Name: Carlie Stalker 2026 Student Visionary Spotlight

Class Year: 2026

List the award(s) / scholarship(s) you have received
Dr Sanford and Claire Levy Scholarship

What does receiving this award or scholarship mean to you?
Receiving this scholarship is truly an honor and I am extremely grateful to the donors of the Central New York Community Foundation. This not only will be extremely helpful in my journey to becoming an OD, but it motivates me even further to work hard to become the best doctor I can possibly be.

What drew you to the field of optometry?
I have always been interested in medicine in general having grown up in a family full of doctors and enjoying biology going through school growing up. In regard to optometry, I found myself extremely drawn toward learning neurology and learning about the sensory systems of the human body while completing my undergraduate studies. In addition, I have been seeing an optometrist since I was around 12 years old and was always interested in learning about my own ocular conditions. All of this combined made optometry a perfect fit for my future career.

What are your plans following graduation?
As a first year, I don't know what my plans are as of yet. However, I have always enjoyed pediatrics and am interested in looking into a residency in that specialty.

What advice would you give incoming or prospective optometry students?
Don't be afraid to give yourself some downtime! This applies to both undergrad as well as optometry school. As important as it is to stay on top of your classes and work hard and efficiently, burnout is a real thing. Find something you can do away from schoolwork to give yourself a break. For me, it's as simple as going to a dance class once a week, but it can be anything as long as it makes you happy.