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Got Questions? Ask SCCO Student Ambassadors

Here is your chance to get your questions answered by SCCO students.  Introducing  SCCO’s Student Ambassadors!  First year students who have a heart for service have volunteered to help prospective students follow in their footsteps to become an optometry student. 

Check out their bios and feel free to reach out to as many as you like.  They look forward to hearing from you! 

2025 Student Ambassadors

Ahmed, Tameen_funTameen Ahmed

Why did you choose SCCO?

Being someone who values collaboration and has worked with various healthcare providers, I believed that SCCO’s interprofessional education would prepare me to provide my patients with the most efficient care. In addition to this, I was drawn to the fact that SCCO’s early clinical exposure would allow me to expand my knowledge about eye-care from the classroom to the clinic at an early stage of my optometric education.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

When I’m not studying, I enjoy hiking and discovering new coffee shops. I also like stepping out of my comfort zone every one in a while by picking up new hobbies. I also really enjoy giving back to my community by volunteering at health fairs through a local nonprofit organization.

Any advice for Prospective Students?

I would advise prospective students to work on developing qualities that would make them a good doctor. Some of these qualities include accountability, cooperation, and communication skills. Getting involved with extracurricular activities can be a great way to develop these qualities.

How can you help prospective students?

I can help first-generation college/grad school students navigate through the optometry school admissions process as I recently experienced it myself.

Baby, Brynn_funBrynn Babey

Why did you choose SCCO?

I chose SCCO because of the supportive, family-like atmosphere that was so evident when researching every aspect of the school. While SCCO  has top-notch technology, clinical opportunities, residency programs, and a beautiful location, it was the warmth and support from faculty that made my decision easy. The open-door, here-to-help policy that each faculty member portrayed throughout the application process truly stood out. It is amazing how the faculty at SCCO encourages students to combine their individual strengths and help each other succeed without the pressure of curve grading. I am so excited to be a part of the encouraging atmosphere that familiarizes students with the type of peer collaboration that we will carry forward into our careers as optometrists!

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

I love to be outdoors, cook, work out, and have movie nights with friends.

Any advice for Prospective Students?

The main piece of advice I would tell prospective students is to be completely and proudly themselves in every aspect of their application. They have already put in countless hours volunteering, shadowing, and studying for the OAT and prerequisite courses. Their application is the time to highlight all of their hard work and focus on their true strengths. If they are honest and recognize their deservingness, their genuine passion will be evident to admissions and they will feel much more calm throughout the application process.

How can you help prospective students?

I can particularly help out of staters and international students with everything leading up to and after making the decision to attend SCCO.

Chapman, Christina_funChristina Chapman

Why did you choose SCCO?

I always find this question challenging, because there is not just one simple reason that I chose SCCO. Ketchum really combines a lot of important factors I was looking for in a school. SCCO has incredible world-class faculty members.As optometry school is a big financial investment, I also like seeing my future tuition money actively working for the students at SCCO. One big teller of tuition money at work is the ample equipment to practice on as well as new technology like the Anatomage table and VR Magic ophthalmoscope.  SCCO teaches students didactically quite well, but really excels at training great clinicians, and Ketchum Health provides an excellent setting for that training to begin. Lastly, when I was able to visit SCCO, I felt that there was a really strong sense of community and everyone genuinely cares for the success and happiness of students, which is perhaps the single most important thing to me when evaluating schools.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

I love doing anything in the outdoors – particularly hiking, rock climbing, and backpacking. I also like to read and play piano.

Any advice for Prospective Students?

Everyone always says to apply early, but it really gives you the best opportunity to get admitted off of the great merit that you already have. I applied later than I wanted to, all because I felt like my essays weren’t good enough and I was nervous about getting in. Admittedly, I didn’t even change my essays that much once they were done, and I could have saved myself a month of stress if I just hit “submit” on that application sooner.

How can you help prospective students?

I went to a small liberal arts school for undergrad, then took 3 years off before optometry school. If you didn’t have a pre-optometry club in college or took a few years off, reach out, I’m happy to help if I can!

Jaclyn CharbonneauCharbonneau, Jaclyn

Why did you choose SCCO?

