#BlackGirlMagic: Nishan Pressley Is All About Representation on Social Media

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Nishan Pressley is a third-year optometry student at the Salus University—Pennsylvania College of Optometry. The first African-American candidate to be accepted into the Accelerated Scholars Optometry Program, (which allows students to get their doctorate in three years versus the traditional four-year program) she will officially be Doctor Pressley on May 23, 2019. Her Instagram page, Nishvn, is a display of all aspects of her life—from her journey through optometry school, her relationship with her boyfriend and her love for travel.

Her goal is to encourage other people of color to pursue the field of optometry because while she believes that the industry is getting more and more diverse each day, she still sees a lack of representation in the African-American community. “I’m from a small town in Pennsylvania and it wasn’t until I moved to Philadelphia that I saw my first black optometrist,” Pressley stated. “I’ve gotten so many DMs from pre-optometry students saying ‘thank you’ for putting my life on display and answering any questions they may have about optometry. Representation truly does matter.”

Pressley created Nishvn when she was in high school, with the intention of having it focus only on optometry. However, she felt as though showcasing that one aspect of her life wasn’t fully representative of who she is. “My Instagram page is ever-changing. I thought of creating a page solely focused on optometry, but I felt like it would leave out so much of ‘me.’ So I decided to create and post content to show optometry students that you can have a love life, a social life and travel all while performing well in optometry school.”

The page features posts of Pressley at various events or on vacation with her beau, milestones she is making as a future OD—whether that’s her VOSH trip to Haiti or acquiring business cards—and also her impressive sense of style.

Though she created the page some years back, Pressley wasn’t fully into social media because the demands of being in an accelerated doctorate program took up most of her time. “I didn’t truly dive into social media blogging until I began my third year of optometry school. Being in the Accelerated Scholars Program, the first two years were strictly dedicated to vigorous didactic course work and clinical skills. There wasn’t much time to make a YouTube video or take Instagram pictures when you knew you had a neuro exam next week!” she told VMail Weekend. “Now, I have more time to think about and curate content that I’m proud to put out to the world.”

  

Despite having to take a step back from social media, Pressley has grown her following to over 4,000 since she’s invested more time in Nishvn. She now updates the account on a daily basis, whether she posts something on her timeline or creates an Instagram story. She also tries to post her “Case of the Day” series to keep her followers engaged and uses hashtags #Caseoftheday and #JourneytoDrNish in order to disseminate all the new information she learns on a daily basis.

In addition to Nishvn, Pressley also has a budding YouTube channel, Beauty and Brains TV, which is an extension of her Instagram page. The goal, she stated, is to provide inspirational videos and lifestyle vlogs for her followers who want to know more about her outside of Instagram. So far, she has created videos giving tips on how to get your optometry degree in three years, natural hair tutorials and her adventure climbing Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica, among others.

Though she is thrilled to be exploring new territory with the YouTube Channel, she has found it harder to create and post content for the channel only because it takes more time. “I created [Beauty and Brains TV] during the summer of 2018 after so many of my followers were asking me to start a YouTube channel, and honestly, it’s very hard,” Pressley explained.

“YouTube is another level of social media that takes more time to create content than Instagram. Being a full-time student, I try to manage my time wisely. Creating content for Instagram takes less time than YouTube, therefore I focus more on the former. I’m still trying to find my niche in the YouTube community, but once I do, I’ll be more inclined to create videos for my channel.”

Though she is still going through the motions and learning through the ups and downs of both platforms, Pressley remains dedicated to creating a strong social media presence because she understands its value. She said, “Social media has become ‘mainstream’ for many young adults. There’s a huge potential audience and everyone has a platform. You get real-time feedback from your followers and it starts a conversation, allowing for a deeper level of engagement.”

She also sees the importance of being a shining example to young women who look like her but may not have the courage or encouragement to pursue their optometry dreams. “The most rewarding aspect is the young girl who messages me typing just three words, ‘You inspire me.’ I didn’t have the privilege of seeing someone who looked like me, doing what I wanted to do. The rewarding part is showing so many people of color that you can do it and there’s a place in this industry for you.”