Student Life

SCCO Optometry Students in MBKU News

I love to read these MBKU News articles featuring students. The articles discuss the various aspects of not only student life, but student leadership, dreams, and aspirations.  Also featured are recent grads and what they have been able to achieve in a short time.

If you’re looking for inspiration to achieve your goal to become an optometrist, vicariously enjoy these featured stories with beautiful photos. All are links to MBKU’s website.

This is just a sampling of the many feature articles in MBKU News.

“Growing up I wore glasses,” says Saba. “I remember going to the eye doctor and being excited. I was curious about what was going on.”

Later, in high school, he asked his optometrist how he liked his job and the doctor’s enthusiasm for the profession left a lasting mark on Saba.

“He said he created relationships with his patients and enjoyed helping people,” says Saba.

As an undergraduate at the University of California at Los Angeles Saba attended a career center event and was impressed by SCCO Assistant Dean of Admissions Dr. Jane Ann Munroe’s enthusiasm for the profession. He later shadowed some optometrists and was hooked on the career.

“As an optometrist you need to be good at managing a business, managing other people and you need to have good communications skills,” he says. “Being an optometrist would force me to foster these skills in my life so I would be a well-rounded person.” Read More

Samuelson is in her fourth year of studies at SCCO and hopes to one day go into private practice. She is considering completing a residency after graduation.

Raised in a Basketball Family

Raised in Huntington Beach, Samuelson is the eldest of three sisters, all of whom were raised to excel at basketball by their basketball-playing parents. Both parents played ball professionally, but it was Bonnie’s father who regularly took his daughters to the basketball court to teach them to shoot, dribble and shoot again.

“My dad would take us every day to shoot,” says Samuelson. “He said if you want to get good at basketball, you have to practice.”

His tutelage paid off. Bonnie would go on to play basketball all four years at Stanford University as an undergraduate, where she specialized in three-pointers. Her middle sister plays professional basketball in Belgium and her younger sister plays at the University of Connecticut. Read More

“My parents told me to stop complaining,” jokes Alkawally. “It was literally a 100 degree difference in temperature.”

Alkawally is a fourth year student at the Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University. She loves SCCO, her professors, and the rigors of the coursework, but freely admits that the warm weather was one of the big draws of the school.

“I knew I needed to be somewhere warm for the four years of study,” she says.

From Saudi Arabia to So Cal

Alkawally’s parents are Egyptian. She lived in Saudi Arabia as a child and moved to Canada with her parents and younger brother when she was 15. She says she didn’t speak English at the time, but learned quickly. She went on to graduate from the University of Calgary in 2010 where she studied Cell, Molecular and Microbial Biology.

After graduation she worked for several years in the research and regulatory industry at a natural health product company seeking product approval from the Canadian government. She says her passion was health care, however, so she shadowed health professionals in search of a fit.

“When I shadowed an optometrist I said, ‘This is it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” she says.”

“Everyone is Approachable”

Mariam toured several optometry schools, but when she stepped onto the grounds of SCCO, she knew she found her fit.

“Everyone is approachable,” she says. “You feel as though you are part of a family. The professors are willing to work with you. You don’t see that at a big university.”

Alkawally especially loves working with patients because “every patient is different, based on their personality, their needs,” she says.

“I like the variety of things you are doing and being on your toes all of the time,” she says.

Alkawally hopes to one day go into private practice, likely in Canada, but isn’t sure in what type of care. She also wants to devote time to research. She is seeking a doctorate in optometry as well as a master’s in vision science. Read More

Annabelle Storch, SCCO, Class of ’19:

Storch served as national president of the American Optometric Student Association after serving as SCCO’s trustee and trustee-elect for the AOSA. She also completed MBKU’s Leadership Certificate Program.

Leadership roles, she says, provide immense opportunity for growth.

“They are all lessons,” she says of taking on and completing leadership assignments. “Hopefully, with everything you do, you learn something.”

Former High School Science Teacher Turned Medical Professional

Storch earned her undergraduate degree at Stanford University in human biology, then studied for a fifth year to earn her MA in education. She taught high school science for three years in Southern California and loved the creativity of the job and working with young people, but says the profession “wasn’t a perfect fit for her.”

“Teaching was missing that medical aspect,” she says.

The oldest of five children, Storch grew up in Newport Beach. Her father is an internist and her mother a dental hygienist. She was drawn to the medical profession, but says she “steered away from medical school” because she saw how long her father’s work days were as an internist. Storch’s optometrist suggested she look into the profession.

