Faculty Research Profile
Ms. Sherri Reichardt
M.S. in Agriculture - Animal Science
Assistant Professor of Animal & Veterinary Sciences
at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Professor Sherri Reichardt started her undergraduate career at Riverside Community College then transferred to Cal Poly Pomona as a first-generation college student. Ms. Reichardt was pursuing an Animal Health Science degree while also working three jobs by the time she reached her senior year - one as a student assistant and two technician jobs at different clinics. When she started out at Cal Poly Pomona, the animal health science option “was new to the campus.” Since the major was just starting out, she had “two major instructors that taught all of” her classes. For this reason, “I really got to know them and they both have been a really huge influence on my career.” Upon the completion of her undergraduate degree, Ms. Reichardt had her first child and “started to think about the example I wanted to set for my son. I knew that if I really wanted to be able to be independent, I had to be able to support a good lifestyle. I would have to continue on with my degree and also I was going to stress that to my son - that he would have to go and get higher degrees, and so I thought I should set the example.”
Applying for her Master’s degree didn’t come without a struggle, unfortunately. Ms. Reichardt found herself facing divorce with a young son while starting off in her degree program once again at Cal Poly Pomona. With the support of her parents, Ms. Reichardt was able to pursue her Masters in Agriculture with the option in animal science. Both of Ms. Reichardt’s parents graduated from high school, and her mother even had a few college courses under her belt but never completed a degree. Ms. Reichardt’s parents knew that higher ed was her goal and was always supportive of her continuing her education post-baccalaureate. “They would help out as much as they could,” Ms. Reichardt stated, “with child care and things like that. They were just always supportive and just so proud.” Both Ms. Reichardt, as a mother and an aunt, and her parents also knew that her time in college wasn’t just benefitting her but also her son and her nieces and nephews because if she could do it first, they could do the same later.
Ms. Reichardt pursued her degree part-time as she was also working in a staff position at Cal Poly Pomona while working as a technician in a hospital to support herself and her son. “I knew from the beginning it was going to be a part-time venture,” she recalled. During her time in her master’s program, she realized that, on top of all the personal challenges, she had academic challenges as well. “Because I didn’t do any research as an undergrad,” she said, “it was all brand new. I was trying to find my way as a non-thesis student, I was still taking other graduate courses where I was hearing about other student’s research in lab and equipment so there was a bit of catching up.” Her undergraduate mentors were still part of her department and Ms. Reichardt found that “they were always there as my support system” and her chair was even her graduate advisor.
With both the support of her parents and the support of her department, Ms. Reichardt graduated with her Master’s in Agriculture with the option in animal science and soon became faculty within the department. In the classroom, Ms. Reichardt loves “that ah-ha moment with the students. That is my payday. It may not be immediate, it may take several years from when I meet them that things finally start to come together, but just seeing them apply what I’ve taught to them, what others have taught to them, what they’ve learned in the program, to really see them as colleagues...that’s what really motivates me.”
In her new role as faculty, Ms. Reichardt is not only ready to mentor both graduate and undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing research in animal science but also has a few words of advice: “pick up a minor” because it can help both in the business world and in the academic world. “You never know what your life is going to be after you graduate, even a few years down the line” she elaborated. “If you can do that work now, it can at least get you up to those doors when you are ready to walk through them as you’ve already done the legwork.” She realizes that students “don’t realize how short their time is in an undergraduate and how quickly it goes. The decisions that are made here are for the rest of their lives - getting their degree, getting their license, or getting their Master’s degree can set them up to have so many opportunities down the line that they aren’t even aware of.”