Sydney Madrigal Is Representing Her Fellow Latinxs

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Sydney Madrigal is a third-year student pursuing her Master’s degree in Public Health as well as her doctorate in optometry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Though she spent most of her life in South Florida, Madrigal is of Cuban decent and has created Latina Optometrist, a light-hearted and inspirational page that gives a voice to one of the minority groups in the optical industry. “Upon starting school in Birmingham, I knew I would be a minority in my class, but over time I realized I was also a minority in the field,” Madrigal explained. “My parents didn’t know much about applying to optometry school, I was pretty much on my own; this is what made me really start to think about the potential impact I could make.”

Madrigal knew since she was in the third grade that optometry was her calling. Though she second guessed her decision while pursing her undergraduate degree, she made her way back to optometry after having shadowed an optometrist at the University of Florida, who worked closely with ophthalmologists to coordinate care of patients.

In February of last year, Madrigal decided to create Latina Optometrist. While she didn’t have a particular audience in mind, she garnered a lot of support from the community as she was the only voice representing the Latinx community. “I was inspired by GlamOptometrist (which I haven’t told anyone). She came to our school’s private practice meeting and I thought to myself, ‘Wow, this sounds really simple,’” she told VMail Weekend. “As I began to post I realized that no one else was representing Latinxs in the optometric social media world. I was the only voice and people were cheering me on.”

In the year Latina Optometrist has been up, the page has garnered 1,454 followers and counting. Madrigal mostly uses her voice to chronicle her life in optometry school as well as uplift and highlight women who are making a difference within the industry and their communities. Each Wednesday, she uses her own version of #WomanCrushWednesday and puts up a #WomenInEyecareWednesday post which showcases a female practitioner and what they have accomplished. “There are very powerful women in the industry, and I wanted to highlight that on my page. I strongly believe in women uplifting other women; I see that at every conference I go to and it makes me proud of the profession I chose,” she said.

While Madrigal enjoys the ease and flexibility Instagram allows, she finds constantly updating her page to be a bit of a challenge, especially since she is in pursuit of a dual degree. She said, “I just recently took a small hiatus due to this little thing called boards! Now that I am slowly adjusting to having my life back I will be posting more regularly.” She continued, “Other than boards the biggest challenge yet has been balancing time on social media with studying, working, exercise and down time.”

In spite of the challenges of balancing it all, Madrigal has still managed to make connections through Latina Optometrist. Some industry influencers such as ODs Amanda Rights (Optomeyeslife), Erika Mabus (Organic Optometrist) and Danielle Richardson (Fierce Clarity) all follow her page. “I have been able to meet such unique people in the industry and overall, what has stuck with me the most is staying true to who you are. You can make this profession yours, that’s exactly what these practicing ODs do every day,” she said.

  

Though she already has her plate full, this future doctor does not plan on slowing down. With some externships planned in the near future, Madrigal hopes to continue inspiring and being an example to people of Latinx heritage who may want to pursue optometry. “For patients, I am one of the few bilingual speakers in the clinic that can make them feel at home; someone who finally understands. For parents of patients, I am a symbol that their son or daughter could achieve their dreams. Because of all that I have been through, my goal is to be able to start a mentoring- scholarship program for minorities applying to optometry school.”