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Successful Applicants—Optometry

Successful Applicants to Optometry Programs

Success Stories by Year of Matriculation



2023 Matriculants


Headshot: [Applicant Name]

Name: Izabella Bangiyeva
Major: Sociology
Minor: Mathematics
Overall GPA: 4.0
Graduation Year: 2023
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: SUNY College of Optometry

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I was fascinated how optometrists not only help people see better but are also able to detect underlining conditions in one’s overall health.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I was involved in numerous shadowing and internship opportunities that pertained to the field of optometry. In addition, I joined the board of several clubs, such as Teleshadowing, the Macaulay Pre-Health Club and the Project Hope Club. In my last year at Hunter, I became a Peer TA for organic chemistry and held office hours weekly. I was also a TA at Catholic Charities of New Orleans and prepared immigrants for their Naturalization exam through Zoom. Aside from my activities at Hunter, I am a former figure skater and volunteered as an Assistant Skating Coach.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: Thirty hours per week

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I did not take an OAT prep course. I mostly reviewed slides and notes from my pre-req courses, searched up videos for content I forgot or didn’t know, and used books I bought for practice problems. I bought the OAT Kaplan book and several books from OAT Destroyer. In total, I had and spent less than 8 weeks to study for the exam.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: No.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Aside from my GPA (4.0) and OAT score (99th percentile), I have had numerous clinical experiences in the field of optometry that helped me learn about numerous eye conditions. Despite applying as a sophomore, I acquired ample quality experiences in community service and in clinical settings and was also able to demonstrate leadership.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No, I only applied to SUNY Optometry because I knew I wanted to stay in New York.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: I have worked with Kemile Jackson during the entire application process. She edited my personal statement, work & experience responses, and the secondaries. Upon receiving an interview invite, Nina Ledis had a mock interview with me, which was very helpful.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: As a pre-health student at Hunter, we are just one of hundreds of other pre-health students. As such, it is important for individuals to stay on top of their deadlines and responsibilities, whether it is studying for rigorous science classes or fulfilling the requirements for the Committee Letter. Using calendars and meticulously filling out each day’s goals will help students stay on track.


Headshot: [Applicant Name]

Name: Liana Simontobova
Major: Biological Sciences
Minor: Sociology
Overall GPA: 3.89
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2023

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: SUNY College of Optometry

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: During my fourth year of college, I decided to switch from the pre-med to the pre-optometry track. Once I began shadowing and working alongside optometrists, I realized I was passionate about making connections with patients long-term and overseeing their treatment through to the end, which I will be able to do as an optometrist. My love for optometry lies in its unique blend of science, healthcare, and human connection, which all resonate with my personal values and interests. Pursuing a career in optometry also meant I could focus on the part of the body that I find the most fascinating. The eye is not only an extraordinary sensory organ but also a predictor for a variety of diseases and illnesses. I have personally witnessed optometrists successfully detect early signs of autoimmune conditions, neurological conditions (specifically Alzheimer’s and brain tumors), and severe vitamin deficiencies from a simple annual vision screening. This multifaceted field also allows me to pursue opportunities outside of patient care such as research, practice management, academia, advocacy for policy promotion and regulation, and leadership within organizations that develop our standard of practice. This broad spectrum of opportunities is what made the choice of optometry the right one for me.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:

  • Research intern at Weill Cornell Medicine and also presented at their annual research retreat.
  • Lead program coordinator for Jewish-Health and Former Soviet Union Club Pre-health Speaker Series
  • Part of leadership committee for Former Soviet Union Club and Russian fellowship at Hunter Hillel
  • Volunteer/shadowing at Vision World (Optometry Practice)
  • Volunteer for Be My Eyes - assisted the visually impaired virtually on an as-needed basis.
  • Medical assistant at Greater NY Ophthalmology (Medical Practice)
  • Biology tutor
  • Full time researcher at The Cancer Prevention Center in Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Volunteer at Jamaica Hospital Cardiac Cath laboratory
  • Virtual shadowing programs (ClubMedShu/Webshadowers)
  • Volunteer at Lenox Hill Hospital Cardiac Cath Lab
  • Research intern at Gastroenterology and Hepatology Divisions at Weill Cornell Medicine
  • Volunteer at Pre-Health Mentoring Initiative as well as Pre-health Ambassador
  • Scribe/volunteer at Crescent Medical Center (Medical Practice)

