Student Ambassador Blog Articles

Giving Back by SCCO Student Ambassador Gabriela Orozco

A series of articles written by SCCO Student Ambassadors, first up is Gabriela Orozco. To learn more about Gaby, where she is from, and why she chose SCCO, find her bio here listed alphabetically.

How My Passion for Optometry Helps Me Give Back: Perspective from a First Generation College Student

By SCCO Student Ambassador, Gabriela Orozco

¿Hay alguien que hable español? Is there someone who speaks Spanish?

When I hear those words anywhere, I feel overjoyed because I know I can help someone who is struggling. Helping others has always been a priority for me, and that is why I decided to pursue a professional career that will allow me to directly improve people’s lives every day.

Growing up, I always loved going to the optometrist because it was the only doctor’s appointment I actually looked forward to; but as I got older, I realized not many people shared this same experience. I found out many people don’t even know what optometry is, what optometrists do, and due to a lack of resources, have never even had an eye exam.

During my undergraduate career at UC Davis, I volunteered at the Knights Landing One Health Center, a student-run clinic that provides healthcare services to the rural underserved in the Knights Landing area. There I was able to see firsthand the effects of healthcare disparities in underserved communities. Most of our patients did not have health insurance or  transportation to medical treatment facilities, so our clinic’s limited services were the only care they could receive. As a volunteer, my favorite task was interpreting for the Spanish-speaking patients because through our narrative medicine approach. I learned so much more about their lives aside from just their symptoms. This allowed me to form a sense of community with the patients and volunteers.

My goal as a future optometrist is to help underserved communities by providing them linguistically competent and culturally sensitive services.

As I endure the struggles of optometry school, what motivates me now is knowing that in a few years I will be able to serve these communities. As a first-generation student it has been hard navigating the college system on my own; but I know the struggles are worth it because I am paving the way for future generations. My best advice for first generation students is to not be afraid to ask questions because there is always someone who is willing to help. I know that applying to professional school can be daunting, but if you ask a lot questions along the way, you slowly start to figure it out.

Take it one step at a time, don’t doubt your capabilities, and try not to compare yourself to others because everyone’s road to optometry school is different.

If you have any questions for me, contact me at

Knights Landing One Health Center , UC Davis: Gabby is front row seated, 2nd from the left

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