Reading My Personal Statement | Optometry School
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— Prompt: “Please describe what inspires your decision for becoming an optometrist, including your preparation for training in this profession, your aptitude and motivation, the basis for your interest in optometry, and your future career goals. Your essay should be limited to 4500 characters”
— Full Text: “Halfway through a two year service mission to the Spanish-speaking communities of Arizona, I found myself visiting an optometrist for the very first time. I had recently discovered that it was not normal for the faces of those I was helping to appear so blurry from a distance. My experience with the doctor changed the way I saw the world – both literally and figuratively. I realized that in order to better serve the people of Arizona, I needed to help myself and take care of my eyesight. I gained a new vision that day, and knew that I would have a future in the field of optometry. With improved eyesight, I continued to give my all in serving the border communities of Arizona, dreaming of the day I would be able to serve in a different way.
Upon finishing my service mission, I began studying at BYU and sought experience in the optometric field. I first found work in a refractive practice, but later discovered my passion for vision therapy. On my first day, I sat with a patient who had just received the news that her photophobia, nausea, and diplopia were due to a binocular vision dysfunction, caused by a previous concussion. She broke down crying as the severity and reality of her situation came pouring down on her all at once.
None of my previous experience as an optician had prepared me for the emotional and intrapersonal complexities that could be found in optometry. I did not know what it was like to have a traumatic brain injury (TBI). I did not know what it was like to yearn so badly for my former way of life that I would travel across the ocean from the Netherlands to try one last form of treatment. Because I could not relate to her experiences, I resorted to the only thing I could do: I sat and listened as she shared her experiences with me. I started to see this woman as more than just a patient, but as an individual who just needed someone to listen and comfort her. As we worked together and witnessed her symptoms disappear, I caught the vision that the setbacks she was facing were curable through vision therapy.
This first patient of mine inspired me with a drive to understand others with similar cases, yet different life experiences. On my first day, I did not know what to expect; with time, I have learned to be humble and listen so that I can help patients feel more understood and cater the therapy to their specific needs. One of my greatest joys is witnessing formerly shattered lives being repaired piece-by-piece from week to week.
While working with TBI patients, I also discovered a passion for pediatrics. One family had just immigrated from Mexico and their 11-year-old daughter was brought in for non-surgical treatment for a lazy eye. The doctor informed her that in addition to her intermittent suppression, she dealt with convergence insufficiency, accommodative excess, and saccadic dysfunction. Initially, the vision therapy process was difficult and uncomfortable for her to understand. Yet as I connected with her in her native language, sought for ways to make her laugh and adapted the exercises to be more fun, she opened up and we both witnessed the miracles of optometry: her reading-induced headaches vanished and learning became fun for her again. In her final weeks of treatment, I loved to see her face light up when she was told we would be working together again. Children like this give me a daily reminder of the joy, hope, and healing our profession can offer.
Through my experiences, I have learned that optometry is a way for people to regain their confidence as they recognize that the problems they face are not a result of their own inadequacies. Like the woman from the Netherlands and the 11 year old girl have taught me, a simple change in vision can change the trajectory and outlook of one’s life. I desire to be a medical professional for the marginalized and misunderstood. I will diligently work each day in optometry school to be the kind of optometrist who can positively impact and empower the lives of others. I dream of starting a bilingual practice focused on pediatric care and vision therapy. I look forward to being an optometrist that goes beyond glasses and contacts and brings awareness to school systems and other medical professionals about the necessity of our profession. I have learned that the best way to change the world is by helping others see the world, one person at a time; I cannot wait to get started.”
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