 

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I spent about 20-25 hours per week studying for my courses.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, I used the Princeton Review course.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took one gap year before matriculating so that I would have plenty of time to refine my application. During my year off, I was very intentional in pursuing opportunities that would provide me with insight into the practice of primary eye care and that would enable me to fully understand and utilize all the facets that optometry has to offer. I had the privilege of working alongside three well-established physicians who graduated from SUNY College of Optometry during the majority of my gap year. This experience enriched my knowledge and skills, fueled my passion for optometry, and provided me with confidence as I enter my first year.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I consider my strengths to be my academic standing and my wide range of extracurricular activities that showcase my excitement for eyecare, effective leadership, and dedication to community service. Throughout this process, I have been able to reflect on my experiences and effectively apply them to the field of optometry, which has made me a well-rounded applicant. When the time came to prepare for interviews and to write my essays, engaging in self-reflection was the key to effectively convey my reasons and motivations for pursuing optometry school.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No, I applied to all the optometry schools in the Northeast.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: I cannot thank Kemile, Veronica, and Nina enough for all the dedication, encouragement, and advice that they provided me. They have been with me every step of the way from my freshman year chemistry course to my optometry school interviews. Not only did they help me understand this application process and all its intricacies, but they also inspired my confidence as a student and as a future professional. By always sharing constructive criticism, they helped strengthen my application. I can say with certainty that I would not be in my current position without them.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Your time at Hunter College is precious. You are undergoing a time in which you discover who you are as a person and a student. Do what you love with your time because it shows schools that you are a well-rounded person who is able to manage your time while still staying true to yourselves. Seek out opportunities that showcase those passions and truly take the time to self-reflect on how these experiences have shaped you as an individual and your desire to attend optometry school. Academic achievement will not take you all the way! Your experiences and extracurriculars are where you get to demonstrate your diverse set of attributes and how they will shape you as a future optometrist. On that note, don’t be afraid to go after those experiences early on in your undergraduate career. Ideally, you want quality experiences that span over time rather than shorter ones, as those will be much harder to reflect on. Give yourself that room to take things step by step and to start early.

Another recommendation is to seek proper guidance. The pre-health office is one of your biggest assets! They are there to help you every step of the way; don't be afraid to ask! They can help you with applications and finding the right experiences that fall in line with your interests. Most importantly, they are there to support you when you are struggling.

My biggest piece of advice is to take care of yourself every step of the way. Time management should include time for your interests outside of school. Taking care of yourself also means being willing to step down from certain commitments when you take on more than you can handle. Be sure to evaluate your priorities every step of the way. Lastly, your journey is your own, so focus on your timeline. Comparing yourself to others only undermines your confidence. Remember that you got this far and that you are already resilient.

Stay positive, and good luck to all of you!


2022 Matriculants


Headshot: Man Yi (Joyce) Gao

Name: Man Yi (Joyce) Gao
Major: Biological Sciences
Minor: Asian American Studies
Overall GPA: 3.93
Graduation Year: 2021
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: SUNY College of Optometry.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: As someone who had been going to the same optometrist for years, I grew curious about the field and decided to learn more by shadowing my optometrist and working at a joint ophthalmic/optometric clinic. Through working and shadowing, I learned about various ocular diseases and how the eyes are interconnected with the rest of the body. I was also drawn to this multifaceted profession where an optometrist not only works at the front line of providing care for visual impairments, but can also pursue opportunities in academia, research, business, and even professional branding.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:

  • Served as the Vice President of the Pre-Optometry Society
  • Participated in CSTEP at SUNY Optometry
  • Volunteered at Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Mentored pre-health students at Hunter through the Pre-Health Mentoring Initiative
  • Interned at the Lighthouse Guild
  • Worked as an ophthalmic technician
  • Shadowed multiple optometrists who worked in primary care and various other specialties

