Berkeley Optometry Student Ambassadors work in conjunction with the Admissions & Student Affairs Office to provide prospective students with “real life” information regarding what it’s like to be an Optometry student here at UC Berkeley. We are also your tour guides and class escorts for our Friday Visit Program.

We encourage you to ask us questions via email and we will be happy to share with you our experiences and passion for Berkeley Optometry.

Seija Roggeveen | 4th Year

Hello! My name is Seija Roggeveen and I am from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I received my Bachelor of Science from Mount Royal University in Calgary, with a major in Health Science and minors in Chemistry and Psychology. I have always found eyes fascinating, however I first became interested in optometry through a junior high science fair project on optical illusions and I have become further intrigued with eyes the more I learn about them! I had a great opportunity working at an optometry clinic in my hometown throughout my undergraduate degree and this is when I really knew optometry was the career for me. I enjoyed working with the optometrists, optical staff, patients and learning and adapting everyday to a different challenge. During my undergraduate degree I wrote a literature review on age-related macular degeneration, a topic that I was captivated by. I am looking forward to learning more about this condition as well as many other things throughout my studies here at Berkeley Optometry! In my spare time I enjoy running, yoga, travelling around the globe and being a tourist in San Francisco!

seija.roggeveen@berkeley.edu

Tiffanie Truong | 4th Year

Hi everyone! I was born and raised in Oakland, CA. Moving away from NorCal, I went to UCLA for undergrad and majored in Biology. Inspired by my own optometrist, I set out to learn more about optometry when I arrived at college. After several months of volunteering at health fairs through Bruins in Focus, a community service club that provides vision screenings, I realized the great impact that vision has on quality of life and knew I was going to into eye care.

My passion for working with underserved people drove me to expand the club to provide eye and vision education services when I eventually became its president. After shadowing optometrists at Jules Stein Eye Institute and a local private practice, I saw how much patient interaction optometrists had, which played a large role in my decision to pursue optometry. Working in a private practice for a couple of years and being able to work with patients only solidified my decision. As an undergrad, I went to pre-optometry club meetings and Opto-Camp to learn more about Berkeley Optometry. I found the amount of student involvement I saw during Opto-Camp to be extremely impressive. Ultimately, I decided to attend Berkeley Optometry largely because of the many opportunities available to students, great clinical training, and the supportive community. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

tiffanietruong@berkeley.edu

More Class of 2019 Ambassadors

Hear from more of our ambassadors from the class of 2019 by clicking on a name.

Undergraduate Institution: UC Davis
mjcastaneda@berkeley.edu

Hi! I'm Joan and I grew up in the Central Valley here in California (Modesto for those familiar with the area). I spent my undergraduate years studying Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior at UC Davis, where, interested in healthcare professions, I joined the pre-optometry club and started looking into optometry. All of my experiences encouraged me to continue my pursuit, but by far one of my favorites was attending Opto-Camp here at Berkeley. I took a gap year and worked in a private practice while I applied to optometry schools. Given my positive experience, I am an advocate of taking a year to get some exposure before starting school. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions! Good luck!

Undergraduate Institution: UCLA
vincent.chan@berkeley.edu

I choose Berkeley Optometry based on several reasons. These include my experience with Opto-Camp in June of 2013, the rigor and success of the program, and more importantly, the tight knit community between faculty and students. I believe that most programs will prepare you well to become an optometrist but Berkeley does an unbelievable job with their selection of professors and overall support from your peers and staff.

In preparing for admission, I used a variety of websites to sample interview questions and to practice them aloud. Furthermore, I did my research beforehand on why I wanted to attend Berkeley and spoke with several Berkeley students about the process of admissions and just their overall experience there.

Undergraduate Institution: UC Irvine
georgekc@berkeley.edu

Hi, my name is George. I was born in San Francisco but I consider the Silicon Valley my childhood home. After graduating from Monta Vista, I started with psychology at UC Irvine. However, once I was exposed to optometry during my first week, I decided to pursue a double in Biology after my first year. As I explored the different areas of optometry and psychology, I lost interest in psychology. I discovered that optometry fit my personality as I started shadowing and getting involved in research. Specifically, I noticed I enjoyed shadowing when the attending optometrist served children and during the times the patients profusely thanked the optometrist. The positive and uplifting one-on-one interactions also further propelled me to apply for optometry school. The club on UC Irvine's campus (U See Eyes) served as the best resource and support for my journey. Through the club, several members encouraged me to participate in Berkeley's Opto-Camp, an experience which solidified UC Berkeley's Optometry School as one of my top choices. After receiving offers from each school, I decided to attend Berkeley Optometry because the students here showed the passion and community needed in a difficult program. Because of the community at UC Berkeley, I can't wait to meet you! Please contact me with any questions or comments you may have.

