Dr. Stephen Reichley ’13 is currently pursuing his PhD and is a Clinical Instructor at Mississippi State University. His interesting career path in aquaculture often gets many questions, but more importantly, inspires students to follow their own dreams in veterinary medicine. He is one of many alumni who give back to students by sharing their time, expertise, advice, and serving as a mentor for so many students.
Dr. Reichley always knew he wanted to be a veterinarian, but he did not imagine himself becoming a leader in the field of aquaculture. “In class during my first year at Ohio State, the word ‘aquaculture’ came up. I didn’t know what the word meant and was intrigued as it was explained. I asked the state veterinarian (Dr. Tony Forshey) if there were any fish vets in Ohio that I could ride along with and see what they did. Turned out there weren’t any, but that turned into a job offer as an intern at the Ohio Department of Agriculture working with their aquaculture unit,” he said.
From there, he continued to grow his experience and connections in aquaculture by working on fish farms and working with the State Aquaculture Coordinator. He also spent a summer in Mississippi and with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. During his time in veterinary school, he also had mentors who shared their time and advice with him, and though there are not very many other veterinarians in the field of aquaculture, Dr. Reichley believes you can learn something new from anyone you meet. “I think sometimes students focus on trying to find mentors who are in the career the student aspires to. While it is important to find such mentors, I benefitted greatly from mentors in other career paths; they helped give me a broad perspective and understanding,” he said.
Though Dr. Reichley currently resides in Mississippi, he often makes his way to Ohio to share his important and invaluable advice with students. “It is great when you finish a club meeting or during a networking luncheon when a student comes up completely blown away by the concept of aquaculture. It’s such a neat experience because I remember being in the same position years ago. The student has never heard of veterinarians who take care of fish and aquatic animals, it is a novel concept which leads to so many questions. The curiosity and interest of the students definitely energizes and motivates me.”
Dr. Reichley also gave the keynote at the 2016 Midwest Veterinary Conference Connection Corner Luncheon. He has continuously provided guidance and advice to students with interest in all fields of veterinary medicine. Serving as a mentor is an important way alumni give back every day, and Dr. Reichley is just one example of the many alumni who assist current veterinary students in growing their skills and confidence as future professionals. As Dr. Reichley says, “Networking and mentoring (both as a mentee and mentor) have paid tremendous dividends for me. The return on investment has been unbelievable – leading to rewarding personal and professional relationships. These are two of the most important and fun aspects of my career.”