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: On average, I studied around 25-30 hours per week for my courses.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I self-studied using the Kaplan books, OAT Destroyer, and Chad's videos, and took multiple full-length practice exams to prepare for the OAT exam.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes, I took a gap year to gain more experience within the field and travel before going back to school. During my gap year, I continued to work at the clinic where I was employed during college. I also served as a Hunter College TA for Introduction to Biology Lab.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I believe that my extracurriculars and experiences in the profession were the strengths of my application, and I was able to draw upon these experiences in both my writing and during the interview day. Another highlight in my application was my study abroad experience, which although it did not pertain to healthcare, served as a point of interest during multiple interviews.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I only applied to programs in the Northeast.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office offered me guidance throughout my application process. I discovered multiple opportunities through the Pre-Med Listserv, which allowed me to gain exposure and learn more about the profession. Furthermore, during the application process, I met with my advisor, Ms. Jackson, on a monthly basis to review my personal statement, experiences, and secondary essays. During the interview season, Ms. Mitchell offered multiple mock interviews for me to practice, which allowed me to feel at ease during my interviews.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Seek out opportunities, join the Pre-Optometry Society, and shadow and/or work in an optometric setting! There are several resources through optometry schools, the Pre-Med List-Serv, and the Pre-Optometry Society. These experiences will not only allow you to learn more about the profession but also help you solidify your decision. Learn to balance and allocate your time for not only your studies and extracurriculars, but also for breaks in between. Lastly, do not hesitate to ask for help; you have the Pre-Health Office, the Pre-Optometry Society members, Pre-Health mentors, admissions officers, and multiple resources at hand.


Headshot: Maya Mekawy

Name: Maya Mekawy
Major: Biological Sciences
Minor: Asian American Studies
Overall GPA: 3.93
Graduation Year: 2021
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: SUNY College of Optometry.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I was first drawn to the field of optometry after learning about the ability of optometrists to not only treat vision issues but also detect systemic diseases and underlying conditions. Through shadowing multiple optometrists, I observed a multitude of intriguing cases that required the integration of multiple disciplines. As a result, the wide-range applications and impressive variety that the field maintains solidified my interest in pursuing optometry as a career.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: On average, I spent around 40-45 hours a week studying for my courses.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I self-studied for the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) using the OAT Destroyer books, Kaplan practice exams, Chad's Videos, and Crack OAT practice exams.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: No, I did not take a gap year.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Some of the strong points in my application include my experiences at different optometric practices. Shadowing, interning, and working at different locations have helped me learn more about how optometrists vary in practice and at times collaborate with ophthalmologists to treat mutual patients.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No. SUNY Optometry was my first choice school.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office contributed greatly to my ability of achieving my goals. I would schedule appointments with my advisor at least once every semester and more if I had any questions. They assessed my performance in courses, guided me through which classes I needed to take, and discussed effective preparation methods for the OAT. Additionally, they were also essential during my application process when I had the opportunity to review my complete application with my advisor prior to submitting it.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Take advantage of all of the opportunities that Hunter College has to offer. Networking and getting out of your comfort zone will make your experience at Hunter a very productive and memorable one. This of course comes second to being on top of your courses and making sure that your grades are at or better than your target schools' expectations.


Headshot: Jailine Carrion

Name: Jailine Carrion
Major: Biochemistry/ Special Honors Program Major
Minor: Sociology
Overall GPA: 3.8
Graduation Year: 2020
Matriculation Year: 2022

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: SUNY College of Optometry.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: My interest in optometry began after my grandmother had an unsuccessful cataract surgery and as a family, we began looking for resources to have her adapt to her new way of life. As I began to research, I realized that optometry was not only about getting an eye checkup once a year but rather a much larger field with an immense number of specialties. I solidified my decision to pursue a career in the field after becoming involved in the low-vision clinic at the Lighthouse Guild and shadowing other optometrists outside of the organization and seeing the difference they made in their patients' lives.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:

  • Volunteer at the Adult Day Care Program at Lighthouse Guild
  • Pre-Health Mentor at Hunter College
  • Extensive shadowing experiences at several private optometry clinics
  • Intern at the low vision clinic at the Lighthouse Guild
  • Member of the Pre-Optometry Club at Hunter College
  • CSTEP programs at SUNY College of Optometry (Winter Internship and the Summer Academic Program)
  • Undergraduate research at Hunter College