Class of 2020 Ambassadors

Hear from more of our ambassadors from the class of 2020 by clicking on a name.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Arizona
samanthafung@berkeley.edu

Hi, I'm Sam! I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, and majored in Physiology at the University of Arizona. My interest in the field of optometry began when I was high school, but I solidified my decision to follow this career path during my undergraduate years. Being a part of the pre-optometry club showed me the variety of opportunities that are available as an optometrist, and working in an optometry office allowed me to realize how much I enjoy the patient interaction part of the career. What ultimately led me to choose Berkeley Optometry was the sense of community that I experienced when I visited the school during Opto-Camp, and during Interview Day. Seeing current students interact with each other as not only classmates, but also as friends, made me realize that this was the type of environment I wanted to be a part of for optometry school.

Undergraduate Institution: UCLA
jessica_gee@berkeley.edu

Hi everyone! I am from Sacramento, CA and I graduated from UCLA with a degree in Physiological Science. During undergrad, I explored many different health professions because I knew that I wanted to care for others, but wasn’t sure which specialty I wanted to pursue. What drew me to optometry were not only the long lasting relationships doctors formed with their patients, but the immediate and impactful change doctors had in patients’ lives. Initially, I thought optometry was limited to private practice. However, I was amazed at the wide scope of fields optometrists could pursue. From working as an optician at a private practice and shadowing optometrists specializing in low vision, I was able to experience how sight and eye health plays such an important part in everyone’s lives. At UCLA’s Stein Eye Institute, I also worked with an ophthalmologist and optometrist who co-managed patients after surgery and even got a taste of vision science when I conducted research in a corneal genetics lab. Ultimately, what drew me to Berkeley were the perfect balance of excellent clinical and research training, a large and diverse patient base, and a friendly and welcoming environment. I’m excited to learn more about the growing field of optometry. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions!

Undergraduate Institution: Michigan State University
adam_hoffhines@berkeley.edu

Hello! I am originally from Michigan and graduated from Michigan State University with a B.S. in Physiology. I always knew I wanted to work in health care and was initially focused on going to medical school but had a change in career choice once I got to work with optometrists. So far I would say Berkeley has been a great fit for myself and living in the bay area has been the new adventure I always wanted. If you have any questions or need any guidance I am more than willing to help!

Undergraduate Institution: UCLA
monicaprani12@berkeley.edu

Hey! My name is Monica and EYE am a third year student at the UC Berkeley School of Optometry. Clearly, I have not gotten over the eye puns after my first year here. I went to UCLA for undergrad and am involved in a few student/optometric organizations here at Berkeley such as the Graduate Assembly and the American Optometric Student Association. In my free time I like to nap, cook, and explore cute places around Berkeley. I am a friendly and chill person so feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns or if you just want to chat about Berkeley Optometry!

Undergraduate Institution: Boston University
joyce_zhang@berkeley.edu

Hello! My name is Joyce Zhang. I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii but as much as I loved the paradise, I shipped off to the east coast to attend Boston University for undergrad, majoring in Biology and Economics. Optometry was always on my mind since high school and since then, I've shadowed, volunteered, and worked in different settings and careers before devoting to this profession. Throughout undergrad, I was involved in diabetic retinopathy research and that made me realize how important the visual system is towards our quality of life. I really loved how everyone in the profession was welcoming, dedicated to direct patient care, and passionate in optometry. Before applying, I attended Opto-Camp which confirmed my decision in this career and with all these experiences, I really focused on getting into opto school right after graduating. Although there are many excellent schools out there, I ultimately decided on Berkeley because I felt like it was the best fit for me and what I wanted out of an optometric program. Feel free to reach out to me about ANYTHING, I would be more than happy to help!

Class of 2021 Ambassadors

Hear from more of our ambassadors from the class of 2021 by clicking on a name.

