Name: Alexis Garcia
Hometown: Belvidere, IL
Where did you do your undergrad education? What was your major, what degree did you earn, and what year did you graduate?
I did my undergraduate education at Benedictine University. I was a biology major and earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology. I graduated in 2022.
Describe the moment when you realized you wanted to become an optometrist.
I realized I wanted to become an optometrist when my childhood optometrist told me about how the eye is the only part of the body where blood vessels can be directly seen and when he helped me by prescribing me contact lenses to be able to continue playing my favorite sport.
Why did you choose IUSO?
I chose IUSO because of the very strong family feel that the school and its staff provided during my admissions day. I knew immediately that the school would provide me with the perfect environment to develop my academic, professional, and personal skills.
What has been your favorite part or moment of being an optometry student so far?
My favorite part of being an optometry student so far has been being able to not only learn about the eyes but also being able to connect information between all of my classes and being surrounded by others that share the same passion for it all.
Why did you get involved in NOSA?
I got involved with NOSA because working as an optician in a large Spanish-speaking area before beginning optometry school showed me the importance of promoting service to minorities and underserved communities. This experience made me very eager to serve these communities and I know that NOSA plays a large role in supporting this passion.
Do you plan on staying engaged with NOA when you become a doctor? Why?
I do plan on staying engaged with NOA when I become a doctor because NOA will not only support me as a new graduate and minority optometrist but also continue to support the overall passion to help minorities and underserved communities by helping to recruit minority students into optometry schools.
Who has been your mentor or the person you reach out to the most?
Dr. Patrice Tankam is someone that I have found to be very supporting and helpful but also the connections and relationships between students in the class are so strong that we all feel very comfortable reaching out to each other with any questions we might have.
What advice (or words of encouragement) would you give a current high-school or undergrad student who is interested in optometry as a possible career?
I would tell them that optometry is a great profession to get into and that one of the best things you can do is to being to shadow optometrist in different settings so that you really familiarize yourself with the full scope of optometry and what the profession all entails.
When you have free time, what do you like to do?
When I have free time, I enjoy gathering up some friends to go play some soccer on campus. This is and has always been for me my favorite way to destress and step away from school.
What state do you want to practice in after graduating? What kind of optometry practice or specialty do you want to work in?
I would like to practice in the Illinois after graduating because of all the family that lives there. Although it still feels early to say, I believe I would enjoy working in a private practice setting where I could make get to really know my patients and create strong relationships with them.