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!
A continuing video series featuring facutly who teach first year SCCO students, meet John Lee, OD, FAAO and hear his advice to incoming optometry students.
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.
Why did I choose to major in dance in undergrad if I planned on pursuing a career in optometry? What was I hoping to gain? Was I wasting my time?
These are questions I asked myself as I plowed through hours of homework, studying, and rehearsals while majoring in both dance and biological sciences at UC Irvine. Since high school, I was set on being an optometrist
As a first generation college student with parents who were unable to support me financially, making the decision to pursue optometry school took a lot of consideration. Not only is the cost of attending optometry school a big consideration, but for students who are financially independent, even just the cost of preparing and applying to optometry school can be daunting….
I would love to share my story on how I found my passion within optometry in the hopes that aspiring optometry students can relate. If you are feeling indecisive or confused on what career path to take after graduating, know that I have been in your shoes and it will be okay.