Opticianry Students




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Lisa Cudmore

Erie Community College
Buffalo, N.Y.

After spending many years in the hospitality industry, Lisa Cudmore decided it was time for a change. A friend who is an optometrist encouraged her to interview to get into the program, which was full at the time. Opticianry was, “a totally different language to me. I had no background in this whatsoever!” she told VM.

Cudmore enjoyed her studies and her internship at Town Park Optical. She also participated in “Friends of the Night,” which helped the homeless get eye exams and free lenses and frames.

Looking ahead, Cudmore would love to have her own business, since “the business end and marketing come naturally to me.” If she were to relocate, she would consider becoming a sales rep for a frame or lens company.

HER SCHOOL SAYS…"Lisa's professional approach is caring and dynamic."

Andrea Edwards
J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
Richmond, Va.

Andrea Edwards discovered opticianry while looking at the school’s website researching nursing classes. Even though she had never had an eye exam, she found that opticianry appealed to both her sense of fashion and her aptitude for math.

Edwards mastered multitasking at school—studying, raising a two-year-old daughter, working full time, volunteering to tutor fellow students, and interning at a LensCrafters. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the sorority Zeta Phi Beta.

She would like to be a manager one day, and is interested in pursuing a career as an ophthalmic technician—not bad for someone who never had an eye exam before her studies. “I like to dive in and learn. I would like to work hands-on with people, performing ophthalmic tests for patients with cataracts and glaucoma.”

HER SCHOOL SAYS…"Andrea is a shining example of what can happen when determination and passion collide. Andrea was a single mom, working a full-time job, going to school full time—and beating the odds. She could have quit so many times, but recently she was offered a position at a private practice.”

Jenni Evans
Indiana University School of Optometry’s Optician/Technician Program
Bloomington, Ind.

After spending almost two decades as a flight attendant, and then running exercise studios for women, Jenni Evans decided to get into another field that would allow her to work with a diversity of customers. She was also encouraged by a friend, who happened to be the director of an opticianry program.

While attending classes, Evans also worked at the school’s Atwater Eye Clinic, which allowed her to spend time with patients as well as her fellow students. “What we do is an easy fix that can change the lives of many people very quickly,” she noted.

Having lived in London for 17 years, where she met many Caribbean ex-pats, she would like to go on humanitarian optical missions to the West Indies in the future.

HER SCHOOL SAYS…"Jenni was awarded ‘Technician of the Year’ by the Optician/Technician faculty, staff, and her fellow students. She was a positive role model for the entire class throughout her two years in the program, exhibiting professionalism, integrity, a positive attitude and great patient rapport.

Masayo Hashimoto
New York City College of Technology
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Masayo Hashimoto earned her B.A. in government from Skidmore College and after working 70 to 80 hours a week as a paralegal, she decided that is was time for a career change. Her mother is an optician and co-owns an optical store in New Jersey. “My mom was trying to get me into the business for a long time,” she said. “I was hesitant about returning to school, however, I felt it was now or never.”

After graduating and obtaining her optician’s license, her goal is to open her own business. “I love meeting and talking with people—I love the idea of helping someone pick out the perfect pair of eyeglasses. By doing this, I feel like I can help people look and feel better about themselves.”

HER SCHOOL SAYS…“We have always been impressed with Masayo’s desire to learn and her commitment to her education. Whatever Masayo undertakes, she does so with enthusiasm and high motivation.”

Lauren Lessley
Seattle Central Community College School of Opticianry
Seattle, Wash.

Lauren Lessley always knew she wanted to be in vision care after finishing high school. She enjoyed the school’s opticianry program, saying “I owe my professors all my success.”

She was president of the school’s Scholastic Optician’s Society, and joined the OAA, the Optician’s Association of Washington, VOSH Northwest Chapter. Lessley was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and participated in “Project Homeless Connect” in Tacoma. Her first humanitarian mission to Jamaica will be in October.

Lessley is ambitious: She is working on a bachelors of biology at Bellevue College and hopes to transfer to Ohio State or UC Berkeley, and then attend either school’s optometry program. She would also like to become a Licensed Dispensing Optician.

HER SCHOOL SAYS…“Lauren stepped up to be class co-president in the first quarter she started school. Outside the classroom, she never says no when asked to work with fund-raising activities for our student club, which helps fund local state convention trips each year.”

Sharyn McCann
Middlesex Community College
Middletown, Conn.

After spending years working in accounting at a desk jobs in medical offices, Sharyn McCann wanted more hands-on experience and more one-on-one interaction with people.