I chose SCCO for the community. At the end of the day, finding a school where I felt a sense of belonging and community was more important to me than any statistic. From the very first experience I had with SCCO on a virtual orientation to the interview process and now admitted, I have always felt supported and can tell that SCCO is a family. The resources and support from day one through clinical education are inclusive and help to establish this sense of community and support for students.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

I enjoy spending time at the beach, working out, cooking, and traveling. I also love to find fun coffee shops and brunch places to study at/hang out at and enjoy spending time outdoors hiking, playing soccer, and walking my dogs!

Any advice for Prospective Students?

My best advice is to be yourself; even though this is cliche advice, it it easy as a pre-health student to get caught up in becoming the ideal candidate based on what you read on the internet or hear from other students. However, perusing activities that you enjoy and that you are passionate about is what makes you a unique applicant and shines through in your personal statement and interviews. It is important to find different ways to incorporate unique elements into your application and to understand how these unique leadership/service/etc. experiences better prepare you for a diverse career and gaining the skills needed to serve different populations and work with people from different backgrounds.

How can you help prospective students?

I can help out students who plan to go straight from undergrad to optometry school without taking time off. It’s a juggling act to balance applications, OAT prep and classes, but it’s very doable. I am also local to Orange County and happy to give recommendations and tips about the area!

Cheng, EileenEileen Cheng

Why did you choose SCCO?

I chose SCCO because of the strong sense of community and family. In the summer of 2019, my friend who is a current student invited me to tour SCCO. During my visit, I saw many students happily laughing and studying together, and I knew then that SCCO was where I wanted to be. That sense of community and family I picked up on during my short visit two summers ago has been reaffirmed and strengthened as I spend more time with faculty and current students.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

Archery, cross-stitching, embroidery, and sleeping

Any advice for Prospective Students?

I would advise prospective students to read through and study OptometryAdmissions.com if they want to be a competitive applicant. Dr. Munroe is very transparent and thorough about what SCCO looks for in a competitive applicant, and the website was a tremendous help to me during my journey.

How can you help prospective students?

I matriculated into SCCO directly following undergrad, so I’m happy to give advice on how to balance finishing school while applying and prepping for the OAT. I can also help with ideas for meal prepping to save time!

Emily CoanCoan, Emily

Why did you choose SCCO?

I chose SCCO for its excellent clinical education, well-distinguished program, friendly professors that see you as equals, innovative technology, digitally recorded lectures, great clubs and student life with a support system. There are many ways to get involved whether its Omega Delta Professional Fraternity, NOSA, Private Practice Club, or learning Spanish from the Spanish Optometric Society! Every time I’ve visited SCCO, I’ve felt warm and welcomed and it’s where I pictured myself being for the next 4 years. The admissions team is amazing, faculty cares about your learning, and all students want each other to succeed!

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

Dance, play piano, hang with friends, indoor rock climb, and listen to music

Any advice for Prospective Students?

Don’t stress! Everything happens for a reason and if it’s meant to be and you have good attributes that optometrists should have, admissions will see that.

How can you help prospective students?

I entered UCI as a Dance major and when I decided to pursue optometry I had to fight to be allowed to double major in Biology so I could take the prereqs I needed. Balancing arts and science wasn’t easy!

De Los Reyes, MichelleMichelle De Los Reyes

Why did you choose SCCO?

I chose SCCO because of the atmosphere on campus. I loved the close-knit community and the opportunities for leadership and extracurriculars. I wanted to be close with my peers and my professors, and no longer a number like in undergrad. I knew my heart was set during the initial welcome meeting held on zoom. I loved seeing current students and faculty show their support for the incoming class and want to know my name, not only my scores. There was a love for the school that resonated deeply. SCCO showed they cared about their students beyond academics and wanted to cultivate not only good optometrists, but doctors of good character.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

Video Games, Playing Music, Embroidery, Cooking, Exploring the Area!

Any advice for Prospective Students?

Study hard in your classes, focus on doing YOUR best on the OAT, and be honest in your application. Your application is much more beyond your numbers, it’s about you and how passionate you are about your field.

How can you help prospective students?

I took a gap year, did research in undergrad, and worked as an optician. If any of that matches with your background reach out!

