From the Midwest to the Mideast: Duty calls Dixon native to serve her country as a link in a safer food chain
DIXON – A veterinary pathologist will be trading in her lab coat for a uniform for the next several months while she’s deployed to the Middle East.
U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Stephanie French, a Dixon native and academic specialist of anatomic pathology at Michigan State University, recently came to town to visit family before her deployment, which will last 8 to 10 months.
French graduated from Faith Christian School, earned her associate of science degree at Sauk Valley Community College followed by bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2007, where she also earned her degree in veterinary medicine.
She then worked at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife in Sanibel Island, Florida, for 4 years.
“I’ve always loved animals and wildlife. I was limited to one cat growing up, but I would always try and bring more animals home to take care of,” she said.
French made the move from Florida to Michigan after finding out that a feather allergy and a workplace with hundreds of birds wasn’t a good mix, and completed a 3-year residency in veterinary anatomic pathology at Michigan State University.
The 39-year-old has since worked in the university’s veterinary diagnostic laboratory examining tissues and investigating animal deaths.
She has performed necropsies and animal autopsies on many animals domestic and foreign, including a hippopotamus, lion and hyena.
French said she likes being able to help farmers and others as well as identify issues before they spread.
“I like being able to give people closure, and I like solving a good mystery,” she said.
French joined the U.S. Army Reserve Veterinary Corps in January 2013, and veterinarians in the Army are usually tasked with treating military dogs, running vaccination clinics and making sure the food supply is safe.
French mostly will be doing the latter because of her pathology background. She’ll see that the food is stored properly and not tampered with as well as inspecting local food production facilities.
“It’s a chance for me to serve my country and go places I wouldn’t normally go,” she said.
Her grandfather, John Rich, said he couldn’t be more proud of her.
“I’m dumbfounded with everything she has accomplished,” he said. “She never gave up and was always determined to do what she wanted to do.”
She and her husband, James Ivey, have been married since 2014 and have six cats and three dogs. He’s a master sergeant in the Army National Guard.
French is the daughter of Leslie Suppan and Steven French, and the granddaughter of John and the late Connie Rich, and the late Harold and Geraldine French.