Meet our ambassadors.  Our ambassadors are what make UMSL Optometry what we are.  They are the faces of UMSL.

AlicWEBSalmedina Alic

Major:  Biology
Hometown: Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because when I met the ambassadors during UMSL day they were so happy to represent the school and showed great interest and knowledge in optometry. I knew that UMSL was the best choice for me.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Not to focus on one particular thing. It’s important to be well rounded. Procrastination will only hurt them in the end, so it’s best to start studying for the OAT on time as well as the application.

AndersonWEBMeagan Anderson

Major:  Biology
Hometown: Omaha, NE
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because of the atmosphere. It’s a great environment because all of the students and teachers are all rooting for each other to succeed.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Choose a school that makes you feel comfortable right when you walk through the door.

 

ArmstrongLuke Armstrong

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Altamont, IL
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because the faculty and staff really care about their students.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Your decision of what optometry school to attend will be one of the most exciting decisions of your life. Over the next four years you will learn more than you ever thought possible, make friends and memories that will last you a lifetime, and most importantly prepare for a rewarding career and lifestyle in the field of optometry. So weigh all of your options, but don’t stress about it. Choose the optometry school that is the best fit for you and hang on because the next four years are gonna fly by.

 

ArnoldyJessica Arnoldy

Major: Biology and Biochemistry
Hometown: Downs, Kansas
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because of the welcoming family atmosphere.

What advice would you share with potential students?
I would advise them to really try and get a feel for the school during their visit. The best way for them to be successful is to feel safe and comfortable at the school they choose.

 

AvilezWEBAnnie Avilez

Major:  Biology
Hometown: Mountain Home, AR
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because I believe that every person I met while on campus wanted me to achieve my goal of becoming at optometrist and because it was a place in which I could envision myself thriving. I aspire to be challenged and I know that the intense curriculum will quench that aspiration. I look forward to attending a university that will equip me with the skills I will use for the rest of my professional life.

What advice would you share with potential students?
While the process of taking the OAT, filling out the application, and interviews can be daunting (it definitely was for me) it is a challenge that should be readily welcomed. Life will always have challenges, so embrace it! Let these challenges mold you to become a stronger person. The feeling of accomplishment afterwords far outweighs the feeling of dread beforehand. Best of luck!

 

BaldwinDavid Baldwin

Major:  Biology
Hometown: Sedalia, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
Location and friendly faculty and students

What advice would you share with potential students? Work hard

 

BergieWEBJen Bergie

Major: Biomedical Science
Hometown: Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
The small class size and the family aspect was appealed to me as a student who will be living a long ways away from home to attend school.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Keep pursuing your goals no matter what obstacles you face.

 

BuddeWEBLizzie Budde

Major:  Biology and Physics
Hometown:  St. Louis, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because of the small class size and dedication to quality eye care!

What advice would you share with potential students?
Go somewhere that you feel will challenge you and has what you are looking for in a school!

 

CarnahanWEBKyle Carnahan

Major:  Biology
Hometown: Marshalltown, Iowa
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because of the size and family atmosphere that I felt as soon as I got on campus.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Visit at least a few different schools so that you can compare the differences/similarities and help figure out which school is going to be the best fit for you personally.

 

CaryWEBBrad Cary

Major: Nursing
Hometown:  Omaha, NE
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because the family like atmosphere created by the faculty, staff and the student ambassadors. During my interview day I really enjoyed meeting and speaking with the student ambassadors. It was through these interactions that I knew I was at the right school.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Be yourself and relax! Don’t be afraid to ask questions throughout the process. Chances are, you are not the only one with that question!

 

ChangNatasha Chang

Major: Human Physiology
Hometown:  Fairfield, IA
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because the faculty, staff, and student ambassadors made my interview day a genuinely enjoyable experience.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Each optometry school will deliver quality education and clinical experience, so look out for 1) which school can you see yourself feeling most comfortable and included in the student community, and 2) which schools provide resources that are particularly helpful for YOU–such as strong student collaboration, tutor and TA availability, recorded lectures, etc.

