Graduation weekend is something you’ll always remember.
All those years of hard work and late nights finally being rewarded in a giant celebration. Amid a sea of caps, gowns, hugs, pictures and tears, you receive your degree, officially welcoming you into your profession.
We were proud to celebrate our latest class over the weekend, but we didn’t just honor the new veterinarians.
Three of our alums were honored with awards earned through the amazing work they’ve done since their graduation ceremonies. Here are the three winners:
Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
The Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award recognizes the success of an alumnus/a who has made significant contributions to his/her profession and industry while embodying the University’s purpose, vision and values.
Dr. April Gessner Deddens
A 2013 RUSVM graduate, Dr. Gessner Deddens has always had a passion for helping provide free veterinary care to the animals of the world who otherwise would not receive care. That’s why she founded Ross VIDA in 2011 while still a student on island. The organization is still providing free veterinary care to the animals and pets of St. Kitts today, while giving students invaluable hands-on experience. She was also the campus coordinator for VIDA trips to Central America and was fortunate enough to volunteer in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala during veterinary school.
She is currently a member of World Vets and has volunteered in Paraguay, Cambodia and Nepal, and will soon be in Laos providing free veterinary care and high volume spay neuter clinics to the most impoverished areas of the world.
Dr Gessner Deddens has been an ER veterinarian since graduation and currently lives in North Carolina with her husband (a veterinary radiologist), her daughter and three cats.
Distinguished Service/Research Award
The Distinguished Service/Research Award recognizes a member of the alumni community who has demonstrated meritorious service to the profession of veterinary medicine through personal activities, service to the veterinary community and research within the veterinary field and/or professional accomplishments.
Dr. Steven Haymore
A 2009 RUSVM graduate, Dr. Haymore didn’t waste much time giving back to his home state of Idaho. He currently owns Alpine Animal Hospital, a six-doctor, mixed-animal practice in Pocatello, Idaho. Before that he worked at the Idaho Falls Veterinary Emergency Clinic for 9 years, and he has worked as the veterinarian for Zoo Idaho in Pocatello since 2010.
Beyond that, he has served on the Board of Directors for the Pocatello Animal Shelter. He is a guest lecturer at the Idaho State University School of Pharmacy, where he teaches a Veterinary Medicine course. He served for 3 years in the Eastern Idaho Veterinary Medical Association and was its president in 2013. Dr. Haymore is currently serving a 4 year-term in the Idaho Veterinary Medical Association, where he is currently the Vice President. He has also been nominated twice to attend the annual AVMA meetings in Chicago, attending both times as an Emerging LeaderHe even volunteers with the Bannock Humane Society since 2010, helping with low-cost spays and neuters and weekly vaccine clinics.
Dr. Haymore has been married to his wife, Haley, for the past 17 years and is the proud father of five children; two girls and three boys.
Alumni Rising Star Award
The Alumni Rising Star Award recognizes a member of the alumni community who has graduated in the last 10 years and has already achieved early career success.
Dr. Chad Harris
A 2012 RUSVM graduate, Dr. Harris has taken an interest in aquatic veterinary medicine and done incredible things. While working at the North Austin Animal Hospital (NAAH) in Austin, Texas, he became an active member of the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association, where he was elected as a Director-at-Large. In 2015, he became Chief of Staff of NAAH, and in 2016, he became the Chief of Staff Adviser for VetCor Texas.
While working as an associate, Dr. Harris helped start the TVMF PALS program, which is a collaboration between the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation and Meals on Wheels. Through this program, Meals on Wheels clients who are enrolled in the program are provided veterinary care free of charge to their pets, ensuring they will remain happy, healthy and in their homes for as long as possible.
Dr. Harris took over as President of the Texas Veterinary Medicine Foundation in 2017, and has helped grow the TVMF PALS program from Austin to Dallas, Bryan/College Station, Houston and Abilene. Shortly after assuming his role as president of TVMF, Hurricane Harvey hit Southeast Texas over several days, resulting in catastrophic flooding. Dr. Harris was able to gain donations through the TVMF in excess of $400,000, which were directly given back to the veterinary community. Funds were used to help reunite lost pets, provide medical care to animals in the disaster and even help rebuild several practices. The TVMF was named a "Harvey Hero" by the Houston SPCA for its efforts in aiding the community through this disaster.