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Oklahoma State University
Center for Veterinary Health Sciences

Healthy Animals - Healthy People

A Family Tradition

Monday, May 4 2015

Carrying on a Family Tradition and Making History

Holt Tripp of Shelbyville, Ky., comes from a long line of Oklahoma State University (OSU) alumni and yet, at the same time, he is making history. While Holt’s father Phil Tripp, Uncle Mike Tripp, Aunt Eva and Uncle Pat Edmonds all earned their DVM degrees from OSU, on May 8, 2015, Holt will be the first dual degree graduate in the college’s history to earn both his DVM and MBA degrees on the same day.

“Oklahoma State has a special place in my heart and in my family’s heart,” explains Holt. “I chose to come here in part because it is a family school. My grandparents graduated from OSU the last year it was Oklahoma A&M.  My dad, aunts and uncles and cousins have all been here so there was a lot of appeal from that standpoint, and I wanted to get away from home for a bit, too.

“I made the decision to pursue the MBA after several long conversations with my parents. My dad owns and operates Kentucky Equine Medical Associates and my mom helped run the practice when it was first started. They know how important business training is and felt it was somewhere that my dad had fallen short in his training. They had the wisdom and the foresight to recommend that I not make the same mistake. They supported me in pursuing it and while it took some time for me to come around, I decided the dual degree program was a good fit.”

The Journey

“I think I was in middle school when I decided to be a veterinarian for good,” recalls Holt. “Before that I would want to be an astronaut and then I would want to be a veterinarian. Then I would want to be a fighter pilot or whatever but I kept coming back to veterinary medicine.”

“My practice is a race track practice,” says Phil. “We spend 8 months at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and 4 months at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Ark. As a little guy, Holt liked to tag along to the track when he could. He enjoyed being around the animals and the people. Holt has always done well in school and was able to get some scholarships. We knew he would do something in agriculture. OSU has one of the best animal science departments in the country. I told him ‘it is your education and you are only going to do it once so you might as well go to the best place.’ Of course, once he came to Stillwater and campus, he fell in love with the people and the university.  He was accepted at both Auburn University’s and OSU’s veterinary colleges but decided to stay at OSU for his veterinary degree.”

“I don’t know if there is any one part of vet school that I can pinpoint as my favorite,” says Holt. “The late nights in the anatomy lab studying with friends; the early mornings cramming for exams together—it’s the friendships and the relationships that you develop that really make vet school special and bearable because it certainly is a challenge. Those nights and mornings and the time I spent on the Bovine Palpation Team were a lot of fun. We (the team) spent a lot of time traveling and practicing together and I have some fond memories of that as well.”

For those interested in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine, Holt has this advice.

“It is a diverse profession with a lot of opportunities,” he says. “I would discourage you from being pigeon holed into any one portion of the field because there is plenty of room for individual interests and pursuits. Don’t feel restricted in the form of practice that you pursue.”

Holt took advantage of many of those opportunities available to OSU’s veterinary students. During his second year of veterinary college, Holt teamed up with Dr. D. L. Step, professor and food animal extension specialist.

“Holt is an excellent communicator. He keeps his word and keeps you informed,” says Step. “We did a review of vaccines in receiving cattle and published the results.* Holt is always thirsty for knowledge and to learn something new. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work with him.”

Holt’s father will hood him on commencement day.

“Having dad hood me is going to be really cool,” Holt says with a smile. “He and my mom have encouraged me from the very get go and never pushed me towards veterinary medicine or made me feel like I was obligated to pursue it as a career. My dad has always been someone I could turn to for honest advice and encouragement when things were not going well because he knew what I was going through. So to have him there that day at the end of this journey is going to be pretty special.”

His father echoes that sentiment.

“It’s just special; an intense sense of pride,” says Phil. “Because of the nature of my practice, we moved back and forth and Holt had to change schools some. He learned at a young age how to make friends. I am grateful to the college for allowing him to have the opportunity to pursue his MBA. That is a weakness of a lot of veterinarians. Whoever came up with that—it’s a brilliant idea. I think that will be a game changer in his life. We are fixing to turn a young man loose who can really make a difference.”

Following graduation Holt will marry in June and then the young couple will move to Canada.

“I have accepted a position with G. K. Jim Farms in Alberta, Canada,” says Holt. “I will be working as a professional services veterinarian and director of cattle operations for a large privately held cattle feeding company. I’m excited. It’s a family tradition (veterinary medicine) and I am looking forward to writing my part of it.”

*Tripp, HM, Step DL, Krehbiel CR, Moberly HK, Malayer JR. Evaluation of outcomes in beef cattle comparing preventive health protocols utilizing viral respiratory vaccines. Bovine Practitioner 47(1)54-64, 2013.