Name: Rafael Rodriguez Jr.
Hometown: Barstow, CA
Where did you do your undergrad education? What was your major, what degree did you earn, and what year did you graduate?
ASU: Biology degree, 2019 graduation
Describe the moment when you realized you wanted to become an optometrist.
I wanted to become an optometrist in the 10th grade when I got my ﬁrst pair of glasses. I never knew I needed glasses, and am now amblyopic because I had gone so long without glasses.
Why did you choose IUSO?
I chose IUSO because it was a very nice school and everyone was beyond friendly and nice. I was born and raised in California and it is a very diﬀerent atmosphere of fun, friendliness, and much greener!
What has been your favorite part or moment of being an optometry student so far?
My favorite part so far is being able to understand how the eye works in depth. A lot of people don’t understand just how intricate and delicate the eye is, after all it is a part of the brain!
Why did you get involved in NOSA?
I got involved with NOSA because it is such a big part of optometry and the occupation.
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. I plan on keeping myself in the organization to stay up to date with all that is happening with the profession.
Who has been your mentor or the person you reach out to the most?
I currently do not have a mentor or anyone that I reach out to the most. However, it would be very helpful having someone guide me as a student. I do keep in touch with my optometrist and ask questions, however it is very diﬃcult to have them be my mentor as they live across the United States.
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?
Something I believe everyone should know who plans on entering this ﬁeld, whether it’s someone looking forward to it who’s in high school, someone from undergrad, or even someone looking for a change in professional ﬁelds, is that it is going to be a legislated profession. I did not really know or understand it at the time, but the laws and scope of practice varies by each state and is something to take into consideration when looking at optometry as a career choice. With that being said, even though it varies by state, being able to impact and improve someone’s life is always worth ﬁghting for!
When you have free time, what do you like to do?
In my free time, I like to watch shows, play intramural sports, or just hang out with friends!
What state do you want to practice in after graduating? What kind of optometry practice or specialty do you want to work in?
It is very diﬃcult knowing what exactly I will be doing after graduation. My optometrist that I had back home said I will always have a job at his two clinics, and it would be very rewarding to give back to my community. However, California is a state that does not allow the full scope of practice that other states do. It is possible that I go back for a few years to give back to my community and then move on to a place that allows for a wider scope of practice. I would like to practice in primary care and possibly specialize in pediatrics. Any line of work that comes my way will be rewarding knowing that I will be improving all types of peoples lives.