 

DaackWEBCalvin Daack

Major: Neuroscience
Hometown: Dubuque, Iowa
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
We treat each other like family.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Look at many different programs: big, small, private, public, research-emphasized, multidisciplinary, etc.

 

DavisSydni Davis

Major:  Biology
Hometown: St. Charles, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
UMSL is close to home, and you can’t ask for better people than you find at UMSL. There is always innovation happening here, endless resources, and we are challenged daily to be our best selves. I knew from being here for undergrad that UMSL would be a great home for me for optometry school.

What advice would you share with potential students?
I would become familiar with the school and area to assess whether it feels like “home” to you. You should be able to assess whether or not you fit at this school. We have great things to offer, and you will get an amazing education here, but it is up to you to decide where you want to spend your 4 years of optometry school. At UMSL you will get a great education, endless opportunities, a fun city to live in, and a forever family. If that sounds like what you want, then I hope you’ll join us! Make sure you are ready for the challenge because it is not easy to become an eye doctor, but if you have the passion for it, you will do well!

 

DeanWEBKevin Dean

Major:  Biology
Hometown: Louisville, KY
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I felt comfortable from the second I met Dr. Bennett and Nick. It felt like I was with family or close friends and that’s the type of environment that is conducive to success. The optometry program is everything I was looking for, small class sizes. On top of that I really love the city. So for me, it was a no brainer and I knew it was where I wanted to go as soon as I finished my interview day.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Know yourself and what you’re looking for in a school before you attend.  What kind of learner are you? What kind of optometrist do you want to be? Who do you want your colleagues to be? These are people you will be spending the next four years with and you should be able to trust and enjoy these people. You should ask about the classes– class sizes, instructors,  lab structure? How many students end up finishing the program in four years with regards to the number that originally matriculated? These details are important. WRITE THE ANSWERS DOWN. These are all key parts of making the decision.

Be yourself. You want a school who likes who YOU are, not who you appear to be. Obviously we all put on a professional facade during these times (for a good reason) but it’s hard to get a complete read on anything with your guard all the way up.

 

DermodyWEBLauren Dermody

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Swansea, IL
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because of the location and friendly atmosphere.

What advice would you share with potential students?
I would apply early!! The more prepared you are, the earlier you can apply, and the more options you have for school!

 

DowdyGeorge Dowdy

Major:  Biology
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
UMSL allowed me to commute from home.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Take all advice with a grain of salt. Everyone learns differently so if someone says one class is harder than another, that is how the class was for them with the way they study.

 

FehlhaferWEBMarisa Fehlhafer

Major: Human Physiology
Hometown:  Cedar Rapids, IA
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because they made me feel like family and I felt at home. 🙂

What advice would you share with potential students?
Apply to schools as soon as possible and take your time making your decision on which school to attend! I would also suggest getting a job as a technician or optician or at least shadow multiple doctors so you get a better idea as to what optometrists do day in and day out.

 

FermilWEBNewLullete Fermil

Major: Philosophy
Hometown: Quezon City, Philippines
Graduating Class: Class of 2019

Why did you choose UMSL?
I choose UMSL because of the small class size, the awesome student ambassadors, the location in the great city of St. Louis, and the way I felt welcomed during my interview.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Be a well-rounded student. Being good in academics is great but being personable and a team player is important as well. Learn how to manage your time wisely.

 

FloodWEBKatelyn Flood

Major:  Biology
Hometown: Pittsburg, KS
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because it felt like a place I could call home! I met such passionate and caring people at my interview day that I knew UMSL was the place for me.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Whatever you are passionate about–whether that be mission work, a particular situation that drew you to optometry, or something extracurricular that you have been actively involved in–make it stand out in your application! It makes the interview go so much more smoothly when they ask you about the things that you are most interested in!

 

GallenQuinn Gallen

Major:  Biology

Hometown:  St. Louis, MO

Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
Loved the family feel from the ambassadors.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Apply early into the cycle, and be yourself in the interview.

