Alumni Spotlight: Bom Harris (DVM '08)
January 26, 2023
Bom Harris has been practicing in Virginia since graduating from the college in 2008. Harris hails from Birmingham, Alabama, and now resides in Beaverdam, Virginia. She is active in her community, focusing on producer and 4H education.
How VA-MD equipped me for the 'real world'...
I didn't graduate from Virginia-Maryland with all the answers, but I graduated with all the tools I needed to find the answers. I was also able to rely on trusted faculty for advice until I established my own network of colleagues in private practice. Years out, I can still call on them when I need help.
The best part of being a VMCVM alum...
The VMCVM alum network as a whole and my class specifically is truly a tight-knit family. As a class, we have experienced the joy and sadness that comes with various stages of life, and we have come together many times to support each other professionally and personally. I am more tied to this group than any group through my many stages of life and education. We remain close even though we are now scattered across the globe and see each other infrequently because we shared a very formative part of our lives and will always carry that with us.
The best advice I've gotten.
Everyone has heard it a million times, but it's true: "They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
A person who has inspired me.
Dee Whittier is a retired professor of food animal medicine who educated (and occasionally terrified) a whole generation of veterinarians at VMCVM. He took me under his wing, and I would not be doing what I do today without the time I spent with him.
What did you learn at the college that you never thought you would benefit from?
The first time I performed a rectal exam on a cow, I never imagined I would build my career around this skill. It is, of course, only a small part of the medical, surgical, and consulting services that I offer to clients, but it is the starting point for my relationship with most cattle clients. At 5 feet tall, I am shorter than most Holstein cows. This made bovine rectal palpation one of the most challenging skills I learned in vet school, but it motivates me when teaching a new generation of students.
Words of encouragement to a current veterinary college student.
You can make your veterinary career look however you want and take you wherever you want. The sky is the limit, so don't limit yourself.
Fondest college memory or tradition.
One memory I cherish is meeting my class in the Cage at 8 a.m., the morning after the last overnight clinic shifts ended the fourth year. It kicked off such a fun week before graduation celebrating our accomplishments and the lifelong bonds we formed over our four years together.
A cause I'm most passionate about.
Agvocacy – advocating for agriculture – is my most passionate cause. Agriculture comes in all shapes and sizes and is often misrepresented and misunderstood in popular media. Through my business, social media, community involvement, 4H and producer education, and board membership with organizations, including Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom, and Virginia Academy of Food Animal Practitioners, I make it a mission to educate the public and promote agriculture. Though only 2% of the U.S. population is involved in agriculture, 100% of the population eats daily, and it is important for information about our food systems to come from credible sources.
The most formative experience I've had...
I spent seven months backpacking around Europe when I was 20. I slept in train stations, tracked down long-lost family in Sicily, developed fluency in multiple languages (sadly now mostly lost), hitchhiked, and immersed myself in the people and cultures of various countries. This experience transitioned me from adolescence to adulthood and formed many memories I always carry with me.
Being a VMCVM alumnus means...
You can call up an alum who is a stranger, introduce yourself as an alum, and suddenly you aren't strangers.
Old Dominion Veterinary Services is a mobile farm animal veterinary practice serving over 20 counties in central and eastern Virginia. The practice provides herd health management and consulting, in addition to preventive, medical, surgical, and emergency veterinary care.