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Auburn University alumnus and veterinarian Dr. Jay Price emphasized the importance of hard work, enjoying the journey and being intentional in his speech to more than 1,400 newly minted graduates at Neville Arena on Friday night.
The 2006 graduates enjoyed the opportunity to speak at their alma mater during the summer commencement ceremony.
“As a fellow alum, I would first like to commend each of you for your hard work and perseverance over the past few years,” said Price, a native of Phenix City, Alabama. “These are challenging times, and that makes your accomplishments at Auburn even more special. Your tenacity and determination to succeed have gotten you here today, and I speak for the entire Auburn family when I offer you the well-deserved congratulations.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a doctor of veterinary medicine degree, Price-founded Southern Veterinary Partners, one of the nation’s largest networks of veterinary practices. He talked about the risks of taking chances like he did in founding a conglomerate that has grown to more than 330 hospitals across 15 states.
“Creating SVP was a huge life risk, but it taught me some lessons that I want to share with you,” said Price. “No one should ever take themselves too seriously and no one should do the menial job, especially if it helps you achieve an important goal. Next, be intentional. My decision to leave veterinary practice to start SVP was quite a risk, but I was intentional about it.
“You can never go wrong with talking less and listening more, and you’ll be surprised how much you can learn by doing so. Traditions are a huge part of the Auburn experience. They are the traditions that bind us together, keep us coming back, and make it bittersweet for those of you who are leaving.
When his first application to Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine was denied, Price had a decision to make. He chose to dig in, work hard and deepen his experience and was accepted on the second try.
“It meant a lot to me because I knew how special this opportunity really is,” Price said. “I started vet school with a purpose, with a purpose and with a deep understanding of three core values that I know are the keys to success—hard work, connections, and persistence.”
Price spoke of the bonds Auburn family members enjoy over a lifetime.
“Every student has a different Auburn journey, but there are things we all share,” Price said. “When we first step onto campus as students, in this moment, when you are preparing to turn your tassels to the left—our journeys begin and end the same way, but each of us has unique moments. The connections made during this time are what make these moments special.
“Walking the concourse with friends on a spring day, the excitement and anticipation before the first fall game day, together we watched Coach Pearl and the basketball team beat every opponent to bring home the SEC title in the regular season. Like the traditions we share, these moments connect us.
Price closes with a quote from a passage from the Auburn Creed written in 1943.
“Although George Petrie wrote this line in the Auburn Creed decades ago, it has never been truer than today: ‘I believe in the human touch that fosters my sympathy and mutual aid and brings happiness to all,'” Price said. Makes a lot of sense. It keeps us together despite our differences and it binds us together whether we are the class of 1943 or the class of 2022.
“We are connected because of the values and experiences we share.”
Friday night’s address included the official conferment of more than 1,400 degrees by Auburn Board of Trustees member Quentin Riggins, as well as group recognition of undergraduates graduating with academic honors and an official welcome to the Auburn Alumni Association. Auburn President Christopher B., who took over from Jay Gough on May 16. It was the first start for Roberts.
“I am honored to be with you at my first commencement serving as president of Auburn University,” said Roberts, who personally greeted each graduate on stage during Saturday’s college ceremonies. “Earning your degree at the undergraduate, master’s or doctoral level is a significant achievement. It demonstrates your commitment to learning, especially during challenging times – and, most importantly, your ability to push through your ability to master new skills.
“Know that you have the knowledge and confidence to succeed wherever your Auburn degree takes you. From the classroom and lab to the dorm and to the organizations you’re involved with, apply everything you’ve learned here and use them to make a positive impact on the world. We’re counting on you.”
Friday night’s program was followed by individual colleges’ ceremonies on Saturday at Neville Arena, which ran from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. A total of 1,424 graduates attended the commencement ceremony and among those graduates were 341 master’s, 152 doctoral and two professional degrees. The university awarded 909 master’s degrees along with 20 specialist degrees.
More information about Auburn’s celebrations can be found on the Commencement website.