 

HammWEBKate Hamm

Major: Physical Science with minors in physics and biology
Hometown:  Olathe, KS but also kind of Wichtia, KS and Springfield, MO cause that is where my families are now!
Graduating Class: Class of 2019

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL becuase of the family feel and the dedication to student success. No where else compared to the dedication to making every student feel valued as an individual and as apart of their class.

What advice would you share with potential students?
I would remember to be yourself during your interview and to interact act with everyone genuinely. You will only find the right place for you if you are yourself! Plus, it is a lot easier than trying to act like someone else!

 

HaugenWEBConnor Haugen

Major:  Biology
Hometown: Fort Collins, CO
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because of the tightly knit classes and caring faculty.

What advice would you share with potential students?
I would suggest that prospective students and applicants be timely–getting all of the prerequisites done, the OAT taken, and the application in early can be a huge difference maker in being accepted.

 

HaysWEBCarli Hays

Major: Exercise and movement science
Hometown: Kirksville, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because of the family vibe I got from the ambassadors when I visited the school and when I interviewed. I felt very welcome and that I would fit in well at the school.

What advice would you share with potential students?
I would tell the prospective student or applicant to not be nervous and just be yourself!

 

HinderksJackie Hinderks

Major:  Biology
Hometown: Bloomington, Illinois
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because of the welcoming family like atmosphere.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Give yourself lots of options and really take the time to decide not just what school has a great curriculum but where you can see yourself being happy for four years.

 

HoltzmanWEBNick Holtzman

Major:  Exercise Science
Hometown: Danvers, IL
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I immediately felt welcomed to the campus as if I was meant to be there. There was sense of camaraderie between the students and faculty and, a culture that I didn’t notice at other schools a culture of, students first. Whereas other universities it felt like, school first, students second.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Shadow an optometrist as much as possible. Get a job at an optometrist’s office if you can. Get an idea of how you want to practice optometry. Although, practicing optometry may seem a long ways off, knowing where you’re going to land up will make the process of getting there easier.

 

HuckWEBMolly Huck

Major:  Biology
Hometown: Ste. Genevieve, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because I loved its small class size and close-knit atmosphere. The sense of community and helpfulness that I saw at UMSL really stood out to me compared to other schools.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Don’t be too nervous for your interview day. Everyone is trying to make you feel welcome and they want you to choose UMSL just as much as you may want to come here. You should definitely prepare for the interview, but it is also very important to not overthink it. The interview is very conversational and the admission committee is trying to get to know you, not just a robot response to a question. It is most important to just be yourself!

 

HuieWEBErin Huie

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  St. Louis, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I loved the people I met, the class sizes and the family-like dynamic.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Have fun on your interview day and enjoy the experience!

 

JacksonWEBHeather Jackson

Major:  Biology
Hometown: Downing, WI
Graduating Class: Class of 2019

Why did you choose UMSL?:
I chose UMSL because I loved the small class size and family feel.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Do your best in school and be yourself at the interview.

 

ShortStevi James

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Farmington, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
On my first visit there for my interview I had the feeling that UMSL was where I belonged. I felt as if I had known the ambassadors and the staff for longer than a few hours and I knew that if I came to UMSL, it would feel like home.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Don’t be intimidated by your classmates. They will know things that you don’t, and they will score higher than you in certain areas, but the roles will be reversed in certain subjects. Just work your hardest for yourself, help out your classmates when they need it, and accept help in return.

 

Kendall

Justin Kendall

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  St. Charles, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because of the awesome student mentors and faculty that helped make my interview day very memorable!

What advice would you share with potential students?
My best advice would to just relax and be yourself on your interview day! This is your time to shine as a prospective student, so relax and make the best of the opportunity!

 

KinderWEBLeslie Kinder

Major: Interdisciplinary Studies in Science (Pre-Optometry)
Hometown: St. Louis, MO and Fort Walton Beach, FL
Graduating Class: Class of 2019

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because of the small class size and family atmosphere.

