In Good Company

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From a young age, a career in optometry was the obvious choice for me. My father was a well-respected optometrist in town, and I spent my early years helping out in his practice—cleaning up the storage room while in middle school and advancing to more technical jobs during high school and college. I loved being around the patients and getting to see them year after year, but I didn’t want to go into optometry just because that’s what my dad did. Instead, I decided I would do something completely different and become an engineer.

That career path lasted about a semester, at which point I decided to switch to biology so I could become an emergency room doctor. I got a scribe job at the hospital my senior year and spent a few happy years working in the ER after graduation—in fact, it’s where I met my wife! But the more I worked in an emergency setting, the more I realized it wasn’t the type of face-to-face quality patient interaction I was longing for. In an ER, you see a patient once and most likely never again. I missed seeing patients year after year and getting to know them and their families; I wanted to help people with something salient to them, like their vision, that can directly impact their livelihood every day.

So, my career journey took another turn—or you might say, came full circle—and I enrolled in optometry school in my hometown. I embraced this new chapter, serving as president of the school’s American Optometric Student Association and working as a teacher’s assistant for a number of classes. My senior year, I was lucky enough to receive the Frank Fontana Memorial scholarship from The Heart of America Eye Care Congress, in collaboration with VSP Vision. Just to be associated with Dr. Fontana’s name is such an honor—as one of the most influential optometrists in the history of our profession, his legacy is such an inspiration to me, and I’m so grateful to his family and VSP for making the award possible. VSP was very involved throughout my optometric journey, and scholarships like this are just one way they have supported me, other students, and the profession in general.

It was a winding road to get here, but the reward of walking across the stage at graduation and seeing Doctor next to my name was almost indescribable. One month later, as I reflect on all the people who helped me become the person I am today, I am grateful to again be working alongside my dad, who has always been a role model as a father and someone truly passionate about what he does. Hearing patients talk about the impact he and the practice have had on their lives is inspiring and I’m excited to join him, my fellow graduates and colleagues, and leaders like Dr. Frank Fontana in a profession that improves people’s lives in such a profound way. “As Eye See It,” I’m in good company indeed.

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