Richard Paz

Tell us about your background.

My journey in the swine industry started back in Peru, the country where I was born and raised. After I earned my Veterinary Medicine and Zootechnics degree from Cayetano Heredia University in 2011, I crossed various roles in the swine related-industry, including a manager for a local farm, a private consultant for pork producers, and a swine technical consultant in a commercial laboratory company.

In 2016, I had the opportunity to work as a Regional Trainer for 3 years in one of the largest and most recognized pork companies in the Midwest, Pipestone Systems. The experience was incredible. I gained more experience and skills related to production, health, biosecurity, safety and animal welfare by working closely with great professionals, having Dr. Cara Haden as one of my guides on this path.

I also worked as a Breeding Lead in a 5,600 sow farm unit for Country View Family Farms in Pennsylvania. It was a great learning experience in production and personnel management as well.

Currently, I am employed by CBSET, Inc. working as a Herd Manager in Massachusetts and overseeing the health and production of this system.

How did you become interested in the Master of Veterinary Science degree program?

Shortly after I started working in the states, I considered furthering my education. I was looking for a master’s degree related to my career, so I started looking into some graduate programs and MBAs. That is how I found out that UIUC was launching the MVS program with a major in Livestock Health Systems; I knew that I had to enroll in this program. One of the advantages of this program is that it is an online format which is ideal for those who are working and want to continue educating themselves. Another thing that caught my attention was the faculty and the background and experience of the instructors in the program.

Tell us about your favorite course in the program?

It is between VCM 569 (A Systems-Based Approach to the Operation of Livestock-Based Food Production Systems II) and VCM562 (Understanding the Host Response to Infection). The first because it made us think outside the box to identify different constrains and what techniques apply to the management of the supply chain for livestock based food systems. And, VCM 562 because it is designed for small group work/discussion, including new cases every week that allowed us to apply rational, systematic data for investigating health challenges at both individual and population level. It also challenged us to develop a health protocol for any specific livestock system.

The content of these courses will help me a lot in my career, since as a veterinarian the use of new techniques on the farm to counteract infections and prevent health challenges is very important and will also help me from the productive side, analyzing and improving the supply chain of the entire systems.

Now that you are finishing the degree program, what will you do next?

After finishing this program, I would like to continue studying and updating myself in the swine industry. I believe that you never stop learning new things, and this program has helped me a lot in my personal and professional development, meeting colleagues and people who love what they do, and sharing with them knowledge in this industry that fills me with optimism and joy. The knowledge I have gained from this program has given me a solid foundation of skills to be able to function in my current job as Herd Manager.

What is one thing about the program you would say to someone considering this degree?

It does not matter if you have a couple of years or more than 20 years working in ranching, corporate production, research and development, education, veterinary medicine, government, quality control, or other industries, the master of veterinary science (MVS) degree is designed to increase your skills and capabilities to identify the best solutions and techniques to solve problems in a food based system. This program will provide you with different ideas, perspectives from professionals in your field and, the best of all, you can do it online without interfering your responsibilities.