What advice would you share with potential students?
It’s going to be tough, but you’re going to make it! So, get ready for 4 insane and incredible years. You’re going to cry a little, laugh a lot, and meet some of the best people you will ever know.

 

LakayilJane Lakayil

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Chicago, IL
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL Optometry because it is a close knit community.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Visit a school and interact with its current students before committing to it.

 

MagreWEBHolly Magre

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Festus, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because of the small class sizes and family environment.

What advice would you share with potential students?
My advice would be to get your applications in as early as possible, and be proactive when it comes to choosing your new school.

 

MartinezWEBMatthew Martinez

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Dodge City, KS
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because the welcoming staff and faculty, along with the family-oriented atmosphere and drive for student success, cemented my decision to make UMSL-Optometry the perfect starting point to launch my career as an Optometrist.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Dreams without goals often fuel disappointment. Dreams, on the road to achievement, require discipline and consistency. Know your why, and let this be the fuel that drives you forward towards completing your goals.

 

MatsonWEBKrystal Matson

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Creighton, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
UMSL was the optometry school I felt most at home, likely due to the “family atmosphere” UMSL prides themselves on having.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Embrace your passions and tell us what makes you unique! Don’t think the admissions committee will disregard your interest in music, sports, travel, etc.

 

MayfieldWEBErin Mayfield

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Perryville, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2018

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because I know I will get a great education and will be a qualified optometrist.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Do your research and tour different schools if possible. Don’t freak out during the application process. There’s a lot to it, but just take it a step at a time.

 

MossMadison Moss

Major:  Exercise and Sport Science
Hometown:  Statesville, NC
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because I knew it would be my perfect home away from home.

What advice would you share with potential students? When considering optometry schools, definitely make sure their academics are exemplary, but also ensure that the school is a place where you feel you’ll be supported and encouraged. You can do this if you set your heart and mind to it!!

 

NelsenWEBEmily Nelsen

Major:  Kinesiology
Hometown:  Audubon, Iowa
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
It has a great family feel. Th atmosphere felt right during my interview day.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Really pay attention and ask the right questions on interview days. This helped me a lot when deciding on a school.

 

NguyenMaria Nguyen

Major:  Health Information Management
Hometown:  St. Louis, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?

Nick Palisch / close to home

What advice would you share with potential students?
Get a planner because it will help you manage your time so much better!!!!

 

PaceWEBJeffery Pace

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Brandon, MS
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
It offers a family like environment with small class sizes similar to my high school and strong academic success.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Optometry is a great profession and is well worth the effort it takes to get there. Be sure to shadow doctors and gain experience in the field to be sure it is what you want to do. Once you’ve decided its right for you get a high GPA and high OAT score. Visit multiple optometry schools and when you find the right one you’ll know it. My dad is an optometrist and I thought for years I would go to the same OD school he went to until I visited here at UMSL and changed my mind. So keep an open mind and when it comes to your interview don’t be nervous but be prepared.

 

PeytonErik Peyton

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Lake St. Louis, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
I loved the close-knit family atmosphere.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Work hard and do your best, but save time to hang out with your new classmates. I promise you will make lifelong friends.

 

RothWEBJoe Roth

Major:  Biochemistry/Biotechnology
Hometown:  St. Louis, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL for its small class, family-like environment, and close proximity to where I live.

What advice would you share with potential students?
I would tell applicants to take studying for the OAT seriously and to take their time. Cramming is not the best approach. Take the test seriously, work hard, and you’ll do great!

 

SchieberWEBBrittney Schieber

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Kansas City, MO
Graduating Class: Class of 2019

Why did you choose UMSL?
I loved my interview day!

What advice would you share with potential students?
Enjoy your summer off before starting school (aka don’t stress or try to study before). If you can, try and get a job as a tech – it helps so much in many aspect. Don’t be afraid to email/text/reach out to older students (especially ambassadors)!

