Discovering A Passion For Equine Medicine

Story by Rachel Knight, VMBS Communications

Alex Pastis with a brown horse
Alex Pastis
Photo by Jason Nitsch ’14, Texas A&M University Division of Marketing and Communications

Alex Pastis, a fourth-year Texas A&M Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) student and future equine veterinarian, proves that passion is a strong, almost unstoppable force. While, unlike many of his peers, Pastis didn’t consider becoming a veterinarian until his freshman year in college, once he’d gained an affinity for the field, his pursuit of a DVM degree became a force to be reckoned with. 

Pastis discovered his attraction to veterinary medicine unexpectedly when he began an undergraduate degree in wildlife and fisheries at Clemson University. 

“I had a lot of classes with the animal and veterinary sciences students and was really intrigued by what they shared from those classes,” Pastis said. “It really piqued my interest, so I shadowed our local vet back home over my first Christmas break in college. I fell in love with the veterinary profession and rerouted my life to follow a new calling and passion. I changed my major the following semester to animal and veterinary sciences, which provided the prerequisites for vet school, and really loved learning about veterinary medicine and animals.”

Pastis’ career took another turn the following year when he shadowed at an equine referral hospital in upstate South Carolina. 

“That was a big game-changer for me,” he said. “I didn’t grow up with horses. They weren’t really around in the suburban area I grew up in, but once I began working with them, I really fell in love. Dr. Alexandra Tracy was my mentor and a board-certified surgeon at the equine hospital. Working with her, I decided that if I was fortunate enough to get into vet school, I wanted to focus on equine medicine, specifically equine surgery.”

The Journey To Texas A&M

Pastis had never been to Texas when it came time to apply for veterinary school.

“I liked the area and the program when I visited during my interview,” he recalled. “Seeing the School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (VMBS) for the first time felt like walking into a castle. When I toured, everyone I met was super inviting and kind, and you could tell they were very proud of the program and really wanted to offer it to as many people as possible.”

When Pastis learned he’d been accepted to become one of the almost 9,000 Aggie veterinarians who have graduated from Texas A&M since 1920, he knew immediately that he was packing his bags for Texas. 

“I was not actually expecting to make it that far, but I was really thrilled,” he said. “After the initial moment of disbelief, I was super excited and really happy that I was fortunate enough to get in on my first try. At that point, I knew I wanted to do large animal and equine, and I knew Texas A&M was an exceptional school with a great equine and large animal caseload.”

Finding A Place To Belong

Alex Pastis with a brown horse
Alex Pastis
Photo by Jason Nitsch ’14, Texas A&M University Division of Marketing and Communications

Pastis said his time at the VMBS has been everything he’d hoped it would be and more. 

“Our professors have been extremely supportive and really take it upon themselves to see that the next generation of veterinarians are prepared and supported along the way,” he said. “Our fundamental classes, like our first anatomy class, felt like a rite of passage because they really laid the foundation for a solid veterinary education and career.

“Now that I’m in my fourth-year rotations, I’m able to look back and appreciate all that we’ve learned over the last three years,” he said. “The clinicians have really done a great job of getting us to think outside the box and think practically through our cases as we apply what we’ve learned to our clinical work.”

As Pastis continues to soak in every learning opportunity, he’s also planning for his future. 

“I will be doing an equine internship upon graduation at the Equine Medical Center of Ocala down in Ocala, Florida,” he said. “After that, I plan on applying for equine surgical residency at a university. My goal is still to become a surgeon, and, someday, I’d like to have part ownership at a veterinary hospital.”

In addition to following his passion for equine surgery, Pastis plans to give back to the generations of veterinarians who come after him, just as his mentors, teachers, and professors have given to him. 

“One of the parts of the job that’s important to me long-term is helping to teach and give back to the veterinary community by supporting vet students through their learning and early career,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to work with exceptional people during my externships who have really tried to help me, teach me, and create support systems that continue my education outside of vet school. It is very synergistic working on externships and going back to school, and I want to make sure future veterinary students have that learning opportunity as well.”

As graduation nears, Pastis said he is thankful for his time at Texas A&M and hopes to return either to continue learning or simply to reminisce about his time at the VMBS.

“I imagine that walking the stage at graduation will feel really exciting,” Pastis said. “I cannot imagine how rewarding that is going to feel, but I think it will also feel a little somber in a sense that you’re glad to have finished but sad that this chapter in life is over.

“You make a lot of friends during vet school and you pour so much time and energy into these four years, so this place becomes incredibly special and important to your past, present and future,” he said. “I’m thankful for the time I’ve had here and already look forward to returning someday.”


For more information about the Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, please visit our website at or join us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Contact Information: Jennifer Gauntt, Director of VMBS Communications, Texas A&M School of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences,, 979-862-4216

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