Danielle Ringle, BS, Class of 2018

Who at WesternU has made you feel supported and how?

The faculty is the reason for such a solid foundation at WesternU. They lead by example and are constantly motivating you to strive for greatness. Their doors are always open to listen and give advise.

Cristina Acevedo, BS, Class of 2019

Describe your best clinical experience and why it was memorable. My best clinical experience so far was when I was interning for a neuro-rehab optometric clinic. I discovered another niche in the optometry field, distinct from the famous phrase “which is better: 1 or 2”. I realized the importance vision has on sensory, motor, cognitive, and behavioral processing which then impacts functional performances in TBI or stroke patients. More specifically, I was inspired by observing the optometrist work with a patient who had suffered from a stroke a few years prior. The aftermath of the stroke led the patient to walk with a lean to his right side, causing him to bump into things. As soon as the doctor placed yoked prisms on the patient, the patient stood up straight and walked without a lean and with more confidence. Every day in clinic was an “aha” moment, every patient received individualized treatment to reach the highest level of functionality. Every day was a reminder that I chose optometry to help others improve their overall quality of life.

Brandon Anthony Betts, BS, Class of 2019

Describe an engaging aspect of your program and why you like it. Early on in your first year, you get to participate in city-wide vision screenings at local elementary schools. To be engaged in the community that early and to learn and practice certain skills was a very fun experience. It’s one thing to learn material in the classroom, but to then to put that into action, made all the difference.

Joshua Clark Dalley, Class of 2019

Who at WesternU has made you feel supported and how? The instructors and administrators have made a significant impact in helping me feel confident as an optometry student. As time goes on my classmates feel more and more like family.

How have you seen the University’s humanistic philosophy lived out by members of the WesternU family? There are many educational institutions that focus purely on the material needed to pass national examinations. I’m grateful that WesternU has made an effort to teach us how to care about being compassionate physicians who care about the whole patient.

David Hernandez, BA, Class of 2019

What would you tell a prospective student about WesternU? “I would tell a prospective student that WesternU was a perfect fit for me and could be a perfect fit for you too. The faculty is very accommodating and truly cares for its students, the students are exceptionally helpful and encouraging, and the array of co-curricular activities opens your mind to new possibilities within your future profession. Personally, I have learned it is up to the student to be involved with faculty, peers, and co-curricular activities to gain the greatest overall experience during their short time at WesternU. ”

Elizabeth Hoppe, OD, MPH, DrPH

Founding Dean, Professor of Optometry

Elizabeth Hoppe  8x10

A word on the College of Optometry: We are looking for exceptional people who will be humanistic leaders in the profession of optometry. If you are excited about trying something new and innovative, if you want to learn side-by-side with other health professionals, if you have an interest in optometric rehabilitation, and if you want to work hard, this is the place for you!

On interprofessional education: We expect our graduates to be comfortable communicating with all kinds of other health professionals to maximize their patients’ health. In today’s complex health care system, our graduates will be able to serve as advocates for their patients and help to coordinate their care across disciplines. They will have an appreciation and understanding of the value that all members of the health care team can bring.

Read a Message from the Dean…

Read more about Dr. Hoppe…

Raymond Maeda, OD, FAAO

Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs, Associate Professor

Why WesternU: I chose to come to WesternU due to the vision that was developed for the program. I met with the college administration and this reinforced my decision to pursue a position at WesternU. I feel very fortunate that they asked me to be a part of their team and to help develop the program.

Best Advice: I would advise that you gather information regarding the curriculum of all the schools and colleges you are interested in and assess their strengths and weaknesses. I strongly feel that WesternU is a program that many students will be attracted to due to the opportunities to interact with other health professionals during their didactic/clinical experiences and the fact that they will be utilizing their clinical abilities almost from day one.

On Interprofessional education: I definitely feel that the Interprofessional curriculum will greatly enhance the student’s learning experience and better prepare them for a career in the health field. Optometrists are a significant part of the healthcare team and with that comes more responsibility to treat / manage not just patient's ocular health but also their systemic health. The resources WesternU will provide to their students will ensure that the student will be well-prepared for a successful career in Optometry.

Kristy Remick-Waltman, O.D., F.C.O.V.D.

Director of Community Outreach, Associate Professor

Why WesternU: I learned much from my professors in Optometry school, especially those who had been in private practice for over 20 years with the experience to run and manage a private practice. Now I have the chance to give back and offer students my wealth of practical clinical knowledge. My unique practice experiences have included multi-disciplinary clinics with physicians, psychologists, educators, physical, speech, and occupational rehabilitation therapists. I have always felt that optometry has much to offer and needs to be included in the multi-disciplinary team. The mission statement of the Optometry College at WesternU emphasizes our commitment to neuro-optometric rehabilitation. I am truly excited to be a member of the faculty.