Colette DsouzaDsouza, Collette

Why did you choose SCCO?

A major reason for picking SCCO was due to the huge sense of community I felt on interview day! I was interviewed over the phone in the middle of a pandemic and despite not having the usual interview day experience, I was immediately made to feel welcomed into SCCO!

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

Reading, watching TV, catching up with friends/family, yoga, boxing, cross stitching and listening to music

Any advice for Prospective Students?

Get involved with as many shadowing opportunities as you are able to. If possible, shadow different areas within an optometry clinic (e.g. the sales department, reception area etc.) to get a feel for what really goes into running a practice.

Take the time to build your resume, get involved in as many extracurriculars to strengthen your application.

Take as many OAT practice exams as you can, they’re time consuming, but they are also a great indicator of how prepared you are.

How can you help prospective students?

I’m an international student for the second time so moving to foreign countries is second nature to me! If you’re nervous about attending school far away from family, I’m happy to help support you through the journey!

Fayad, AhmedAhmed Fayad

Why did you choose SCCO?

I chose SCCO due to its excellent clinical programs and vision therapy program, which I know for a fact will prepare me even after I graduate.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

Wood working, leather working, gardening, and trying new skills

Any advice for Prospective Students?

Prepare a schedule to study for the OAT that is tailored to how you learn.

How can you help prospective students?

I’m an encourager! If you’re nervous about the admissions process let’s talk! You’ve got this!

Jillian HipsmanHipsman, Jillian

Why did you choose SCCO?

It was a preferred geographical location, but the admissions team really made me feel like the school was a good fit for me culturally.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

Reading and audiobooks, relaxing with my dog, crafts, talking with friends

Any advice for Prospective Students?

Try not to compare yourself too much to others on the internet. Study early and often for the OAT.

How can you help prospective students?

I am an out of state and a career changer. After having success in other careers, I knew something was missing. When I decided to pursue Optometry I had to go back to school to take the prereqs. It was a big commitment, but so worth it! If you’re considering making big moves geographically or vocationally I’m happy to help you navigate your next steps!

Jaime, GavinGavin Jaime

Why did you choose SCCO?

I chose SCCO for a few reasons. First was because of how close by it was as I already live in Orange County and I wanted to stay close by to family. Secondly, was the reputation and the history of the school. Many of the great optometrists I have worked with in the past all went to SCCO and I wanted to follow in their footsteps.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

I love being at the beach, hanging with friends, working out, and rock climbing.

Any advice for Prospective Students?

Be prepared to spend a lot of time studying for the OAT and don’t procrastinate on applications.

How can you help prospective students?

I took two gap years figuring out what I wanted to do, so if you’re still exploring optometry or trying to figure out your path I can share what helped me. Also I commute, so if you’re considering doing the same let’s talk!

Jasmine LovanLovan, Jasmine

Why did you choose SCCO?

I chose to attend SCCO for several reasons. First, I loved how friendly and welcoming the faculty was during interviews and how close-knit the university seemed. Coming from a large university, I knew that I wanted to attend a graduate school that was smaller in order to receive higher quality education and larger accessibility to professors if needed. Second, I value being able to receive diverse clinical experiences during my education. SCCO offers clinical experiences to students through a wide variety of rotation sites. It was important for me to choose an optometry school where I felt I would receive the best education and experience, while also being in a positive and uplifting environment that would allow me to reach my full potential, thus I chose to attend SCCO!

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

My hobbies include painting, fishing, baking, and taking my dog out to dog parks! I am an avid coffee and tea drinker, and I love discovering new cafés.

Any advice for Prospective Students?

Being confident in why you chose to pursue optometry and knowing your motivations to succeed is important and shines through during interviews.

How can you help prospective students?

Out-of-stater, took a gap year, first generation college/graduate student, decided to pursue optometry after graduating. If any of that hits home, let’s connect!

Moret, AdamAdam Moret

Why did you choose SCCO?