Undergraduate Institution: UC Davis
shazib_haq@berkeley.edu

Hello! My name is Shazib Haq, and I am a member of the Class of 2021. I am originally from Irvine, CA, and I went to UC Davis for undergrad. After college, I worked in an optometric office for two years to gain experience and see if this is what I really wanted to do! I started applying and was lucky enough to be accepted into my dream school (UC Berkeley School of Optometry of course!) . Please let me know if you have any questions!

Undergraduate Institution: UC Irvine
jessica_nguyen@berkeley.edu

Hi! My name is Jessica Nguyen and I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, California. For my undergraduate education, I received my Bachelors in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine. I've always had an interest in the health sciences and knew I wanted a career that would allow me to help others. I began shadowing two optometrists and was even given the opportunity to assist in a medical mission trip to Mexico where we gave free eye exams and glasses to a children at an orphanage. After these experiences as well as attending UC Berkeley's Opto-camp, I'm happy to have been able to follow my dreams here at Cal! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

Undergraduate Institution: UC San Diego
johnnypascual@berkeley.edu

Hello everyone! My name is Johnny Pascual, I was born and raised in south central Los Angeles. I completed my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from UC San Diego. I decided to take a couple of years off before being accepted into Berkeley Optometry as a re-applicant.

I was introduced to the healthcare system at a young age due to my father’s health condition. As I helped my father navigate through the health system, I realized that I was drawn to a career that combined problem-solving and enabled me to develop personal interactions with patients. In undergrad, I was a research assistant for the UCSD Hamilton Glaucoma Center. I interacted with a diverse group of patients to research new treatments for glaucoma. I found it fascinating to be a part of a profession that contributes to the research and care of patients with vision problems. After graduation, I worked as an ophthalmic technician for a multispecialty practice. As a native Spanish speaker, I was often the bridge to communication and understanding between patient and doctor.

I am extremely excited to be a part of this great program, Berkeley Optometry, where opportunities seem endless. I am confident the decisions I make in the next four years will go beyond Berkeley Optometry. I encourage you all to explore your options and decide which school with offer you the best resources to become the best optometrist. Go Tritons and Go Bears!

Undergraduate Institution: Fresno State
rafaelremotigue@berkeley.edu

Hello, I’m Rafael! I was born and raised in Hanford, CA and received a B.S. in Biology from Fresno State. Prior to attending Berkeley, every time I visited the School of Optometry I was always welcomed by awesome and enthusiastic student volunteers.

I was greatly impressed by how organized and refined interview day and admit day were. It was apparent that the staff and faculty were always looking out for their students and listening to their feedback. The atmosphere of the school is incredible — and is a big part of why I chose to attend Berkeley after a couple visits.

My late grandmother was an optometrist in the Philippines but worked as an optician here in the U.S. She is the reason I wanted to become an optometrist, and I was fortunate enough to shadow at the optometry practice she worked at. Forging relationships with eye doctors has proved to be crucial by allowing for opportunities to work or shadow. Getting involved with shadowing and preoptometry clubs has prepared me well for optometry school because I found that surrounding myself with like-minded and ambitious peers motivated me to push myself and improve. Thankfully, the support of friends and family helped me power through when life got stressful -- and I’ve found that Berkeley’s School of Optometry has also provided that kind of support.

Undergraduate Institution: UCLA
janice_trang@berkeley.edu

Hi, my name is Janice Trang and I'm from San Gabriel, CA. I went to UCLA for undergrad and graduated in spring of 2016, so I've lived in SoCal all my life... until now! In undergrad, I worked a part-time job as an optometric assistant at a private practice in Santa Monica. While I learned a lot there, I further explored the field of optometry by shadowing physicians that specialized in different fields of optometry, from vision therapy to VA hospitals. In addition, I participated in a mission trip to Jamaica, where I was able to work even more closely with patients. Altogether, these experiences confirmed my passion for optometry. During my application process, I was drawn to Berkeley Optometry because of its strong clinical program. After being able to visit the campus, I felt the welcoming and supportive vibe in the community and right away, I knew that's where I wanted to be. I'm already loving it at Berkeley and I can't wait to see what's to come!

Class of 2022 Ambassadors

Hear from more of our ambassadors from the class of 2022 by clicking on a name.

