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Why I Chose SCCO

M kaliski cover photo

SCCO was the first optometry school I learned about at the beginning of my journey!

To take a few steps back, my interest in eyes and vision science has been in the works since I first watched a cow eye dissection on a school field trip at the Exploratorium to my photography phase capturing the depth and detail of dog and human eyes. The point of transition where I thought, “Ok, optometry is something I am really interested in,” occurred during my first visit to the UC Irvine Gavin Herbert Eye Institute during my 3rd year in college. Dr. Timothy Liegler met me in the waiting room and quickly noticed my UCI rowing shirt. To my surprise, he was a UCI alum who was on the rowing team! As we exchanged stories about rowing, I asked about his optometry career, and he explained each step of the process and told me about his alma mater: SCCO. A short time later, I met another optometrist who had the same energy as Dr. Liegler and I admired how both optometrists were passionate about caring for others and making a difference in their patients’ vision and lives. I desired to follow suit and explore the profession further.

The following summer, I sought out an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the optometry field. Through UC Irvine’s pre-optometry club, U See Eyes, I found a 10-week internship opportunity at FLOE Optometry in Irvine. At my internship, I worked with 2 more SCCO alumni, Dr. Justin Wong and Dr. Carla Chiu. I started with shadowing the technicians and by the end of my internship, I was independently pre-testing patients. The cheery office atmosphere, friendly patients, and the overwhelming support from the doctors, technicians, and opticians made my internship experience one I will never forget.

Following my internship, I became an official part of the staff at FLOW as a technician, took the OAT, and started applying to schools. Location was one factor I considered when choosing to apply to SCCO as I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and attended college at UCI, so staying in-state and close to familiar surroundings was ideal. Additional considerations included SCCO’s interprofessional education, the over 80 locations for clinical rotations, and their legacy as being the first and oldest optometry school in California.

During my application process, I attended SCCO’s summer admissions workshop, Eryn Kraning’s SCCO presentation at U See Eyes, and finally interview day. The welcoming atmosphere of the faculty and students paralleled that of all the SCCO alumni I had interacted with, making SCCO the right decision for me.

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