What you need to know:
- They graduated from veterinary medicine school in 1988 and for the first time.
- Twenty five of them met last week to share experiences on aging gracefully and helping upcoming vets.
This December marks 33 years since I graduated from veterinary medicine school. I still vividly recall the vice-chancellor of the university telling us that we had been given the power to read and do all that appertains the degree.
At that time though, I didn’t understand the full meaning of the words.
In the years of practice as a veterinary surgeon, I have come to learn that the most important part of university education is “to do all that appertains”. Many people blame university training for the failures of performance by graduates and the education system but they fail to interrogate the graduates on their attitude towards full utilisation of their training.
I agree there are some failures in the education system and training but I believe most of the deficiencies we see in our graduates can be attributed to a culture that has permeated the society, propagated by most of our political and governance leaders. There are many examples of leaders who demonstrate that one can excel without working hard and honestly.
You see, the young of all animals, including humans, learn by copying the actions of their elders and noting what is beneficial in the environment, what is harmful and what is neutral. They learn to exploit what is useful, avoid harm by various methods and not spend time and energy on what is neutral. The capacity to survive in an environment is inbuilt in all species of animals, including micro-organisms.
Last Friday, running up to Sunday, replayed our graduation day. Some 25 of us congregated at the Maanzoni Lodge in Machakos to commemorate the 33 years we have been reading and doing all that appertains to our degree.
The theme of the meeting was “aging gracefully”. Very appropriate because most of the members, save two, are in the middle to the early final segment of middle age. The age bracket was 56 to 71 years. The older members joined the first year after studying for diploma education and worked at that level.
Our graduation cohort is called Bachelor of Veterinary (BVM) Class 88. This was a very cohesive, united and nationally balanced cohort. It goes to show that national cohesion and unity can be achieved when merit is applied in decision-making.
Some of us had never met since we graduated thus the Friday meeting bridged the 33 years we had not seen each other.
A few members of the cohort conceived the idea of the meeting and in two months, members were contacted and invited to attend. We accounted for everyone except two whose contacts we did not get.
We all agreed it was time to take stock of our experiences and share on how to proceed with the future.
Being scientists, our first order of business after thanks-giving prayers was to take stock of our attrition.
Yes, 16 of our colleagues had exited the world over the period out of the 81 we graduated. That translated to one death every two years.
We shared experiences and time flew very quickly. The accounts of the various members were enlightening, hilarious, educative and highly varied. Literally, none had trodden a path similar to the other because of the various environments and circumstances they had operated and continue to operate in.
Many of the members had advanced their education to different levels and also diversified to various fields of knowledge and the economy. Majority held senior positions in private and public organisations.
Some were entrepreneurs in animal health and other industries. There were two politicians. A number were renowned professors in reputable universities locally and internationally.
Seven of the members were working in Europe, US and Canada as permanent immigrants or on job assignments. It was clear BVM Class 88 members had understood and executed the VC’s order to go out into the world and do all that appertains to their degree.
Members identified aging gracefully as the main challenge in their lives. In all cases, the empty nest syndrome naturally resonated. The members are at the age where their children have all left or are about to leave the parents’ homes.
An expert speaker on the subject advised the participants to plan their lives around the communities they live in. “Old age is lonely if social investment lacks in your plan,” he advised.
The parting shot from the speaker was an eerie caution. He said successful members of the society are givers but givers must learn when to stop giving because takers never stop taking on their own.