“That’s how I learned how medically based optometry is,” she says.

She says she has loved her studies at SCCO, especially “being in clinic and seeing patients.” Read More

Danica Quicho, SCCO, Class of ’20:

Quicho grew up in Las Vegas and studied at the University of Hawaii for two years before transferring to the University of Washington where she initially studied pre-medicine. She wasn’t sure what kind of medicine she wanted to practice. After taking a job as an optician she became enamored with watching the optometrist work with patients.

“I could see in the way she talked about it and the way she interacted with her patients that she was so happy with her job,” says Quicho.

The impression stuck with Quicho and helped to persuade her to pursue studies in optometry.

Move to California

Quicho moved to California after graduating from the University of Washington in microbiology. She took a job as a front desk receptionist at the East West Eye Institute, where both optometrists and ophthalmologists worked. Later, she would be promoted to project manager. In the evenings she took extension classes at the University of California at Los Angeles to help her study for her optometry admissions test.

She visited SCCO during a spring admissions open house and “fell in love” with the school. Read More

Marisol Lauri, SCCO, Class of ’21

Over the past summer break, optometry student Marisol Lauri was relaxing at her parents’ home in Fresno, CA, taking a much-needed break from her rigorous course of study at MBKU. Her father was at the front of the house, doing yardwork, when he was suddenly approached by the neighbor from across the street. She was frantic, scared – and carrying her unconscious two-year old son. The boy was not breathing, the result of a split-second mishap in the pool, and now it was a race against time to save him.

A Close Call

Marisol sprinted from the house to help while her father immediately called 911. After quickly assessing the situation, Marisol began performing CPR on the boy, giving him chest compressions while instructing his mother to administer breaths. The CPR was effective, and shortly thereafter, he was breathing again. The ambulance arrived and took the boy to the hospital, and the next day the boy was back in the neighborhood, riding his tricycle, watched over by his thankful mother.

Helpful Training

While Marisol had been certified for CPR earlier in her life, it happens that just prior to this event she had been re-certified through MBKU’s CPR training course, mandatory for all students before the year they start on their rotations. The class is administered by the Campus Safety & Security Department, and one of the myriad ways by which MBKU prepares its students as health care providers. “We have a number of classes that have surprised me in terms of what we’ve learned,” says Marisol. “We’ve been taught how to take blood pressure, what to do if someone faints, things like that. I’m grateful because I think it’s so important as health care professionals to have these kinds of basic skills so you can help any situation in the best way you can.” Read More

“Our motto throughout school has been ‘keep going and never give up,’” says Kimberly, who adds that the couple made their ten-year life plan together at the start of undergraduate school at San Diego State University.

Hitting the Milestones on their Ten-Year Plan

Many of the couple’s ten-year plan milestones have hit fast and furious in the past few weeks. The couple married April 27 in front of 300 guests then launched into wrapping up their studies and rotations in order to graduate from SCCO this month. Later this summer, they will head to Las Vegas where Dennis will start a residency program with the Veterans Administration and Kimberly will work in private practice. Between graduation and the start of their new jobs they will honeymoon in Japan and Thailand.

If it sounds like a lot of change, it is, but the couple embraces the changes and says they are grateful for the help they have received along the way and the quality of education at SCCO. Both are the first in their families to graduate with a higher education degree.

“SCCO prepared me to be an excellent clinician,” says Dennis. “They teach us how to communicate respectfully and with compassion.” Read More

Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University student Diana Nguyen, ’19, boasts two professional loves – optometry and investigative reporting. After graduating this month, Nguyen will devote her time to both careers when she begins managing her brother’s optometry practices in the Bay Area and working part-time as an investigative news reporter at a Bay Area television station.

“Television was my first love. My childhood dream was to be a reporter,” explains Nguyen, adding that there is something “exciting and fun” about investigative reporting. She worked for three years as a television reporter at NBC affiliated stations across the United States after graduating from San Jose State University before attending SCCO.

But Nguyen has grown up working in her aunt’s optometry practice in Sacramento, and her father was an optician who practiced in Mountain View and Capitola, CA.

“A career in optometry helping people see is one of the most fulfilling jobs out there,” she explains, adding that she will not just manage her brother’s practice, but will occasionally fill in as an optometrist as well.  Read More

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