Undergraduate Institution: CSU Sacramento
tylerspilman@berkeley.edu

Hello, my name is Tyler and I am from Sacramento, California! I did not have the most traditional route for my college career. Leaving high school, I attended a community college while working full time at an optometry center. I worked there for nearly seven years prior to beginning at Cal. I liked engaging with patients and educating them on everything optometry has to offer. I then transferred to CSU Sacramento where I also worked on campus as facilitator for supplemental microbiology classes, and served as president of the Pre-Optometry club I founded during my final year. I have seen family members go blind from diabetic retinopathy, AMD, and glaucoma. It is my goal to work closely with patients that have ocular diseases and co-manage their eye health. I strove to attend Berkeley as I knew it would prepare me best for boards, network in northern California, and better my chances for an ocular disease residency. In terms of sense of belonging and community, I felt touring the school, attending Opto-camp, and interview day all helped solidify Berkeley as my number one choice.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Western Ontario
ttenn@berkeley.edu

Hi! My name is Taylor and I was raised in Kingston, Jamaica. Moving away from the warmth, I went to Western University in Ontario, Canada for my undergrad. I have been fascinated by the eyes ever since my sixth grade teacher described the eye as the brain’s window to the world. From that time onwards I pursued learning more about the optometry profession. Working with various optometrists, I saw how closely they worked with their patients, the community built in the practice, and the novel challenges they were faced with everyday. I am passionate about people and I learned that being an optometrist means that I would be part of how a person experiences the world around them daily. I ultimately decided on Berkeley Optometry because of the strong sense of community that I felt when I visited on Interview Day and the amazing opportunities I would have there. My goal is to be an outstanding and well-rounded optometrist and I know that UCB will help me to achieve that. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions at all!

Undergraduate Institution: University of Miami
kayle_edwards@berkeley.edu

My name is Kayle Edwards and I'm originally from Daytona Beach, FL. Upon earning my BS in Biology from the University of Miami, I was accepted to my dream school, Berkeley Optometry! When I decided to pursue a career in optometry early in college, I first researched everything there is to know about every optometry school there is in the states. My research demonstrated that Berkeley Optometry is unlike any other school in the access to resources, opportunities, and close-knit community that is fostered from a small class size of passionate, driven aspiring optometrist in one of the most diverse and inspiring places in the country. I saw this experience for myself from my several visits to campus from my interview day to admit day. Every time I was continually impressed that I get to call this campus my new home. During my undergraduate time I shadowed several optometrists in a variety of settings such as a private practice and a outpatient surgery center. In addition, I participated and took on leadership roles in my campus' pre-optometry club. This allowed me to volunteer at events hosted for visually impaired children in our community. I also conducted research at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute on retinal degeneration, allowing a unique insight into how treatments for ocular disease are created.

I encourage you to pursue opportunities that interest, inspire, and challenge you! These experiences are the heart of what will best prepare you for admission to optometry school and a successful career four years and beyond.

Undergraduate Institution: UC San Diego

michelle_to@berkeley.edu

Hello, my name is Michelle To! I was born and raised in Cypress, CA, a small city down in Orange County, and I received my Bachelor’s Degree in General Biology from UC San Diego. My first experience with optometry outside of my normal yearly check-ups was at an elementary school vision screening. I remember testing the kids with visual acuity charts to see if they could read the letters. Even though I had no skills I was still able to play a small part in some of their journeys to getting glasses and being able to see the world more clearly. Since then I have worked part-time at a private practice and I have shadowed optometrists in several specialties including Vision Therapy, Pediatrics, and Low Vision.

I was first introduced to the Optometry program here at Berkeley through a school presentation at my university and I was impressed by its strong clinical program. When I visited Berkeley Optometry during Interview Day and Admit Day, I met so many people - students and staff, who made me feel so welcomed. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this Cal family and to learn more about Optometry here at Berkeley.

Undergraduate Institution: University of Minnesota - Duluth
mts@berkeley.edu

Hello! My name is Madi, and I grew up in central Minnesota in a small farm town. I graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with degrees in Biology, Hispanic Studies, and Latin America Studies; I then took a partial gap year to work at a private optometric practice. I have not always wanted to be an optometrist. I am somebody who finds many topics fascinating and had a difficult time finding my career path--until I stumbled on optometry my senior year of college. I immediately submerged myself in the field by working as a technician and optician for a local optometrist, and I gradually became more and more convinced that this was the field of work I wanted to dedicate myself to. Attending optometry school at Berkeley was a no-brainer. Beautiful area, top-notch program, and a dynamic campus? Count me in.