Class of 2018 Students Exemplified by President Maggie Thompson

Dedication. Enthusiasm. Compassion. Spirit. Those are just some of the words used by classmates and faculty to

Maggie Thompson and Merle.
Maggie Thompson and Merle.

describe Maggie Thompson, but she would be the first to point the finger back at the students in class of 2018 at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine.

The 120-member class, led by Thompson during their four years of veterinary medical education, will receive their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degrees in a commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 8, at 6 p.m. in Auburn Arena.

“I cannot make enough positive remarks about my time at Auburn and the quality of education and mentorship received,” the Andalusia, Alabama, native said. “Our professors and clinicians, who are among the most intelligent and driven individuals in our profession, are incredibly passionate about their roles as our teachers.

“They make learning a fun and interactive environment and truly emphasize the importance of practicality,” she said. “I believe Auburn veterinary graduates, as soon as they walk across the stage, are fully equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to instantly thrive in an established and successful practice and/or industry.”

Thompson has not walked the average path of a future veterinarian. Although she loves all animals, her future plans include avian medicine and working to ensure one of the nation’s largest industries, the poultry industry, remains vital in both the United States and the world. And, it’s an industry that continues to need veterinarians—providing the U.S. $469.6 billion in economic activity, according to the U.S. Egg and Poultry Association.

“My goal is to specialize in avian medicine [commercial poultry medicine],” Thompson said. “I received a Bachelor of Science degree in poultry science from Auburn and through my undergraduate experiences, I developed an interest in poultry medicine and the role a veterinarian plays in this aspect of production agriculture.

“I quickly realized that a door had opened for me to travel a less-traditional path and pursue a facet of veterinary medicine that is important in ensuring the safety of our food supply for years to come.”

Thompson spent the last eight weeks in a preceptorship program with Koch Foods, the fifth largest broiler company in the U.S., which processed approximately 50 million pounds of chicken meat in 2016.  “I reached out to Dr. Victoria Drouet-Pratt [of the Auburn veterinary class of 2010], director of veterinary services for Koch Foods, who did not hesitate when asked to host my preceptorship,” Thompson said.

Maggie Thompson in a poultry house
Maggie Thompson’s future plans include avian medicine.

“I have gained an even greater appreciation for the veterinarian’s role in the poultry industry, and it has strengthened my understanding of avian diseases as well as preventative medicine, which is centered on proper biosecurity and optimal management.”

“As a veterinarian, our science background and understanding of the pathophysiology of diseases, in combination with an understanding of best management practices, allows us to better educate and assist farmers with producing a wholesome and safe product for consumers to enjoy.”

Thompson says her career goals include working in the U.S. commercial poultry industry with professionals and farmers “to ensure that poultry production continues to be safe, wholesome and affordable.

“Most people do not realize the knowledge and technical skill involved in poultry production; so much more goes into producing a market bird than the average consumer realizes. I am passionate about education and effective communication. I hope to work alongside field service personnel, helping to communicate with and educate farmers to enable a better understanding of the relationship between management and animal health. I am just so excited to have a small role in securing the food supply for our rapidly increasing global population.”

Thompson, like most veterinary students, is an achiever with unwavering passion, and has much to show for her hard work. She was selected to receive the SGA Outstanding Student Award, voted on by students and presented to a fourth-year student who is outstanding in scholastic abilities, school activities and extracurricular activities.

Thompson was also selected as a President’s Award recipient, given to a fourth-year student in recognition of outstanding scholarship, leadership, citizenship and character.

During her four years at the college, Thompson has been recognized every year with an academic or scholarship award, including the William & Judith Harris Endowed Scholarship and the Walter J. Gibbons Memorial Award.

When she leaves Auburn, which has been home for the last eight years of undergraduate and professional education, Thompson says the friendships will remain. “The friendships I have made here are genuine and were only strengthened during our clinical year.”

“I cannot imagine experiencing this vet school journey with anyone else and I often tell my classmates that I would only repeat the past four years if they were with me,” she added.

“I truly mean it! The people of this college, my classmates included, are what makes AU CVM so special.”

(Written by Janet McCoy)