I chose SCCO for three reasons: campus-like atmosphere, strong sense of community, and heavy focus on interprofessional communication. I wanted a campus-like atmosphere because I believe it leads to building closer professional relationships between all of the students of different disciplines at MBKU, as well as the professors. I was very interested in a university with a strong sense of community and inclusivity because wherever I was going to school, I knew I wasn’t going to be going somewhere familiar. The amount of clubs, peer and faculty advisors, and ways to meet other incoming students alleviated a lot of anxiety I had about moving from Minnesota to Southern California. The last reason I wanted to attend SCCO was a strong focus on interprofessional communication. Through my job as an optician I got to witness how often optometrists are in contact with other medical professionals. It takes multiple medical professionals that are not only proficient in their disciplines, but also proficient in communicating with one another to effectively care for a patient.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

Go hiking, play video games, watch movies, play sports, and of course nap (the most important one of the list!)

Any advice for Prospective Students?

While a good GPA and OAT scores certainly help, passion for optometry and to help others is also weighed heavily during the interview process. Shadowing an optometrist for an extended period of time will show that an applicant is committed to a future in optometry.

How can you help prospective students?

Out-of-state (MN), took a gap year to work/finish up prerequisites for optometry school, never got to actually visit campus in person until equipment pick up so I can relate to prospective students who are unable to visit due to COVID/proximity issues.

Karen NguyenNguyen, Karen

Why did you choose SCCO?

As I was evaluating what programs would suit me best, I considered different criteria in my search. I wanted to attend a program that would not only fit my needs for a high quality education, but I also wanted to ensure that I would be in an encouraging culture to push me to explore my interests in optometry.

There are a multitude of reasons why I chose SCCO. The most important factor was community. SCCO constantly embodies community. The overwhelming support and positivity trickles down from all staff, faculty, and students. Everyone I have met thus far at SCCO has been nothing but friendly and encouraging.

I also chose SCCO for the innovative technology around campus and the state of the art clinical facility. What stood out to me was the VR Magic (no need to dilate peers to practice), the anatomage tables, and most importantly lecture capture (makes note-taking and review much easier). Ketchum Health is also exceptionally beautiful. It truly showcases optometry’s diversity with sections for primary care, vision therapy, low vision, etc. SCCO was ultimately the program that had goals that aligned with mine.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

I like to weightlift and drink boba!

Any advice for Prospective Students?

Applying to optometry school is undeniably intimidating, yet simultaneously exciting. The biggest advice I can give to prospective students is to be yourself and to express yourself creatively and professionally. Really try to stand out by shining the light on your achievements that have led you to the profession. Everyone’s story and journey to optometry is unique.

How can you help prospective students?

First generation, gap year, commuter/living at home.

Nuha, NicoleNicole Nuha

Why did you choose SCCO?

I chose to attend SCCO because of the family feel between faculty and students. Though SCCO offers a great curriculum and has an exceptional reputation, what stood out to me was how SCCO treated their students like family and tailored their programs to their students’ needs. The faculty and staff at SCCO genuinely care about their students and go above and beyond to create an environment meant to aid in their students’ success. At SCCO, every student matters, and I am honored to be apart of the family.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

When I have free time, I enjoy trying out new recipes, hosting game nights, going out to eat with friends, or unwinding with my favorite Netflix shows.

Any advice for Prospective Students?

I would advise students to take a step back and look at their application as a whole. Instead of only focusing on the numbers, such as raising their GPA or getting a high OAT score, they should also consider their experiences.  Participating in activities unique to them can set them apart as an applicant and allow them to take advantage of every opportunity in their undergraduate career.

How can you help prospective students?

I am an out-of-state student from Las Vegas, Nevada and would be happy to answer any questions in regards to what it’s like being an out-of-stater!

Gaby OrozcoOrozco, Gabby

Why did you choose SCCO?

I chose SCCO because of its welcoming tight-knit community and its location. I really like how friendly the admissions team and faculty are. I also appreciate the Southern California weather and that SCCO is only a short flight away from my family in the Bay Area. After speaking to multiple SCCO faculty and students and hearing all the wonderful things they had to say about SCCO, I knew that was where I was meant to be.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

I enjoy hiking, trying new places to eat, and spending time with my friends and family.

Any advice for Prospective Students?

Do not be afraid to ask questions because there are so many people that have gone through the same process and are willing to help.