What Would You Tell Prospective Students Considering WesternU? WesternU College of Optometry will provide a unique and practical optometric education that will lead to a rewarding career in the great profession of optometry. The Optometry College has an enthusiastic and knowledgeable faculty dedicated to assisting each student to achieve their academic and clinical potential. I am a native Southern Californian. Southern California provides numerous facilities, resources, great weather, and fun adventures for students; it is a great place to live!

Naida Jakirlic, OD, BS

Assistant Professor

What would you tell a prospective student who’s considering becoming a student at WesternU? To the prospective student I would say that any accredited program will prepare you for patient care; however, being a WesternU student will prepare you to be the most dedicated and humanistic healthcare provider you can possibly be, and it will establish and cultivate lifelong relationships, both professional and personal, that you will always cherish.

Munish Sharma, MD OD FAAO

Assistant Professor

How do you think the interprofessional education (IPE) curriculum will enhance student’s professional lives? With the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, patient centered, value based health care is now replacing volume-based care as we move towards a pay-for-performance structure. In addition, CMS is encouraging creation of inter professional care teams. The best approach is to start building these relations early in professional education. WesternU provides unique prospective with introduction to inter professional education early on and continues to enhance it during clinical years. Our students not only get to collaborate with different specialists within WesternU but also work with professionals outside like Retina Specialists from the largest retina practice in southern California.

Read more about me…

Matthew Diggory, Class of 2016

Why WesternU? I chose WesternU because I love the fact that we have interactions with actual patients just a month into the program. I didn’t think that I would be ready in just a month, but with practice and the encouragement of the faculty, it was an exciting and fulfilling experience. Another reason why I chose WesternU was because of its reputation as a university that prepares its students to be caring, humanistic, and intelligent practitioners in their respective fields.

First impressions of WesternU: It can be extremely daunting to show up to a new place, not knowing the faculty, staff, and students, and begin a new journey. But even at the first day of orientation, I felt a camaraderie in the college. From that first day, I knew that I made the right decision to be part of WesternU.

What inspires you? Even though I wasn’t always sure what health field I wanted to get into, I always knew that I wanted to be involved with helping people when they need it the most. Health care is more than just treating an illness; it’s about treating a human being. This human to human connection is what inspires me to become the best health care practitioner that I can be.

Amanda Jane Setto, Class of 2016

How have you seen the University’s humanistic philosophy lived out by members of the WesternU family? I have witnessed how humanistic the students at WesternU are even before I started my education there. I was originally accepted into the WesternU College of Optometry Class of 2015 but shortly after my receiving my acceptance letter, I became very ill and required a liver transplant due to a rare autoimmune condition. Needless to say, I had to defer my acceptance for a year so that I could fully recover from my transplant. Even though I was now part of the Class of 2016, the Class of 2015 didn’t forget about me. They generously raised money for me and signed a WesternU Optometry shirt with their get well wishes. I was floored as to how thoughtful and caring they were even though, at the time, I didn’t know the majority of them.

How did your involvement in co-curricular activities (e.g. clubs or student government) influence your personal life? When I was in high school and college, I never took on any leadership positions and rarely participated in co-curricular activities. However, seeing as though WesternU College of Optomery was a relatively new program on campus, I wanted to make my mark. I started out in student government, moved on to being a student liaison and then decided to start and lead two optometry clubs. Being in leadership positions allowed me to think like a leader and learn to balance academics with my clubs’ activities. It was easier for me to network with optometrists since my leadership positions taught me to be confident in myself. When it came time to graduate, I knew that I had made a difference on campus and I definitely noticed a difference in myself.

Katherine Gillett, Class of 2013

What would you tell a prospective student about WesternU? If you are considering to continue your education at WesternU, go on an interview, visit the campus and you will feel the connection the school has to education, the community and the students. It is a place that will support you during your time there and after.

What one or two elements of your education proved to be the most valuable to you in your career? Educational Collaboration: Higher education is full of academic competition. WesternU had introduced me to the concept of collaborating with my classmates. I quickly learned that working with my peers, and not competing against them, helped me become more successful in the classroom. This concept is more relevant in my career today than I ever imagined. Because of my experience at WesternU, I am able to use my collaborative skills with different healthcare providers; not only strengthening my knowledge, but allowing more comprehensive/quality care for my patients.
Describe your best clinical experience and why it was memorable. My clinical experience was full of providing vision to low income families that never had access to medical care. Not only was it touching to see children discover the detail of leaves on the trees or to see words in a book; the gratitude and appreciation their mothers/fathers had really hit home for me. After my clinical experience at WesternU, I became 100% confident that I am in the field I am meant to serve in.