MCO Ambassadors for Admissions

Third Year Students

 Gabrielle Smiley

My attraction to this field was sparked long before I knew what the profession really was; having been near-sighted since elementary school, I gradually became aware of how well my vision was looked after by my local optometrist. A Wisconsin native, I crossed the border to Minnesota after high school and completed my undergraduate studies in Physiology at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. A two-year internship under an optometrist there further solidified my desire to join the profession. I currently serve as class representative and recently completed a summer research internship at the Eye Center in contact lenses. In my time so far at MCO, I have enjoyed the newly customized facility and the willingness of the faculty to nurture my ever-growing optometric curiosities. Having my “Michigan family” of classmates is just another amazing feature of the small class sizes here. Please contact me with any questions on why I am loving my experience at MCO!

 Lindsay Kleinschmit

I grew up in Shelby Township., MI, which is just north of Detroit. I received my degree from Ferris State University where I majored in Biology/Pre-Optometry. Optometry has interested me since high school, when I decided to job shadow my local optometrist. I knew I wanted to have a career in the medical field, and optometry seemed to be the perfect fit for me. Since then, I have volunteered and worked at a variety of different practices. I chose MCO because of the small class size and the new, state of the art building. I definitely made the right choice! The teachers are great, and there are a lot of different ways to get involved through the various student organizations. If you have any questions about MCO or Big Rapids, feel free to contact me at

 Felicia Slate

Hi, my name is Felicia Slate and I’m from the small town of Hesperia, MI. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was in elementary school, and I have always looked forwarding to seeing my optometrist every year. I knew early on that optometry was the profession for me. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a Pre-Optometry track from Ferris State University. While at Ferris, I competed on both the Cross Country and Track teams. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to continue my education at the Michigan College of Optometry. With the small student to faculty ratio, the state of the art facility, and the family atmosphere I’m confident that I made the right decision. Here at MCO, we have many student organizations and opportunities for leadership positions. Besides being a Student Ambassador, I am also the secretary for the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) and an active member in SVOSH, MOSA, and MOSPPA. When I’m not at school I love to run, kayak, ski, and hang out with my friends and family. I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have!

 Morgan Baker

Hello, and welcome to MCO!  I’m from Spring Lake, Michigan, located on the shore of beautiful Lake Michigan.  I attended Grand Valley State University for undergrad majoring in Biomedical Sciences and minoring in Spanish.  I became interested in optometry after my first eye exam as a teen, when I realized I could have a career in an innovative medical field and still have a family life.  Choosing that career path also prompted me to join several groups in undergrad such as Pre-Optometry club, Lions Club, and a Science Leadership Society.  As president of the GV Lions Club I was able to volunteer and help the visually impaired and blind and I loved it!  With this career path I hope to use my knowledge of Spanish and skills as an optometrist to better serve my community and those less fortunate in need of proper health care.  One of the reasons I chose to attend the Michigan College of Optometry was because there were many opportunities to participate in organizations related to my field.  I also appreciated the fact that MCO has held onto their principle of maintaining a small class size to faculty ratio.  Being in an optometry program can be difficult, but fortunately, the faculty and classmates always make you feel at home.  I am proud to be a part of the MCO family!

 Tara Stacey

I am from Plymouth, which is a town located west of Detroit.  For undergraduate school I chose to attend Michigan State University, receiving a B.S. in Human Biology and minor in Nutritional Sciences. While there, I shadowed a variety of medical professions and soon realized that Optometry was the perfect one for me. I spent the next few years working at a local optometry practice, where my interest for the profession only continued to grow. I chose to attend the Michigan College of Optometry because it has so much to offer its students, including its student organizations, easily accessible resources, or help and guidance from the faculty. I am so grateful and proud to be a part of MCO; if you ever have any questions or are interested in hearing more, I’m more than happy to help!

 Michael Seebruck

Optometry sparked my interest late in high school. I wanted to be part of the medical field where I could make a direct impact on my patient’s quality of life. I am originally from Wisconsin and completed my B.S. in Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. While at Stevens Point, I spent many hours shadowing local optometrists to learn as much about the profession of Optometry as I could; I quickly understood Optometry was the right future for me. The Michigan College of Optometry (MCO) was at the top of my list because of the small class size and the ability to make close connections with all of my colleagues. I enjoy being involved in the college and am fortunate to serve as the Optometry Student Government (OSG) President. We have amazing student organizations here at MCO that bring us students and the faculty unique experiences only possible with small class sizes.  My favorite part about MCO is the amazing faculty that go far beyond their call to educate. They enjoy participating in student events and add to the memorable experiences during our time at MCO.  If you have any questions about Optometry, MCO, or life in Big Rapids please don’t hesitate to contact me through email.

 Joshua Halm

Hello, my name is Joshua Halm. I received my undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Michigan. Go Blue! I chose the optometry profession because I wanted to pursue a career that was interesting and would also challenge me. During my undergrad I began working at a private practice with two optometrists near my home in Rochester, Michigan, which strengthened my passion for optometry. The state-of-the-art equipment, resources and facilities available to students are what interested me in MCO. Feel free to contact me at with any questions.

