It can be said that a gap year offers a great opportunity to gain experiences, save money, and have time to refine your application. However, because I was eager to start optometry school and felt like I made the most of my undergraduate years, I opted not to take that gap year. I had enjoyed my undergrad experience fully, I took every opportunity to be involved in variety of experiences by graduation. To not take that gap year was a personal choice for me that also meant finding ways to balance the OAT and application while still taking courses and finishing up my undergrad degree.
Before entering optometry school and after finishing undergrad, I took three years to “test out” optometry.
Deciding to attend optometry school can be a big decision to make, and I wanted to ensure that it was something I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to. I worked full time in private practice to gain some preliminary skills which had the bonus of giving me incredible insights into the field. I also wanted a reset after finishing my undergraduate education. This time allowed me to rediscover some old hobbies like reading and cooking, and also to do some traveling. However, getting back into the swing of school, specifically optometry school, with a rigorous schedule was initially daunting.
This one goes out to all the dreams I left behind…
I sometimes joke that I’m not on plan B or C, instead I am on to Roman Numerals. I never had a dream job when I was a kid, so I have tried a lot of things. I knew though what I didn’t want to be. I never wanted to be in the medical field. My dad was a RN in a hospital, and it did not sound good to me. and so I wrote the whole healthcare provider thing off. In college I accidently stumbled into a Spanish major and had some free time, so I added on art as a double major. When I graduated college, the U.S. was just heading into the recession, and ao I was happy to get ANY job. Turns out I didn’t like that job, so I got different a job, and then a different job, and the list goes on. Then I had the job that turned out to change my life. This job was so terrible that I went home after a practically bad day that involved stalking a dog and got up the nerve to take a job aptitude survey on the DOL website to find out what else I could do…Survey said: doctor
Taking a gap year was the best decision I’ve made during my application process. Instead of rushing to fit a certain timeline, I decided to take a mental break from school and spend more time expanding my patient care experience. This extra time before optometry school helped me become a better prepared and more confident applicant when completing my applications.
I applied to optometry school as an out-of-state student during the summer of 2020, right in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, unfortunately I was unable to visit the optometry schools I applied to; however, I still managed to pick the school that fit me best, and here’s how I did it!
My name is Supanat Sritapan, but I also go by Soup. I am a first generation graduate school student who immigrated from Thailand to America when I was 10 years old. Although growing up on the other side of the globe affected how I navigated through the U.S. education system, I was still able to find my way here to SCCO.
I always was in love with the idea of optometry. I loved the idea of seeing patients day to day. Though when I look back on my first thoughts about becoming an optometrist, I never knew how diverse the field truly is.
My path to optometry definitely wasn’t perfect.
During my final year of undergrad, I thought that I would pursue a career as either becoming a RN or PA. This intention continued even after I graduated from UCSB. I became a licensed EMT during my senior year and decided this should be my first job out of college. This plan would give me a chance to receive clinical hours as well as get a feel for what patient care is like in the hospital setting. After about 3 months of working with long 12-hour shifts, I realized that this type of work was exhausting and unfortunately for me, not fulfilling. This experience forced me reconsider what I wanted to do for a career.
I’m an international student so moving to foreign countries is second nature to me! Beginning a professional program is difficult and nerve wracking on its own. It is even more overwhelming when you have to pack up your life and move across oceans to turn your dreams into reality.
Growing up in the cultural melting pot of Southern California, I found comfort in my cultural and ethnic identity because it helped me define myself. As a child of Egyptian immigrants with agricultural roots, hard work and resilience were core values that enriched my environment through multiple outlets that contributed to my overall development.