spring commencement on May 5 in the Tuskegee University Chapel. During the ceremony, it also presented three alumni with its Distinguished Veterinary Alumni Awards.

Dr. Diarra Blue, a 2009 Tuskegee graduate and star of the Animal Planet’s “The Vet Life,” challenged the graduates in his keynote address.

“You will draw on the experiences you’ve had at Tuskegee,” he said. “Understand what you know and learn what you know, that’s wisdom. And make sure you bring your legacy back to Tuskegee.”

He reminded them, with their new degrees hanging on their walls, they will represent Tuskegee throughout their careers. “You will have to make sure that when people see you, they see Tuskegee University as well, after all its because of Tuskegee University the reason you’re in this place today,” he said.

Along with his “The Vet Life” co-stars –– Tuskegee veterinary medicine alumni Dr. Michael Lavigne III ’07 and Dr. Aubrey Ross II ’07 –– serve as business partners for their successful veterinary practice in Cypress, Texas –– Cy-Fair Animal Hospital. Their practice is dedicated to providing exceptional quality veterinary care through educating the community, and training and mentoring future and new veterinarians.

During his address, Blue spoke to the graduates about the need to render service throughout the veterinary community as well as in their professional careers.

“Understand as much as you are a veterinarian, you are still of service to the world. It is very important for you to understand that in your service, you remain humble,” he said. “Every person that will walk through your door will have an expectation of your service. They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Along with receiving their DVM degrees, graduates were hooded and accepted the Veterinarian’s Oath.

In addition to Dr. Blue’s message to the graduates, Dr. Ruby Perry, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine, honored three of the college’s alumni with the Presidential Distinguished Alumni Award. The recipients included:

  • Dr. Thomas C. Branch ’81 is the founder of Oporto Animal Clinic and partner with The Emergency and Specialty Animal Medical Center located in Birmingham, Alabama. Branch previously served as a member of the college’s Dean’s Advisory Committee. His professional memberships include the Tuskegee Veterinary Medical Alumni Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association and a host of other professional organizations.
  • Dr. Jan Strother ’86 served as the T.S. Williams Lecturer for the annual Veterinary Medical Symposium for which the Tuskegee Veterinary Medical Alumni Association serves as a participating partner with the college. Strother’s industry responsibilities include chairing the Alabama Veterinary Medical Foundation Board of Directors and representing Alabama Veterinary Medical Association District III members in Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
  • Dr. Diarra Blue ’09, the ceremony’s commencement speaker.

The 66-member class of 2018 included students from Alabama as well as 17 other states: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. The class also included international students hailing from Puerto Rico, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The students graduating in 2018 are the 69th class to receive their DVM degrees from Tuskegee University. With this graduation, the College of Veterinary Medicine has awarded more than 3,000 doctoral degrees.

The Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine is the only veterinary medical professional program located on the campus of a historically black college or university (HBCU) in the United States. The college has educated more than 70 percent of the nation’s African-American veterinarians and 10 percent of Hispanic/Latino veterinarians, and it is recognized as the most diverse of all 30 schools/colleges of veterinary medicine in the U.S. Its primary mission is to provide an environment that fosters a spirit of active, independent and self-directed learning, intellectual curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, ethics and leadership; and promotes teaching, research and service in veterinary medicine and related disciplines.

Tuskegee University’s commencement-related events will conclude with the university’s 133rd Spring Commencement Exercises, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. om Saturday, May 12. For more information about these events, visit

© 2018, Tuskegeee University