Andrea ShankAndrea Shank

Hello everyone! My name is Andrea Shank, and I am a third year student at the Michigan College of Optometry. I grew up in a small town called Tekonsha, which is located in between Battle Creek and Marshall. I attended Homer High School, and graduated in 2010. I earned my Bachelor's in Vision Science through the 3 + 4 program at Ferris State University. My optometric interest was sparked in sixth grade when I first needed optical correction. From there, I progressed to job shadowing my local optometrist, and fell in love with the profession. I am beyond thrilled to be receiving my optometric education at the Michigan College of Optometry! The state of the art facility, and the latest equipment greatly benefits my education. The staff and faculty at the college make learning fun and exciting! I am glad I chose MCO to further my education, and if you have any questions about attending MCO, please feel free to email me at

Angela KargenianAngela Kargenian

As a non-traditional student, I have a different story than most. My interest in becoming an optometrist  came after working in the field, initially  as an insurance biller  and  later as an assistant. I grew up in Arizona and lived in North Idaho for four years prior to moving to Michigan to pursue optometry school. I completed the prerequisite courses at Ferris State University and received my Bachelor’s of Vision Science after my first year at the Michigan College of Optometry (MCO). I chose MCO mainly for the small class size and most reasonable tuition. The faculty at MCO is very supportive and always striving to help students succeed. Big Rapids is a nice community with a small town feel and close enough to Grand Rapids to enjoy big city conveniences on weekends. I couldn't be happier with my choice to attend MCO! 

Second Year Students

 Alexander Groth

I completed my undergraduate degree at Alma College earning a B.S. with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry. I decided a wanted to be a medical professional after taking Anatomy and Physiology in high school and becoming fascinated with the human body but didn't decided upon optometry until having an in depth conversation with my optometrist and shadowing experience. It didn't take long for me to realize that MCO was the right choice and the perfect fit for me. Coming from Alma I was looking for small class sizes and the ability to develop more personal relationships with my professors and that is exactly what I get and I couldn't be happier.

 Allison Webster

Hi, my name is Allison Webster! I graduated from Hope College in Holland, MI, where I majored in psychology. Aside from being an MCO student, I am the Vice President of the private practice club, MOSPPA, and am passionate about missions and volunteer work. I became interested in optometry while in high school after spending a summer volunteering at a blind rehabilitation center. I was inspired by the courage I saw in their residents who faced life with severe visual impairments, and wanted to learn more about helping them gain the skills needed to accomplish everyday tasks. Optometry has a big impact in peoples’ lives by optimizing their vision, and I believe MCO is the best place to help you enter into this exciting profession. Feel free to email me if you have any questions about MCO or optometry!

 Amber Cumings

I attended Ferris State University for my undergraduate studies, where I initially started with a Biology/Pre-Optometry major until I was accepted into the Early Admissions Program. I then completed my bachelors of Vision Science through the Michigan College of Optometry in my first year of graduate studies. My desire to become an Optometrist started around middle school when we had our first career fair. I’ve had glasses since early childhood so it was something I wanted to get to know a little better early on. Upon starting optometry school, I got involved immediately with becoming one of my class’ representatives and joining several organizations. I’ve always known that MCO would be the only option for my optometric career and now that I’m attending, I’m completely satisfied with the environment. Being part of such a welcoming and caring college has made my experience outstanding. Please feel free to email me regarding any questions you have about the college or Big Rapids in general!

 Courtney Schneider

Hello!  I’m from Port Sanilac MI, which is a small town on Lake Huron.  I started wearing glasses in early elementary school and I’d have to say that’s when I became interested in optometry. I was amazed when my headaches and eye strain disappeared while reading at school after putting my first pair of glasses on.  After high school I went on to study
human biology at Michigan State University. At MSU I devoted much of my free time to the MSU pre – optometry club as
vice president. I also worked for Lens Crafters, where I was first exposed to the optometric field.  When it came time
to pick an optometry school, I knew MCO was the right choice for me because of the family atmosphere.  Everyone is very close, and professors are willing to go out of their way to not only help you, but make you feel at home.

 Daniel Van Elk

I attended Western Michigan University where I received a Bachelor of Music degree.  It wasn’t until my wife began her career in the healthcare field that I realized that I also wanted to pursue a career in healthcare.  After stumbling upon the field of optometry, I saw what a great opportunity the field offers to make a positive impact on others daily, while allowing me to have a healthy work-life balance. I worked in a couple different practice settings, and this further solidified my desire to become an optometrist.  It was an easy decision for me to make in choosing to attend MCO.  At MCO, you’re not just a number filling a seat.  You are a future doctor, vital to the College of Optometry that the faculty genuinely cares about. The smaller class size also allows you to get to know your classmates (and future colleagues) on a deeper level. They will be valuable resources in navigating through the rigorous curriculum, and in the future when practicing as an optometrist.  I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have!

 John Chrustowski

I am from the Metro Detroit area. I attend Ferris State University and received a degree in Vision Science. I became interested in optometry from a summer job working for an optometrist.  I worked there for four summers and I became more interested in the profession every summer. MCO is a great place to learn how to be an optometrist.  Besides school, it is also a great place to make friends with your future colleagues.  If you have any questions about MCO or the Big Rapids area feel free to email me.