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: On average, about 20-25 hours a week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I self-studied using the OAT destroyer, Chad’s videos, Kaplan OAT Prep, and notes from my undergraduate classes. By the last month before the OAT, I started to take about 1-2 full-length practice exams weekly. I also took advantage of going to my local library to find the Kaplan prep books of the most recent years and utilizing those full-length practice tests.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: Yes. I decided to take a gap year to study for the OAT, work in the field, and travel a bit before starting optometry school. During my gap year, I started working as a clinical research coordinator at the Edward S. Harkness Institute at Columbia University, where I was exposed to optometry in the light of clinical research. I would say that this experience definitely helped strengthen my application and also solidify my decision to pursue a career in optometry.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My application strengths were the volunteering and research experiences that I had, along with the strong recommendation letters I received from professors and doctors I had the privilege of working with. My GPA and the preparation I had for interviews were also of importance during the application process.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I applied to SUNY College of Optometry only.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising Office assisted me since day one. During my first year, I met with several advisors to prepare me for applying to the CSTEP program at SUNY Optometry. I was also connected with a Pre-Health mentor and other students who were interested in optometry. Throughout the subsequent years, I worked closely with Nina and Kemile while applying to different opportunities I was interested in (some available through the Pre-Health Listserv) and to keep me on track for being a well-qualified applicant for optometry school. Lastly, even during my gap year, I kept in contact with the advisors who helped me in improving my application, personal statement, and readiness for interviews. I felt thoroughly supported throughout all my time at Hunter.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Always seek help when needed; you are not alone. Being a pre-med student can be very overwhelming, especially in an environment full of high-achieving students. However, do not forget that there are pre-health advisors and mentors for all subjects to help guide you. Join clubs related to the field you are interested in to meet other students who are in the same position as you. Lastly, do not compare yourself to others because everyone has a unique journey and that is what makes you and your application special!


2021 Matriculants


Headshot: Grace Ji

Name: Grace Ji
Major: Human Biology
Minor: Religion
Overall GPA: 3.84
Graduation Year: 2021
Matriculation Year: 2021

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: SUNY College of Optometry.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: I loved the ability to improve the quality life of patients through their vision care. I think that vision is important to our sense of confidence, ability to live productive lives, and overall well-being.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I participated in SHPEP, C-STEP at SUNY Optometry, and NYU HCOP. I also volunteered at my church as a Sunday school teacher, served at SOON Movement as a small group leader, volunteered as a volunteer outreach leader, and shadowed 3 different practices.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I probably spent around 2-3 hours a day except for weekends, and if any exams were coming up, I would probably double the time I spent studying for that exam.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I did. I used OAT Bootcamp, Coursesaver, and Kaplan.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: No, I did not take a gap year.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I consider my consistency and ability to convey my experiences a strength. I also think that I had to develop my organizational skills to support my journey to get into optometry school.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I personally only applied to SUNY Optometry, but I would recommend others apply to a number of optometry schools.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health community kept me on track for all the application milestones, supported my application through the committee letter, gave me advice, sent out many opportunities for me to apply to, and helped me practice for my interview. I appreciate all their hard work and effort; I sincerely could not have done this without them.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: I would advise others to create a timeline for taking their classes and extracurriculars they plan to do. I also suggest asking for help as early as possible, and to apply to as many opportunities as possible.


2020 Matriculants


Headshot: Humayra Kabir Rima

Name: Humayra Kabir Rima
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.4
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school are you attending?
A: SUNY College of Optometry.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: The origin of my desire lies in my childhood, the first pair of glasses gave me optimistic determination and confidence that I am normal, and that I could succeed. Besides that, I love the clinical interaction with people, and I look forward to becoming an optometrist because through internships and shadowing, I discovered the clinical aspects of this profession and learned how gratifying this profession is. I would like to help my patients with my knowledge about their medical and personal needs while enjoying the intellectual and emotional rewards that an Optometry career provides. Optometry is a field where I can have the lifestyle which I envision for myself while staying true to my commitment to helping others.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A:

  1. Pre-Optometry Society of Hunter College — Treasurer
  2. Pre-Health Mentoring Initiative — Peer Advisor
  3. Rescuing Leftover Cuisine — Lead Rescuer
  4. Hunter Athlete for Women's Fencing team
  5. Shadowing and doing Internships in-state and out-state related to Optometry

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I spent 40 hours on average per week studying. And one month before the exam I was re-vising notes, re-practicing questions, and re-studying for as many hours needed. Note: Honestly, it depends on each individual. Every person studies their own way and needs time to study according to their needs. Find what works for you and do some research.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, I used DAT Bootcamp, OAT Bootcamp for Physics, and Course Hero. I also looked over and practiced questions from KAPLAN and Oat Destroyer

