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Student Life Blogs

Moving Across the Country to Start Optometry School

Hello everyone! My name is Kammy Lin, and I am from Diamond Bar, California. I graduated this summer from the University of California, Riverside with a B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Psychology. I don’t know how the time flew by so quickly these last four years, though now that I’ve commemorated my undergraduate experience, it’s time to look forward to what’s next in store for me - optometry school! The move to Memphis is particularly exciting for me because it’s the first time in my life I’ll be living somewhere new. College was so close to home that I could drive back every weekend if I wanted to. But now, leaving this close proximity will give me the chance to adventure out into the world and discover what it has to offer beyond what I’ve been used to seeing thus far. So, here’s to embracing change and beginning a new chapter! 

Since I grew up with family members in the healthcare field, following that same path was a possibility I had in the back of my mind. (Shocker!) However, it did take me a while to ponder on it since I had other interests, as many would, as a child. Then I had my very first optometry visit during middle school. I found myself in a pleasant environment with a doctor who didn’t inject me with needles or subject me to any pain or bleeding. The optometrist got bonus points for being super nice to me, but more importantly, he looked happy doing his job. When I left the exam room, that was the first time I thought, “maybe I could be an optometrist.” 

Fast forward to my first year at UCR. One of the very first organizations I joined at school was the pre-optometry club. I will say that it was one of the best decisions I made during my undergrad career. Through the pre-optometry club, I learned the importance of networking, and from there, landed my first internship at a private practice. One internship slowly turned into two, along with other shadowing opportunities. The more I learned about optometry, the more absorbed I became. There’s a great balance between work and personal life, freedom to choose where and how you want to practice, different specialties you can focus on, and the list goes on. To me, the most beautiful aspect about this profession is the ability to protect the most important sense a person can have: their vision. Optometrists foster the gift of eyesight to others, thereby making a positive change and improvement in people’s everyday lives/routines. I especially took notice of this as a volunteer at free eye clinics, where there were many underprivileged individuals who had gone a long time without access to an eyecare professional. Imagine one of them came up to you and you played a part in restoring their vision. What could be more rewarding than that? Seeing the gratitude they had after finally receiving the proper eye care attention they needed was incredibly fulfilling. I knew this was the career I wanted upon learning how meaningful and impactful the world of optometry can be.

Why SCO? 

For those who don’t know, there are 23 optometry schools in the U.S., 3 of which are in California. You might be wondering why I did not pick one of the schools in California. To be honest, I too thought I would be attending an optometry school in my home state, especially since two of them are less than a 20 minute drive away from where I lived. I hadn’t really gauged any other schools at the time. One day, I was talking to the graduating seniors in the pre-optometry club as they were discussing the optometry schools they applied to. SCO was one of the schools they mentioned. They spoke of SCO so highly that it started to pique my interest towards the program. I realized then that there were other great schools that I hadn’t considered because I limited my choices to only what was close by. Thus, I removed those limitations. After all, this is my professional career we’re talking about. I had to look at every option in order to select the school that was the best fit for me. 

When it was time to apply, I emailed the SCO Admissions Office a couple questions on some things I was uncertain about. It was just a few questions, but the response I received was so informative and detailed that I could tell they were really trying to help me with the situation I was in. It even felt like they were rooting for me as an applicant. The encouragement and support were recurring themes with each successive SCO interaction I had - during my interviews, speaking with current students, contacting the staff with more questions, and meeting my classmates online virtually. These people truly care and want me to succeed. I knew this was a community I wanted to surround myself in. Furthermore, a separate factor that mattered to me was the educational experience found at SCO. I was astonished by the strong clinical program, advanced technology, and state-of-the-art facilities, not to mention the sky-high board passage rates. SCO additionally offers an abundance of resources, including the Hayes Center for Practice Excellence, which provides guidance on career planning/practice management not just for current students but for alumni as well. This goes to show the support that SCO dedicates to their students during enrollment and even beyond graduation. Given all the amazing opportunities and people here, it was an easy decision to select SCO as my choice of school. I can truly see myself obtaining the best optometric education here while growing to be a well-rounded clinician. 

In about a week, I will be starting my very first classes as an optometry student. It feels like I’ve waited forever for this day to come and it’s finally arriving. Now let the journey begin!


Posted by Erin Jaffe at 14:34