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Dr. Cristen Adams
A male and female student working in the lab.
A male and female student working in the lab, with a view of the Campanile through the window.
Two female students in the clinic.
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.”

DEIB Symposium Video

To watch the full video recording of the DEIB Symposium, which took place at the Banatao Auditorium on March 2nd 2023, please follow the link below!

DEIB Symposium: Digital Health Equity

Race in Optometry Webinar Series

The State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry has hosted a series of webinars over the past three years with the aim to stimulate a national conversation on race and equity within the profession of optometry. Throughout six webinar sessions, speakers have addressed challenges, discussed the impact they have on our DEI initiatives and outlined tools we can use to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion in the face of these headwinds.

The latest session, Part 6 – Race in Optometry: Exploring Emerging Barriers to Success, took place on June 28th, 2023, and included Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEIB) Director and faculty member, Ruth Y. Shoge, OD, MPH, FAAO as a speaker.

Each recorded webinar session (Parts 1-6) is available to watch on YouTube, at the links below.

Living By Our Values

Our vision is to create culturally humble clinicians and researchers for a culturally complex world. We strongly believe in academic rigor and excellence and are committed to diversity, respect for cultural differences, and promotion of social justice and in the holistic preparation of our students. We promote diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice in all that we do at the Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science through our teaching and research, recruitment of students, hiring and retention of faculty and staff, and our clinical care.

Celebrating Cultural Heritage and Identity

Jewish American Heritage Month
From the perspective of Estie Sherabak.

May is the Jewish American Heritage Month, which pays tribute to the generations of Jewish Americans who have contributed to the history and culture of America. In recognition, we wanted to share some thoughts from Estie Sherabak (Class of 2024) about her experience growing up in America, and how her unique perspective contributed to her path into Optometry.

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AANHPI Month: Students & Faculty
Hear the stories of AANHPI students and faculty.

On Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is observed annually in May to celebrate the contributions that generations of people who identify as AANHPI have made to American history, society, and culture. The term is used broadly to describe a diverse and fast-growing population of around 23 million Americans, and includes about 50 ethnic groups with roots in more than 40 countries.

In honor of this month, we are celebrating both students and faculty as they share their stories about their cultural heritage and their experiences growing up in America. 

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Culturally Responsive Clinical Care: Why It’s Vital to Our Practice

Health and healthcare disparities continue to plague many marginalized communities, therefore it is vital that current and future optometrists are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to appropriately meet the eye care needs of our diversifying communities. This presentation by DEIB director and associate clinical professor Dr. Ruth Shoge will briefly review historical medical injustices that continue to influence our practice today, define key terminology, discuss relevant research that demonstrates ongoing disparities in eye care, and identify actions we can take to improve eye care equity in our communities.

Note: this video is only available to members of the UC Berkeley school community.


Action Plan Drafted

An Action Plan has been drafted for strategies to advance diversity and reduce structural racism at Berkeley Optometry and Vision Science. A final version is forthcoming and will be available soon.

Action Plan

DEIB Council Members

The complete list of DEIB Council Members is listed below.

Ruth Shoge

Clyde Oden

Ciel Mahoney
Community Engagement Representative

Liza Shevchuk
Communications Representative

Mike Hoffshire
Recruitment and Retention Representative

Angelica Gonzalez/Sandra Pena
Belonging and Climate Representative

Lauren King
OD DEIB Council Representative

Leah Johnston
VS DEIB Council Representative

Focus Areas

To fulfill this mission, we propose four areas of focus: (i) Recruitment and Retention; (ii) Belonging and Campus Climate; (iii) Education and Curriculum Transformation; and (iv) Community Engagement. 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.

We are committed to increasing recruitment efforts specifically for people who identify as Black, Latinx, and American Indian. Our goal is for both the optometry and vision science programs to have student, faculty, and staff bodies that are reflective of the local, regional, and national communities we serve.

Committee Members

Mike Hoffshire, Chair
Dr. Clyde Oden, Alumnus
Vivian Dinh, OD Student
Baldemar Torres, OD Student
Leah Johnston, VS Student

We realize that tackling the issue of diversity also requires creating an inclusive and welcoming environment to improve the long-term success of both recruitment and retention efforts. Belonging can be thought of as the feeling of security and support when there is a sense of acceptance, inclusion, and identity for a member of a certain group. Campus Climate includes the experience of individuals and groups in a campus and the quality and extent of the interaction between these various groups and individuals. The goal of a healthy campus climate is to improve the real and perceived quality of interpersonal, academic, and professional interactions in the school. A healthy climate is grounded in respect for others, nurtured by dialogue between those of differing perspectives, and evidenced by a pattern of authentic interactions among community members.

Committee Members

Angelica Gonzalez and Sandra Pena, Co-Chairs, Clinical Staff
Kuni Kanai, Faculty (past Chair DEIB Council)
Marlena Chu, Faculty
Ananya Datta, VS Postdoc
Lauren King, OD Student
Chris Wildsoet, Faculty
Pabita Dhungel, VS student

Creating a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming campus requires ongoing training for all constituents. The goals of this subcommittee are to work closely with the Continuing Education and Curriculum Committees to produce quality educational opportunities featuring diverse speakers.

Committee Members

Ruth Shoge, Chair
Nancy McNamara, Faculty
Pam Satjawatcharaphong, Clinical Faculty (CE committee Chair)
Stephanie Reeves, VS DEIB
Joanna Lopez, OD Student
Catherine McChrystal, Educational Technology & Online Programs

Our goal is to improve and increase our internal (optometry and vision science), university-level, and external relationships with community members in both professional and non-transactional ways. Non-transactional, or transformational, relationships are ones where one group does something without any desire or expectation for reward, which helps to establish trust and create authentic and lasting relationships within communities.

Committee Members

Ciel Mahoney, Chair, Development and Alumni Relations
Joy Harewood, Alumna
Angela Shahbazian, Faculty
Jorge Cuadros, Faculty
Tina Tran, OD Student
Max Greene, VS Student

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.

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.

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. To see more case studies on clinical cultural competence, please visit ASCO's website ( for more information.

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.

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.


The Fall 2021 issue of the Berkeley Optometry magazine features a Q&A with DEIB director Dr. Ruth Shoge. In the article, Dr. Shoge discusses her goals for expanding diversity and cultural competence at the school, and beyond. See page two:

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. To see more case studies on clinical cultural competence, please visit ASCO's website ( for more information.

To read the full article, please visit

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.

To read the full article, please visit

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.

The Fall 2020 edition of the Berkeley Optometry Magazine, four Berkeley Optometry alumnae identify opportunities to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at the school.

To read the full magazine, please visit

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