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Berkeley Optometry has formed the Council for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB). The Council’s Mission Statement is: “To identify and support opportunities to improve diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging within Berkeley Optometry.”

Action Plan Drafted

An Action Plan has been drafted for strategies to advance diversity and reduce structural racism at Berkeley Optometry and Vision Science.
Read the Draft

Focus Areas

To fulfill this mission, we propose four areas of focus: (i) pipeline and recruitment; (ii) retention and mentoring; (iii) climate; and (iv) measuring success and monitoring accountability. Within each area of focus we will engage with our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and local communities. We will partner with UC Health and national optometric organizations to extend our programmatic goals beyond the Berkeley Campus.

Improving the diversity of doctors of optometry, resident doctors, faculty, and industry leaders begins with the pipeline and recruitment of a diverse pool of applicants to optometry school.

Committee Members

Jessica Rivers, Chair
Dr. Jorge Cuadros, Clinical Professor
Hector Carrillo, OD Student
Vivian Dinh, OD Student
Orneika Flandrin, VS student
Dr. Clyde W. Oden, Alumnus
Linda Vang, OD Student

At Berkeley Optometry we are committed to a school-wide mindset shift away from can a student be remediated? to focus on what resources do we need to provide to ensure that we graduate proficient, successful clinicians? To accomplish this goal, we must guarantee all students access to appropriate academic support services, career development programs and mentorship.

Committee Members

Dr. Christine Wildsoet, Chair
Angie Gonzalez, Clinic Staff
Dr. Teresa Puthussery, Professor of Optometry and Vision Science
Dr. Chris Wilmer, Clinic Director
Graciella De Reza, Clinic Staff

Key to the success of all students and faculty is a sense of belonging. As diversity within our community is increased, we need to ensure that all feel welcome and are given every opportunity to succeed.

Committee Members

Dr. Kuni Kanai, Chair
Ananya Datta, VS Student
Barinder Flanagan, Staff
Andrea Huerta, OD Student

Our goals lend themselves to quantifiable outcome measures including:

a. Data on recruitment programs, including attendance at recruitment webinars and future in-person presentations.

b. Number of undergraduates enrolled in our Virtual Pre-Optometry Club, including those from URGs.

c. Number of applicants from URGs and matriculants compared with national statistics.

d. Graduation rates of all students, with special interest in those from URGs.

e. Number of faculty recruited from URGs.

f. Improvements in climate-based surveys of students, staff and faculty.

A mid-year,student climate survey was implemented 2 years ago and will serve as baseline data. Data will be collected annually by the Director of DEI&B and evaluated by an external review board comprising Berkeley Optometry Alumni, which includes representatives of the Black Advancement Initiative Council, who can hold our school accountable for meeting our objectives. Based on their findings, this review board will make recommendations to the Dean.

Committee Members

Monica Porter, Chair
Dr. Joy Harewood, Alumnus
Dr. Nancy McNamara, Professor of Optometry and Vision Science

Actions Taken

Use the dropdown menus below to read more about activities recently initiated by the Council.

We are happy to announce that Dr. Ruth Shoge has joined Berkeley Optometry as Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, and Associate Clinical Professor. Many of you already know Dr. Shoge through her DEI Workshops, and her frequent appearance on national panels. Dr. Shoge received her Doctor of Optometry degree and residency training in Pediatrics and Vision Therapy at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO). She received her Master of Public Health from Temple University with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Science. During that time she developed a special interest in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, which includes addressing health disparity concerns through cultural competency training, recruitment and retention strategies, and curriculum reform.

As a clinical educator, Dr. Shoge specializes in pediatric care, binocular vision disorders, vision disorders related to TBI, and vision therapy. In the clinical setting, Dr. Shoge aims to provide and model clinical competence and cultural humility to her students as they care for their patients.

One of the initiatives being explored under the umbrella of the school’s Diversity Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Council is a more formal (structured) mentoring program for students within our OD program. We will start by developing a pilot mentoring program, which is slated to commence in the Fall of 2021. Student input will help us develop a program best suited to your needs. To this end, we have created a short anonymous survey to assess student interest in mentoring and to better understand specific needs and preferences.

The Office of Admissions and Student Affairs (ASAO) and the Council for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) have created a survey to help improve the admissions and recruitment processes. Specifically, we hope to identify gaps in our admissions outreach, so that we can be more inclusive and intentional in our recruitment of underrepresented groups.

The survey is a collaboration between the school and four Berkeley Optometry graduates -- Drs. Joy Harewood, Cristen Adams, Farah Gulaid, and Sheryl Guillory Reaves -- who are working with Berkeley Optometry to identify opportunities to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at the school.

Black Eyecare Perspective held a virtual optometry fair on October 6 with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). UC Berkeley participated in the event which was well attended.

The DEIB Student Council is working with current students to create a program-wide Unlearn Club for optometry and vision science students. The non-traditional book club discusses books, articles, podcasts, movies, documentaries, and videos at monthly meetings. Their upcoming selection is the film: The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson.

Academy DEI Forum: ASCO/AAO/NOA held a Forum at the Virtual Academy meeting. All classes, labs, and clinics were cancelled so our entire community could attend. It was the most attended meeting at any Academy meeting and is likely to become an annual event.

The Clinical Faculty and all the optometry students participated in training provided by Dr. Ruth Shoge of Salus University. Culture, diversity, equity, identity, and race were discussed with examples directly related to patient care. Participants were broken into groups to do activities and to discuss topics.

The Dr. Harry Springer Family Fund for Promoting Diversity has been established to support efforts in developing innovative programs to bring about transformative and sustainable advancement in serving historically underrepresented students at the School of Optometry.

Created by Dr. Michael Harris to support recruiting and outreach efforts that advance an inclusive graduate community and enhance the cultural, academic, and professional experience of historically underrepresented students.

Formed to give the students a voice to discuss climate of clinical training and provide constructive feedback.

Berkeley Optometry's Vision Science students took part in the The Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). which was held virtually this year and attracts thousands of undergraduates from underrepresented groups to hear about opportunities in graduate programs.

NOSA is sending out monthly newsletters to highlight cultural holidays, celebrations, and workshops. NOSA is an international service organization comprised of over 1000 Optometry students who are dedicated to serving minority and under-served communities.


Berkeley Optometry is honoring the women who have shaped our school, and the field of optometry and vision science. We are featuring an initial group of six of the remarkable women from our community, and will continue to add more in the near future. Read more at:

Berkeley Optometry resident Dr. Dao’s paper explores the implicit biases in healthcare towards patients who are suffering from mental health problems. In her study, Dr. Dao says that it takes mental effort to unlearn the implicit bias, to make it a habit, to build discipline, and to be more inclusive. Read more at:

Vision Science P.h.D. student Angie Godinez has been named a 2021 Diverse Rising Graduate Scholar, an annual recognition of outstanding minority graduate students poised to make an impact on the academy. Angie, a member of the Levi Lab, is profiled in the March 18, Graduate Education edition of Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. Read more at:

Vision Science student Orneika Flandrin won the American Association of University Women scholarship, the first one at UC Berkeley. The association promotes equality and advancement for women.

In the new edition of the Berkeley Optometry Magazine, four Berkeley Optometry alumnae identify opportunities to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at the school.

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