The Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA) is an organization comprised of 37 student chapters and over 16,000 student and associate members at accredited veterinary schools. SAVMA's mission is to support, empower, and inspire all veterinary students in improving their lives, education, and career, along with securing a better future through collaboration with the AVMA. By way of having a chapter of SAVMA at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (Ross Vet), students gain automatic free membership to the AVMA for the first year following graduation, reduced rates for AVMA journals and conventions, and networking opportunities; nearly 5% of the AVMA’s active members are Ross Vet alumni.
On Ross Vet’s campus, the Summer 2022 semester is the point of transition for Ross Vet’s SAVMA Executive Board to welcome new leaders that will represent and advocate for the needs of the student body. For Storm Bugh, Class of ’24 and SAVMA’s now former president, there has been an adjustment period of suddenly having much fewer responsibilities on his daily agenda: “The new semester feels odd. I have so much more free time, my email activity is way less than usual, and I don’t want to say I have less purpose, but it is a unique adjustment.”
Bugh, who is originally from Edina, Missouri, has always been a natural leader. While at the University of Missouri, he was the president of the Pre-Veterinary Club while studying for his Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. His dream of becoming a veterinarian, much like many Rossies and others that pursue veterinary medicine, started at a young age. He has always been involved with his local 4-H and Future Farmers of America, both of which are youth organizations dedicated to helping kids and teens interested in health, science, agriculture, and civic engagement become the future leaders in these fields.
He used to shadow staff at various veterinary clinics throughout high school and college, and once he was at University of Missouri he participated as a teaching assistant for courses in the equine department. It was his time with the Pre-Veterinary Club that first introduced him to Ross Vet as a potential destination for his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) pursuit. “We had a Ross Vet representative that would come every spring to talk about enrollment. When I graduated with my master’s in agriculture from Northwest Missouri State University, Ross Vet’s rolling enrollment accepting three classes a year gave me the opportunity to keep going with my academic career instead of waiting one year for the U.S. enrollment to open,” Bugh recalled. The rest is history, or as he would say, “from then on it’s just been making memories.”
Although there will be an adjustment getting used to life after his SAVMA presidency, Bugh will stay plenty busy starting his upper semesters on campus. The incumbent president, Ricardo ‘Ricky’ Alvarez, Class of ’25, wonders where Bugh found the time to be as present and as good a leader as he was during his presidency. “It has only been five days and I don’t know how Storm did it,” said Alvarez with a laugh. “It is a lot of work, but I am excited for it. I look up to Storm and all the upper semester students because the work gets harder the further you are into school. They showed us coming into our new leadership roles that it can be done, so we will get it done.”
Alvarez comes to Ross Vet from Miami, Florida, as a first-generation college graduate and American whose family immigrated from Cuba. He attended St. Thomas University in Miami where he received a bachelor’s degree in Biological Science and played on the baseball team. When a career as a professional player became too far out of reach, Alvarez shifted to his second love of animals. While in school, he started working with Rafael Gomara, DVM, a Ross Vet alumnus, at Gomara Animal Clinic. Dr. Gomara assisted Alvarez in shaping the vision of what it means to be an amazing veterinarian and encouraged him to apply to Ross Vet.
“I had interviews with three schools, and Ross Vet was the only one that I thought was really focusing on me as a person, not just the numbers, the GPA, and the test scores,” recalled Alvarez. “It was about what would make the best doctor and clinician, not just what would get the best grades on the books. Ross Vet really understands that opportunity will make a huge difference in someone’s life if you just give them a chance.”
PASSING THE SAVMA PRESIDENT'S MANTLE
Whether it was through an enrollment recruiter or an alumnus sharing their stories of Ross Vet, Bugh and Alvarez found themselves here at the right time and will always share a connection as one passes the SAVMA president’s mantle to the other. Alvarez, though, had never envisioned the president’s role for himself. He initially ran for the SAVMA class representative and delegate positions, but he would not win the election for either role. The attempts to join SAVMA’s leadership caught Bugh’s attention, who lobbied directly to Alvarez to keep an open mind about running again. With a few positions open on Bugh’s Executive Board during the Spring ‘22 semester, Alvarez assumed he would try for one of those. Bugh wanted him for a different role – his successor.
“I was quite intimidated when I first found out I would be the next president because I know I have such large shoes to fill,” said Alvarez. “I look up to Storm - he is noble with his words and actions, helpful, and eager to show everyone the right way to do things. I know I can follow in his footsteps and hopefully do as much as he did for Ross Vet. The outgoing Executive Board has welcomed all of us with open arms and really showed us what it means to have a clear vision and understanding of how to do this right. On behalf of the incoming Executive Board, we will move forward with that and keep it going. We are full of passion, energy, and commitment to making this school what everyone knows it could be.”
With the transition officially completed and Alvarez’s board now in place, Bugh reflected on his term and what he and his Executive Board are most proud of:
“During the pandemic, we rolled with the punches and did what we had to do to get through but being online we lost that personability. I wanted to bring that back to this island and community because we need those established relationships and that line of trust. As we became able to have more events and club activities, we started to see that pride and see students start to engage within their campus. ”
And with his presidency now in the rear view, Bugh continues his DVM journey with nothing but thankfulness and pride in his heart:
“Without my Executive Board and without the students, I would not be successful and have as much pride that I did as president. The board was fantastic and so interconnected, and I cannot thank them enough for standing beside me, supporting me and the students we served. To the student body, we navigated that unimaginable path that a pandemic can have on an education, so thank you for sticking with us. Finally, to the faculty, staff, and SAVMA advisors, you are the guiding point that allows SAVMA to function on this campus. You are role models, leaders in your fields, and gave us the light and inspiration to continue through tough times. I am immensely thankful for that.”