 

SimpsonWEBRachel Simpson

Major:  Theatre and Biochemistry
Hometown:  Belleville, IL
Graduating Class: Class of 2019

Why did you choose UMSL?
UMSL has a family feel.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Get a dog. Or any pet, really. They give you something besides school to care about, they make sure you get exercise, and they’re amazing study buddies.

 

Abigail Smith

Major:  Biomedical Sciences
Hometown: Somerville, AL
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because of the sense of belonging I felt when I came for my interview. Everyone I met – the faculty, ambassadors, other students – were so welcoming and seemed genuinely happy to be a part of the UMSL family. I felt confident that I would receive a great education as well as build strong relationships as a student here.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Optometry school is tough, there is no sugar-coating it. It takes a lot of time and discipline, so it would be super helpful to develop good study habits in undergrad to better prepare for the course load during first year! Also, don’t freak out before interviews – just be yourself!

 

SpagnolaLacie Spagnola

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Santa Cruz, CA
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because of all the support I get from the faculty and my fellow students.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Try to be yourself and be engaged in the application and interview process. We want to know who you are.

 

SternHeather Stern

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Grafton, WI
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
I really liked the small class sizes and family feel that UMSL has.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Be engaged in groups on your campus or in your community that you really are passionate about; even if these groups are not necessarily optometry related. This is something that can make you stand out as an individual.

 

SwartzWEBPorter Swartz

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Menomonie, Wisconsin
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
The small class sizes of 40-48 students and the 8:1 student to faculty ratio in which the UMSL College of Optometry offers was of high importance to me in my decision making process. Being a relational person and away from my support system, I felt the faculty and students at the UMSL College of Optometry would quickly fill the void in helping the college feel more like home. When talking to past students, they couldn’t say enough about the outstanding faculty who truly go out of their way for their students to succeed. I also placed great value on the high graduation rate of 95%-98% the UMSL College of Optometry proudly possesses.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Submit your OptomCAS application early in the cycle to the colleges of interest to you. Focus on volunteering within your community whether at home or at college and get involved with your college campus’s pre-health or pre-optometry clubs to make connections within the medical field. Shadow several optometrists in a variety of settings, but it’s important to note the quality of shadowing is much more important than the quantity or the amount of hours you shadow. Practice your interviewing skills until you’re confident with your speaking abilities and body language, but it’s important to always be yourself!

 

VisinWEBJanessa Visin

Major: Human Physiology
Hometown:  Iowa City, IA
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
Meeting with the representatives of the college on the day of my interview made a huge impact on my decision! The relationships between students and faculty members is unlike any other optometry school. Having smaller classes really allows everyone to know each other well.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Have plenty of experience! Know what you are getting into and be aware of the true role optometrists play in health care.

 

Waltz

Aric Waltz

Major:  Biology Health Professions
Hometown:  Spirit Lake, IA
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because of the community that allows you to become close with the faculty, staff and students

What advice would you share with potential students?
Believe in yourself! It can be a little overwhelming applying for and getting ready for optometry school, but just remember that you are doing this for a reason and it is worth it!

 

WeinbergerBecca Weinberger

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Homer Glen, IL
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL because it felt like a home.

What advice would you share with potential students?
My advice would be to enjoy the most of your life and to not stress so much about school that it breaks your motivation.

 

WellsWEBStephen Wells

Major: Exercise Science
Hometown: Kenmore, Washington
Graduating Class: Class of 2021

Why did you choose UMSL?
I chose UMSL first and foremost for the family feel atmosphere. I felt so welcomed by staff and students at my interview and the small class size is very inviting. I also was influenced by the great NEBO pass rates which I believe is very important. Also the cost of living for St. Louis and low tuition was a huge plus.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Make a list of your most important factors in choosing a school and then decide based off of that. It could include NEBO pass rates, location, class size, etc.

 

WoofterGenare Woofter

Major:  Biology
Hometown:  Cimarron, KS
Graduating Class: Class of 2020

Why did you choose UMSL?
The atmosphere at UMSL is extremely welcoming.

What advice would you share with potential students?
Take time away from your studies to relax occasionally.