How can you help prospective students?

I am a first generation college and grad school student so I had to figure out a lot on my own. If you’re in a similar place, please contact me and I can share things I learned along the road to optometry!

Supanat SritapanSupanat Sritapan

Why did you choose SCCO?

After doing some research on SCCO, I realized that it is one of the oldest and the most established optometry schools in the nation. The faculty members and professors are distinguished and are very experienced at what they do. SCCO also has cutting edge technology and great clinical emphasis for the optometry program. Thus, these factors will help me obtain all the necessary training I need to become an excellent optometrist in the modern world.

Another reason that greatly influenced my decision to choose SCCO is the overall atmosphere of the school. I heard (from optometrists and mutual friends) that the faculty members are very welcoming and helpful, and that the school feels like a tight-knit community.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

When I’m not studying, I try to do things that help me relax and unwind. I like to go on walks and listen to music. If I have a lot of free time, I work on music (remixing and making mixes).

Any advice for Prospective Students?

Be well-rounded, but also know your limits.

How can you help prospective students?

I am a first generation graduate school student who immigrated from Thailand to America when I was 10. Coming to a new country as a child had it’s challenges but they helped me become who I am today.

Ally TranTran, Ally

Why did you choose SCCO?

SCCO provided me with the most guidance for my optometry journey, such as preparing for OAT and applications. I recognized the effort SCCO staff and students place in order to build success in others and I wanted to attend a program where students and staff members supported and encouraged one another. Additionally, SCCO’s IPE education would allow me to understand and communicate with other healthcare professionals, which is an important skill to have for any health profession.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

Picnics in the park are my favorite things to do when the weather is nice! I also love painting and I just started practicing embroidery!

Any advice for Prospective Students?

To be a competitive applicant, you need to become the kind of person that would make an excellent student and eye care provider. This expands beyond perfect GPA & OAT scores. Having experiences that you are passionate about, leadership positions you grow from, and gaining valuable patient care interaction are all factors that make you a competitive and confident applicant. Instead of focusing only on GPA, consider your application holistically and spend more time playing on your strengths and representing your values in your application.

How can you help prospective students?

I took one gap year before attending grad school and it was the best decision for me!

Tran, VanessaVanessa Tran

Why did you choose SCCO?

I chose SCCO because as an applicant, the admissions team did an amazing job making MBKU feel like home. Not only was the atmosphere among the team amazing, but current students and faculty were also able to show how much they loved the school and everything in the curriculum that helped make MBKU a great community. Additionally, I have my friends and family here that can provide me with a strong support system while I attend school in Orange County.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

Going to music festivals, going to the gym, watching anime, checking out coffee shops, watching streamers, and hanging out with my cat!

Any advice for Prospective Students?

Although numbers on paper like GPA and OAT score are important, it’s also equally important to show your personality and passion for optometry. Don’t be afraid to talk about why you enjoy the field or what relevant experiences you’ve loved. Everyone on the admissions team at SCCO is very kind and they are always looking for the good in applicants. There’s more to the students than numbers and that’s what they’re trying to find out in the personal statement, interviews, and experiences.

How can you help prospective students?

I’m a first generation college student, I took a gap year, and I’m living at home and commuting to school. If you have any questions about any of those areas let me know!

Kaitlyn TsouTsou, Kaitlyn

Why did you choose SCCO?

I chose SCCO because I have seen how SCCO emphasizes care on the patient as a whole person. Also, there are also many community outreach opportunities and volunteer work to spread more awareness of proper eye health which I was looking for in a school since learning of how little the average person knows about the importance of getting vision screenings, especially parents knowing that for their children. Seeing that SCCO was “unmatched” in clinical experience was also a stand out, which ensured to me that I would be getting the best education that I can be getting.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

Go to the beach or to disneyland!

Any advice for Prospective Students?

Be as authentic as you can when writing your personal statement. Rather than trying to find an extremely moving or dramatic story that may not be yours, write about your experiences as much as possible. Just be you!

How can you help prospective students?

I can help organize your time in terms of application or studying for the oat while still in undergrad. I went straight from undergrad to grad school and applied during undergrad. It’s a lot, but very doable with a good plan!

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