 Kristen Johnson

Hi and welcome to MCO, my name is Kristen and I grew up in Sarnia, Ontario AND Lexington, Michigan (just north of Port Huron)!  I completed my Bachelor of Science at the University of Western Ontario, in London Ontario, where I majored in Biology.  I’ve known that Optometry was the right fit for me since I was 8 years old which was the first time I’d ever seen an Optometrist and the first time I’d ever seen the world around me look so clear. Making the decision to come to MCO was easy for me – the building is beautiful, the class sizes are small, the faculty are the most helpful people you could ever hope to meet, and the students are fantastic.  In addition to being a student ambassador, I am also President-Elect for SVOSH, and Liaison-Elect for the Vision Rehab Club!  MCO is a great place to learn and get involved!  If you have any questions about MCO, Big Rapids, or Optometry school in general, feel free to contact me any time at

 Madeleine Hacker

I am from Milwaukee, WI and I received my BS in Microbiology from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. I knew that I wanted to pursue a graduate degree, but it wasn’t until my final year of my undergraduate program that I began considering optometry. After graduating I took a year off to shadow a few optometrists and research the profession, and what I found was an underlying passion for optometry. It’s the perfect balance of science and patient interaction, and you’re able to make an impact on people’s lives on a daily basis. MCO has great faculty and a wonderful facility, and I truly believe that they offer the best optometric education. Plus there are plenty of student events for you to participate in when you need a break from studying. (I hope you like free food!) Feel free to email me with any questions!  E-mail address:

 Nathan Traxler

Hello, I am Nathan Traxler, a member of the Michigan College of Optometry’s Class of 2018. I was raised on the north side of Grand Rapids. I attended Rockford High School and applied to Ferris State as a Biology/Pre-Optometry major. I completed my undergraduate education at Ferris State University and was awarded a Bachelors Degree in Vision Science. Since entering Optometry School, I have become a member of the American Optometric Association as well as the Michigan Optometric Association. Additionally, I serve as the Optometry Student Government President-Elect and also participate as a member of SVOSH. I consistently continue to find Optometry to be an engaging, interesting, and rewarding profession of which I am proud to be a part of.  My other passion besides Optometry is music, whether it’s playing guitar, bass, drums or just listening for fun. If you have any questions about MCO, life in Big Rapids, or Ferris State University, you can contact me at

Alyssa Drew

I see optometry as a field of exciting opportunities and I am so happy to be a part of it! I had optometry in mind just before starting my undergraduate studies at Hope College in Holland, MI. After job shadowing different doctors I saw one commonality between them all- the doctors loved their job! It was the positive environment and rewarding results that motivated me to pursue a career in optometry. I am very happy with my experience at MCO so far because of the numerous opportunities to explore and get directly involved with the different aspects of optometry. Plus, I am able to do it with a strong community of faculty and students. I am the trustee elect for AOSA, member of the SVOSH missions group and enjoy other activities the school hosts. If you have any questions please email me at

Stephanie BergeStephanie Berge

My interest in optometry was sparked when I was prescribed my first pair of glasses at the age of five. While at first I was apprehensive, my optometrist opened my eyes to the wonderful benefits of wearing glasses.  Looking back on that moment, I am forever grateful of his patience.  As I grew older, I found myself always enjoying my yearly visit to my optometrist.  At the age of sixteen, I realized that optometry was the field for me. I obtained my BS in Biology from Ferris State University.  I decided to attend the Michigan College of Optometry because of its outstanding reputation and small class size. Every member of the MCO faculty and staff genuinely cares about your learning experience and well-being.  I am proud to be a part of this wonderful field and thankful for the opportunity to attend MCO for my optometric education. Feel free to contact me with any questions!


Stacy Boguszewski

Hello!  My name is Stacy Boguszewski and I am from Grand Rapids, MI.  I always knew I wanted to go into the medical field, but it was during a high school anatomy course where I decided to look into optometry. Working in an optometry practice for more than five summers solidified my interest in this as a career.  I attended Aquinas College where I majored in Biology and received a minor in Chemistry.  I knew MCO was the perfect fit for me based on the small class sizes and the state of the art building and technology, as well as professors who are always willing to help.  MCO offers many opportunities to get involved and provides a fun environment for learning and pursuing this wonderful career!  Feel free to contact me with any questions!

 Derek DakeDerek Dake

I am Derek Dake, and I am a part of the Michigan College of Optometry Class of 2018.  Prior to my time at MCO, I received a B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Physiology from Northern Michigan University in Marquette.  I am originally from Newberry, a small town in the Upper Peninsula.  I am involved in many different student organizations at MCO, and I am currently the treasurer for SVOSH.  I chose optometry as a profession because I have been interested in eyes since my first eye exam.  Prior to my time at MCO, I worked as a tech at an optometry office for 3 summers. MCO was an obvious choice for me because of the professors, building, and small class sizes.  In my free time I watch sports, play intramurals, and tube down the Muskegon River.  If you have any questions about MCO or Big Rapids, you can contact me at