Becoming part of Berkeley Optometry’s environment as an undergrad

 

Group Photo from Fall conference 2019

As an incoming freshman, I knew that I was interested in the medical field, but I wasn’t quite sure that medical school was for me. Before going to Berkeley I didn’t know anything about Optometry. Little did I know that we have the top Optometry school in the nation as well as a thriving pre-optometry community. It sparked my interest and I was welcomed into the undergraduate student community as well as the graduate one.

Foresight Pre-Optometry Club was the first club I joined at Berkeley. One of my friends from home was also in it, which was nice. The club is an incredible way to get connected with the School of Optometry. For starters, all of our meetings were in the graduate school. Our meetings frequently had professors come in and speak for us as well as the occasional faculty dinner. I honestly feel like I know all the professors already! Foresight also hands me opportunities I feel  I wouldn’t get anywhere else like job openings at optometry offices, research opportunities, leadership and professional development, and volunteer opportunities. 

One of the amazing ways I get to know Berkeley Optometry is through a program called the mentorship program. This is where you are paired with a first year optometry student and you have the chance to shadow their clinic classes for an entire semester. In my two years in Foresight, I’ve had two mentors and they were amazing! My current one is named Sam and he’s from Seattle just like me! He’s been a great help for learning more about optometry as well as answering my questions and just overall being a friend. I’ve gotten to experience real classes and get to know Grad students as well as professors more intimately. When I walk around the optometry school, students and staff alike say hello to me and even know my name: a unique experience, in my opinion. 

In my second year, I became part of leadership. This has drawn me closer to the Optometry school than before. We host an event for over a hundred people every year called Fall Conference. This is hosted by Foresight as well as Berkeley Optometry. Students come from all over the country to get to know the school better as well as meet world renowned faculty. This is a really important opportunity for students to get a better understanding of what their future looks like as well as bettering their chance of getting into Berkeley. Being part of leadership allows me to be part of this planning and work with the admissions office and doctors within different disciplines.

UC Berkeley and Berkeley School of Optometry are the only reason I’ve had these experiences. This is just one of the nine graduate schools where students get to interact with faculty and students just as much as I’ve had the chance. I think all students should be able to develop relationships like these and I’m so glad I’ve gotten this chance so early on in my college journey.

 

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Author: Sasha Nikitinska

Hello! I am a second year from Seattle, Washington studying Applied Math and Molecular Cell Biology Double Major, as well as a Calteach Education Minor. In addition to being a campus ambassador, I've also published a few research articles in various medical journals on campus and participate heavily in Berkeley Optometry.