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Inaugural Blue Coat Ceremony Celebrates SDSU Professional Program in Veterinary Medicine Students

PPVM Class of 2025
The SDSU Professional Program in Veterinary Medicine Class of 2025

The first class of the SDSU professional program in veterinary medicine students were honored at the Inaugural Blue Coat Ceremony Nov, 5, where the students were presented with a personalized blue Carhartt work coat.

“We carefully selected our first class of students, all of them are exceptionally bright and committed to learning the many aspects of veterinary medicine,” said Gary Gackstetter, professor and director of the professional program veterinary medicine. “We are confident they will all contribute to both animal and public health across the upper Midwest. These new blue coats are also a symbol of our confidence in these students.”

The coats presented to each student represent not only the hard work they have completed to get to this point in their education, but the hard work ahead of them as they continue their education in veterinary medicine.

“The blue Carhartt jacket is symbolic of the hard work and dedication that the professional program in veterinary medicine will require,” said Jessica Juarez, assistant professor and assistant director of PPVM. “It is a way for our students to proudly represent SDSU and each other when out on internships and other opportunities where they can wear the jacket.”

Each coat presented at the ceremony was sponsored by a local veterinarian, symbolic of the support these students can expect as they prepare to join the profession of veterinary medicine.

“This is perhaps the most unique aspect of the SDSU blue coat ceremony,” said Russ Daly, professor, SDSU Extension veterinarian and state public heath veterinarian. “A South Dakota veterinarian purchased each coat, sometimes for a specific student they’d mentored.  This was designed not only to help forge or strengthen a bond between the veterinarian and the student, it was also symbolic of the support these students can expect from the existing community of South Dakota veterinarians as they begin their careers.”

Veterinary students celebrated at the inaugural Blue Coat Ceremony include:

  • Maria Aesoph of Orient, sponsored by Dr. John Bode from Animal Health Center in Faulkton.
  • Mackenzie Bartles of Starbuck, Minnesota, sponsored by Dr. David Zeman from Brookings.
  • Mariah Beckmann of Slayton, Minnesota, sponsored by Dr. Jennifer Stevens from Horizon Pet Care in Brandon.
  • Breanna Brown of Sabin, Minnesota, sponsored by Dr. Olivia Mellgren from Webster Veterinary Clinic in Webster.
  • Jana Bruce-Wattier of Sioux Falls, sponsored by Dr. Corale Dorn from Dells Veterinary Services in Dell Rapids.
  • Garrett Drum of Faith, sponsored by Dr. Alice Harty from Milesville.
  • Alisha Hebl of St. Paul, Minnesota, sponsored by Dr. Dave Barz from Northwest Veterinary Supply in Parkston.
  • Kitana Honkola of Eveleth, Minnesota, sponsored by Dr. Greta Krafsur from Brookings.
  • Cassie Juberien of Nicollet, Minnesota, sponsored by Dr. William Howard from Howard Veterinary Clinic in Watertown.
  • Renae Kayser of Marion, sponsored by Dr. Eric Knock from Prairie View Veterinary Clinic in Miller.
  • Marissa Keenan of South Bend, Indiana, sponsored by Dr. Heather Osnes from Oahe Veterinary Clinic in Pierre.
  • Lauren Larson of Mitchell, sponsored by Dr. Heather Lerseth-Fliehs from the Groton Veterinary Clinic.
  • Hayley Leibel of Timber Lake, sponsored by Dr. Pat Prusha from Oahe Veterinary Clinic in Mobridge, and Dr. Corale Dorn of Dells Veterinary Service in Dell Rapids.
  • Danica Loll of Wahpeton, North Dakota, sponsored by Dr. Jane Hennings from Brookings.
  • Shannon McBride of Shevlin, Minnesota, sponsored by Dr. Kay Miller from Fulton.
  • Laura Munger of Brookings, sponsored by Dr. Darcee Munsterteiger from Northern Plains Animal Health in Aberdeen.
  • Lacey Prescott of Franklin, sponsored by Dr. Mark Appelhof from Clear Lake Veterinary Clinic in Clear Lake.
  • Ana Ruiz of Watertown, sponsored by Dr. Ben Wileman from Select Genetics in Willmar, Minnesota.
  • Lauren Skogland of New Richmond, Wisconsin, sponsored by Dr. Cynthia Franklin from Animal Health Clinic in Yankton,
  • Courtney Timmer of Chaska, Minnesota, sponsored by Dr. James McKnight from Brookings.

“We are very proud of our students and very excited about starting this new tradition that will be unique to the SDSU professional program in veterinary medicine,” said John Killefer, South Dakota Corn Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. “We are so grateful for the generous support from our veterinary professionals that allowed us to begin this blue coat tradition.”

This fall, the first cohort of students began veterinary school at SDSU through the professional program in veterinary medicine in collaboration with the University of Minnesota. Students who completed the required preveterinary curriculum were able to apply to the professional program. Students who are admitted into the program will complete the first two years of their DVM degree at SDSU and then transfer to the University of Minnesota’s College of Veterinary Medicine for their final two years of study. To learn more about the program, contact Jessie Juarez, assistant director of the SDSU professional program in veterinary medicine, at or visit