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Veterinary School Alumni Spotlights



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.