I can’t believe we’re graduating. How did this happen? It seems like we just had our first day. You remember: I was late. And you were so eager and … well dressed. I guess you thought they were serious about the dress code. Here we were at this exciting new school all wondering what was going to happen next. There were so many different kinds of people. Lifelong Southern California residents mixed with sweet girls from Indiana, business people changing careers, single mothers, dedicated shelter advocates, former police officers, a Marine, and … Sacco.

We had to wonder how this diverse group of strong leaders could ever work as a team. But we made it though that first week of obstacle courses and “bump-quacks” and I think we started to grow on each other. And then it was time to get serious and we started our first day of PBL, even though most of us still didn’t really know what PBL was. It seems like the first two years just became a blur of acronyms and heated arguments about recourses and learning issues. We started talking about textbook authors as if they were our close personal friends. We stopped keeping track of current events and we immersed ourselves in OCD, MCB, HGE, MDC, CHF and PBL.

And just when we became totally unable to converse with anyone outside our program, they sent us out into the world. And oh what a world it was. Long commutes, longer hours, and even closer quarters with our beloved classmates. We traveled all over California, exploring fields of veterinary medicine some of us had only experienced in out vet issues presentations. At each site, we’d hear news of our classmates’ adventures; who had gotten to do certain procedures, or contracted crypto, or fallen off a walking bridge.

When third year came to an end, we felt ready to be on our own and choose out own paths. But I missed the support and comradery on every first day. And I wished I had someone to share every bittersweet parting when each rotation ended. I still hear stories of your exploits from time to time, over e-mail or at a popular site. But over time, they’ve come to sound less like amusing misadventures and more like professional accomplishment. Somehow, the group of people who struggled that first week to help each other cross an imaginary lava pit have come together with faculty and staff to form a real family.

We’ve battled through the growing pains and sleepless nights. We survived the traffic, the tough-love faculty and preceptors, the exam week stress colitis, the personal relationships stretched to the very limit by our absence and constant need for support, and all the people who said that this could never work. We forged through even our own self-doubt.

Between the confusion and the exhaustion, each of us has painstakingly carved out our own education. We have sacrificed so much and fought so hard for this day. When we were in the trenches, it seemed like each phase would never end, and now I almost wish it never would. But all good things must end. So by popular demand and for the final time, I present the top ten reasons why I wish we didn’t have to graduate:

10. I don’t know how to do anything else anymore.

9. We won’t be able to say “I’ll go ask the doctor”

8. No more free VIN membership

7. I no longer have the attention span to do the same job for more than four weeks at a time

6. I’m really going to miss disbursement day

5. We will never ever be able to pay back the debt that we owe. Not just the money, but the overwhelming debt that we all owe to the friends and family who’ve kept us going along the way

4. I am afraid that no one will ever push us quite as hard or believe in us much as Pep or Dr. J or any of our beloved faculty have

3. I am quite certain that I will never be able to organize my live as well as Anna and Renee have organized it in the past four years

2. We’ll never be able to come back to campus after a long adventure in veterinary medicine, to find your classmates and faculty welcoming you with open arms.

1. And the number one reason I don’t want vet school to end is that we have to go our separate ways. The best thing about going to vet school at Western has always been the people. And I know that I will never feel as much a part of any team or community as I do right now.

I know that I will always be proud I went to Western. But I am truly honored to have taken this journey with you. Wherever this wild profession takes you, I know you will be successful. And I can’t wait to hear about your exploits. To the faculty, staff, family and friends who have made this possible. You deserve congratulations too, because we couldn’t have done it without you. To the students who have shared this great adventure. We came here from many backgrounds and for many different reasons. We learned to support one another and to celebrate each other’s victories as our own. We have persevered through every obstacle. This wasn’t the easiest path to take, but if I knew you would be there I’d do it all again. Congratulations “very soon to be” doctors. You have earned it.