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I did take a gap year. It is because I was International student (F1 status) and was rigorously studying and working. Hence, I did not have time for myself and for my family. I wanted to visit my parents in my homeland, Bangladesh. Also, my gap year was a treat for me for the hard work and lifestyle I had for the 4 years I was in school. So, before getting into another 4 years of studying, I wanted to have complete time for myself and for my family.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: Hunter college has given me incredible opportunities to learn and show my leadership skills. It has given me the platform to learn how communication, patience, and compassion could give someone moral, mental, and physical support. Additionally, studying in one of New York's most diverse colleges, Hunter College has totally assured me of the significant role an individual has in a community as a whole. As a low income, first-generation college student and first-generation immigrant, I have encountered, and surmounted tough obstacles. Despite these challenges- courage, persistence, and hope have constituted the core of my principles, and these values were shown throughout my application. Hence, representing diversity and having leadership skills were two of my strengths which I mentioned in my application.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No, I did not apply nationally. I applied to only one school, which is SUNY College of Optometry. As I am an international student, I did not want to move to another state. As an international student, I was taking housing expenses and tuition fees into consideration.

Q: How did Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: The Pre-Health Advising office allowed me to discover other health-care professions and to learn about the optometry field. It helped me by providing resources to gain as much knowledge and as many clinical opportunities that I could gain to be a competitive applicant for optometry school. It gave me opportunities to shadow and volunteer at labs and clinics to confirm my decision to become an optometrist, but after concluding my Summer Academic Program'18 and Winter Internship'19 at SUNY College of Optometry, and shadowing more modalities of optometrists, my desire to pursue optometry was solidified. Even after graduating, the Pre-Health advising office helped me to prepare my application for Optometry school and was there to guide me throughout with essays and mock interviews. Even when I had an emotional breakdown, concerns, and issues with my application, grades or interviews, they were always there to boost up my confidence and energy.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Optometry schools review applications on a rolling basis, meaning the sooner you apply, the higher your chance is to get interviews, and there are less students to be compared with; there are also more seats available, so your chances are higher. However, that does not mean you have to rush it. If you think you are not prepared, it is okay to take some more time more if necessary to prepare yourself. Even if you don't have your OAT score, you can still submit your application to OptomCAS and in the OAT section of the application, just state the day you are taking your OAT. Optometry schools will not set up an interview till your OAT score is in, but it takes a few days (up to15 days) for OptomCAS to verify your application and send it to your schools. This way your applications are ready to go as soon as your score is in. You will know what your OAT score is the minute you submit the test, but it takes up to 2 weeks until it is sent to schools. Lastly, do not worry too much about your grades. Just try to increase your GPA and keep doing extracurricular activities. Do not give up, it is just a matter of time. Your determination, hard work and effort will lead you to your dream goal, so everything falls into place if you are really passionate about it.


Headshot: Alex Martin

Name: Alex Martin
Major: Human Biology
Minor: Sociology
Overall GPA: 3.294
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: SUNY College of Optometry.

Q: What drew you to this particular health field?
A: Our school's Pre-Optometry Club was my first introduction to optometry as a whole, and my involvement there led me to apply to several internships at optometry schools. During these programs I learned how optometrists use various techniques to care for both the ocular health and visual acuity of their patients. By repeatedly observing doctor-patient interactions, I saw how impactful this type of work is, and I developed a strong desire to be a part of it.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: In my freshman year at Hunter, I joined the Pre-Optometry Club, Brothers for Excellence program, and the Caribbean Students Union. During my first year, I was very active in all three clubs, but as time progressed I took on greater involvement in the Caribbean Students Union as I became its secretary and then its president. Being a club leader led me to interact with many of the other clubs and student-centered organizations on campus. In my final year at Hunter, I worked at the Student Resource Center, and shadowed optometrists whenever possible.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I usually spent 25-28 hours studying per week, but that amount easily fluctuated during busier times in my life. I often studied during my 1.5 hour long commutes to school, and dedicated larger portions of the days I didn't have classes to studying.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes. I used the Kaplan OAT Self-Guided program. This program provided me with books and practice questions that I used at my own pace. I also used free practice tests from Kaplan and other online resources.

