Student Testimonials

Sonya Malani

Class of 2015

Life as a first year was certainly unforgettable. Just like any other student entering a new school, there were some challenges to overcome, but there were also plenty of enjoyable moments.

I graduated from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ with a major in Biological Sciences and a minor in Psychology. With approximately 30,000 undergraduates, my lecture halls often housed 300 to 400 students at a time. When I started at SUNY College of Optometry in 2011, the biggest change for me was the significantly smaller class size. I was shocked to find that my first-year professors knew my name, let alone knew that I even grew up in New Jersey! However, I found that I really enjoyed being part of a smaller class and the sense of community that came with it.

Another big change I faced as a first-year was the curriculum. The material itself wasn’t very difficult to understand, but the sheer volume of information was overwhelming at first. I also had to spend long hours at school practicing for upcoming assessments and practical exams. My time management skills that I learned in high school and college were put to good use once again. I soon realized, though, that it was easier to connect concepts together between my classes because they all related back to the eye and the visual system. This, combined with the hands-on experience provided by our professors, made for a much richer learning environment.

Aside from the new changes, there were some similarities to my undergraduate college that I also noticed. The diversity of students with all types of race, gender, creed, etc. was very much like that of Rutgers. Similarly, the opportunities to get involved with community service, student organizations, and university events were numerous as well. I especially loved our Talent Show and the opportunity to lobby for our profession in Washington, DC with the American Optometric Association.

Of course, my experience at SUNY-O wouldn’t be complete without taking advantage of the many things New York City has to offer. When the weather is nice, students often eat their lunch outside in Bryant Park across the street. In the winter time, the park becomes an ice skating rink surrounded by pop-up shops selling home goods, jewelry, sweet treats and much more. After a long day of school, many of us venture out into the city to try new cuisines, grab a few drinks at a local happy hour, or even go for a run along the East River. The things to do in New York City are simply endless.

As I look back at first year, I remember that there were definitely some stressful times, but there were so many fun ones too. My advice to current first years is to do the best you can and never doubt yourself or your abilities because you got this far for a reason. Don’t let New York City’s fast paced lifestyle pass you by, and enjoy every moment you can, because before you know it there won't be a Mr., Mrs., or Miss. in front of your name anymore. It will be replaced by Dr.

Linda Zhao

Class of 2014

After living most of my life in California and just graduating from UC San Diego, coming to New York City and SUNY Optometry was an entirely new experience for me. I found out about SUNY Optometry from my pre-optometry friends and classmates in the pre-opt club at school. I knew to expect a rigorous but rewarding program, both in terms of the academics as well as the clinical preparation. One year through, I found this to be true and so much more. I found the people—the professors, staff and upperclassmen—to be friendly and helpful.

We stepped into clinic for observations in the very first week. Back then, I knew very little about the procedures performed by the intern. One year through, I can now do many of those same procedures myself. I loved being able to apply what I learned in lecture to actual clinical practice, even if it was mostly practicing on my classmates for now. We even had many opportunities to use what we learned to give back to the community, such as providing vision screenings at the local homeless shelter, at schools and at the Special Olympics. This made the intense studying even more worthwhile, knowing that we can already make a difference in the lives of other people.

While school was intense, I enjoyed exploring the city with my classmates and getting involved in extracurricular in our free time. We attended many free concerts in the city, tried different restaurants, watched Broadway shows, ice-skated at Bryant Park and checked out the holiday decorations, among many other things to do in NYC. There was still time to participate in class council, have a part-time job, and check out special optometry-related events, such as the Vision Expo.

What I like most about the program at SUNY is that it prepares me well for the profession of optometry, while the city itself provides opportunities to unwind and try something new everyday. It took some time to adjust to life across the country, but soon SUNY became a second home to me and the people here like a family.

Allison Coffie

Class of 2014

Being an economics major from UCI in California, I did not always know that I wanted to become an optometrist.  As soon as I decided to pursue the profession of optometry, I kept hearing wonderful things about the program at SUNY Optometry.  Those who I spoke to commented that although the program is difficult, the experience would be well worth it and I would be a better optometrist because of it.  After attending SUNY Optometry for one year, I have to agree!

SUNY Optometry provides its students with an unrivaled clinical experience.  Firstly, students enter the clinic from day one. Students begin by observing during appointments, and by the end of their second year are conducting entire eye exams on patients! Secondly, the school being located in New York City has the advantage of a very diverse patient population. Certain eye conditions have higher prevalence rates in certain populations, so a student as SUNY will see almost every type of condition before graduating!

Living in New York City is developing me into a more well-rounded person.  I am constantly meeting people of different cultures, backgrounds and religions.  In addition, there are a ton of new restaurants and cultural events to experience such as theaters, concerts, festivals, etc.