Tareq Nabhan first discovered optometry as a young patient. “My contact lenses gave me more confidence in sports. It got me thinking about what an OD can do.” While still experiencing some struggles with vision in high school, his neighbor (also an OD) said, “You know, you’re not going to go blind.” For Tareq, it was a revelation! “No one had told me that before. I wanted to be able to help people like that.”
After receiving an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Pittsburg State University, Tareq spent two years in the graduate program at the University of Kansas studying Chemical Education. He interviewed at a few optometry schools, but he had the most welcoming encounters right here at UMSL. “It reminded me of my undergraduate and graduate experiences, and the message here was: ‘We want you to do well.’” Tareq enjoyed meeting with the student ambassadors and felt comfortable asking questions about the program. Interviewing with Drs. Vinita Henry and Ed Bennett proved to be memorable as well (as likely many readers would agree). “They could see all of my education on the transcripts. They asked, ‘What are you enjoying in life?’ Such conversations brought Tareq to feel that this would be the best place for him. “I was honest when I told them I didn’t know a lot about optometry, but that I would be able to learn it here.” The fact that Tareq’s brother, would be nearby, working on a master’s degree in political science at Washington University, cemented the future doctor’s decision to come to St. Louis.
Tareq felt supported during optometry school, in everything from intramurals to attending meetings. But the biggest leap came when faculty supported him in securing an externship site overseas. “I studied in Bethlehem and Jerusalem for two months, during which I met my future wife!” Other externship experiences took Tareq to Kansas City, Texas, and Arkansas. After graduation, the now-Dr. Nabhan worked in commercial establishments and private practice, while always keeping an ear out for opportunities at UMSL. Eventually, he came on at the college part-time, precepting at Affinia. That led to assisting in Ophthalmic Optics, APD, and Clinical Optometry labs.
Since being hired full-time as assistant clinical professor in August 2019, Dr. Nabhan has become a constant, supportive presence at the college. “UMSL serves an instrumental role as an anchor institute to the community. I see great opportunities in supporting this initiative and am working strategically in developing multilateral engagements with cross-domain expertise for research, teaching, and humanitarian enterprises. Additionally, working with the students is another favorite. They are smart, respectful, and eager to learn and contribute.” Learning and growing together with the students has been especially rewarding. Dr. Nabhan and his wife, have two sons, Abraham (3 ½) and Yousef (1 ½). Abraham is particularly delightful when he comes to work with his dad. You may also occasionally catch Dr. Nabhan on the basketball court with students. When asked his favorite intramural sport during school, the answer comes without hesitation. “Flag football.”
The College of Optometry is pleased to welcome Dr. Tareq Nabhan as a full-time faculty member at UMSL!