Q: Did you take a GAP year? If so, why?
A: I took a gap year because doing so allowed me to become a more competitive applicant. I've been accumulating more experience in optometry by working at my current, part-time job as a patient coordinator at MOSCOT, where one of my main responsibilities is pre-screening patients. Another reason I took a gap year was to better prepare to take the OAT, which in retrospect was the right thing for me to do.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: I took advantage of the fact that optometry schools practice a rolling admissions process by submitting my applications while the schools still had many seats available. I also think that the number and variety of my shadowing experiences allowed my application to show that I'm well prepared to pursue optometry as a career.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: I limited my school choices to the northeast region of the United States.

Q: How did the Pre-Health Advising Office help you achieve your goals?
A: With the help of the Pre-Health Advising Office, I created a road map to optometry school, and finished my college career without getting lost. Over the years, I've received many helpful emails about events and activities related to Optometry, and I had many counseling sessions that kept me focused on meeting the different requirements for getting accepted to an optometry school. I also received help preparing for my school interviews, through tips and a mock interview.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: If you set a goal or path for yourself, I encourage you to make every effort to understand what you're getting yourself into. If you do that and your desire hasn't changed, then you can handle whatever work and time investment lies ahead of you.]


Headshot: Ridwan Carim-Sanni

Name: Ridwan Carim-Sanni
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.56
Graduation Year: 2019
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: I will be attending the State University of New York College of Optometry to obtain a combined degree in Optometry/Ph.D. (OD/Ph.D.).

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I was an active member of the Minority Students Association and I volunteered for Peer Health Exchange.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: I spent between 20-25 hours per week.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: I studied using the OAT Destroyer test prep, and the OAT Achiever.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My strengths were my OAT scores and my research experiences as well as my unique background.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: Yes, I applied to 3 schools on the East Coast and 1 on the West Coast.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: Stay on top of your game, put in the maximum amount of work in all aspects of your application, and connect with mentors to help make sure that all components of your application are well defined.


Headshot: Sarah Pinkhasov

Name: Sarah Pinkhasov
Major: Biological Sciences, Special Honors Program Major
Minor: Psychology
Overall GPA: 3.945
Graduation Year: 2017
Matriculation Year: 2020

Q: Which school will you be attending?
A: SUNY College of Optometry.

Q: What extracurriculars did you participate in?
A: I was the founding president of the Pre-Optometry Society of Hunter College. I was also a member of the Society of Biometrics, Biology and Hillel Clubs at Hunter College.

Q: How many hours on average did you spend studying for your courses per week?
A: 35-40 hours.

Q: Did you use a test prep course?
A: Yes, OAT Destroyer.

Q: What do you consider to be your strengths in your application?
A: My strengths in my application are my GPA and Optometry Admissions Test (OAT) score, my completion of the CSTEP Internship at SUNY College of Optometry, my diverse array of shadowing experiences in various modes and specialties of optometry, my leadership skills, and my community service involvement.

Q: Did you apply nationally?
A: No.

Q: What advice do you have for others?
A: To be a successful student, one must have good time management skills to be able to balance coursework and other responsibilities outside the classroom and lab. I learned that dedication and perseverance is key; being able to make sacrifices is also important to ensure that you can be the best possible student and overall applicant.

To excel in your courses be sure to take advantage of all the available resources at Hunter; attend professor's office hours, tutoring centers, ask questions, become a TA for a class, etc. Also, attend the various clubs available on campus because they are a huge resource. The Pre-Health clubs provide their members with an abundance of knowledge, professional resources, experiences and skills. By being a member, you will be exposed to various internship and other pre-health/optometry related positions that you can apply for.

Beyond the opportunities that club membership offers, being part of a club is a great networking experience where you can meet students at different levels who can provide great advice and connections. Attending Club meetings and events is also a good social break from your academic studies! In regards to determining which career path is right for you, I believe the best way is to shadow different types of professionals and then determine whether you enjoy the environment. If optometry is your career choice, be sure to also shadow different modes of optometry, such as shadowing doctors in a group practice, private office, eye clinic, hospital, etc. as well as different specialties in optometry, such as low-vision, vision therapy, glaucoma, contact lens, etc.

Be sure to reflect and learn from these experiences. Although at times, being a pre-health college student can get overwhelming, remember to take breaks and know that, in the end, your hard work will pay off, and you will get the results you want.



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