McCann worked part time at an optical while going to school, but still found time to be the lab manager of the schools student-run clinic. She won the school’s academic award, and worked on community health projects in Hartford and performed vision screenings in Middletown. She has been involved in the Connecticut Opticians Association, and a variety of other professional groups.

“I had an eye problem of my own. People take vision for granted,” she noted, and wants to get more involved in helping the community. Looking toward the future, McCann said she is “still getting her feet wet and exploring it all.”

HER SCHOOL SAYS…"Sharyn is involved in many aspects of the optical industry. She is nationally certified by the ABO and NCLE. She is also a member of the OAA, NAO and CLSA.”

Tiffany McDaniel
Roane State Community College
Harriman, Tenn.

Tiffany McDaniel got into opticianry after hearing the school’s opticianry program director discuss the profession at an orientation. “I wasn’t sure if I made the right choice, until the first day at school—then it just clicked for me. Opticianry offers many options—I can have it all”

While at school, her classmates nominated her Outstanding Opticianry Student of the Year, and she worked with a Remote Area Medical, a nonprofit group that helps provide dental and optical services for the needy.

“Getting in there and finishing a product is something I really enjoy,” she said. Eventually, McDaniel would like to be a manager. “Right now I am just learning a lot about the field. I’m very appreciative to have a foot in the door.

HER SCHOOL SAYS…“Tiffany won our ‘Opticianry Student of the Year’ award. She also won a CLSA scholarship to attend the CLSA convention in Austin, Texas. She submitted a project for the Hoya Vision Care scholarship program, and she will represent Roane State in the Essilor/NFOS College Bowl competition in Cincinnati this September.”

Kathryn Plante
Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology
Boston, Mass.

Kathryn Plante “grew up in the profession”—her parents are opticians and she worked in their store. She opted for an accelerated one-year opticianry program while also taking the ophthalmic assisting program at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

At Ben Franklin, she was class secretary, assisted teachers, and worked in the school’s optical shop. She received the George Borque scholarship, and recently passed her ABO and NCLE exams. She is also involved with the Contact Lens Society of America (CLSA).

Today, Plante is still involved with the opticianry program—she helped with the school’s recent makeover of its optical shop, and helps current students in the optical skills lab. Eventually, she would like to design frames. “I would love to design frames for a high-end name brand, and maybe even have my own line one day.”

HER SCHOOL SAYS…"Kathryn is an effective and influential person who cares about others, and can help them to achieve things that they didn't ever think were possible. Her compassionate and unselfish demeanor brings out the best in all those around her.”

Kelli Sanders
Ogeechee Technical College
Statesboro, Ga.

After changing her major several times, Kelli Sanders found her niche in opticianry. A nine-month internship at a small private doctor’s office, allowed her to do a bit of everything. She was also in the National Honor Society for technical schools

Sanders landed a full-time job before graduating, and enjoys working in the lab as much as she likes being on the sales floor. “I enjoy what I am doing now,” she tells VM, “and I would like to learn more about management, and even learning about insurance would be a big help—since there are so many different kinds. Insurance is always changing—it’s good to be ahead and be as familiar as you can with it.”

HER SCHOOL SAYS…"We had several top students this year but Kelli stood out—she is highly motivated and excelled in the classroom and at job sites. She was ambitious and achieved her goal to pass her ABO and NCLE exams on the first try.”

Lydia Wang-DeJesus
Hillsborough Community College
Tampa, Fla.

After working in marketing, Lydia Wang-DeJesus, was looking to get into health services, and opticianry’s combination of health service and fashion appealed to her. She started the program on campus her first year, and completed it as a distance-learning student when her family had to move.

Her teachers encouraged her to apply for all available scholarships, many of which she received. She observed, “Many students don’t bother to apply.” She gained hands-on experience with the school’s vision screening program at a nearby housing project. She took advantage of free student memberships in the Professional Opticians of Florida, the National Academy of Opticianry (NAO), the Contact Lens Society of America (CLSA), and the Opticians Association of America (OAA).

Wang-DeJesus is fluent in Mandarin and “would love to work in China, after I have been in the industry a while and my kids graduate high school.”

HER SCHOOL SAYS…"Lydia was our representative at the NFOS College Bowl in Cincinnati last September. Lydia earned a student scholarship to the Contact Lens Society of America meeting in Texas, and was recently notified that she is a winner of a Transitions Optical Healthy Sight scholarship.”