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MCO Ambassadors for Admissions

Third Year Students

Albert Gomez

Albert Gomez

Well hey there!  My name’s Alberto Gomez, and I’m from Holt Michigan.  I completed my undergraduate at Grand Valley State University where I majored in Biomedical Science.  I became interested in optometry when I joined the pre-optometry club at GVSU and eventually began working in an optometry practice throughout undergrad.  Working in that practice as well as taking an optometry mission trip to Mexico during my undergrad really solidified my interest in the field of optometry.  I chose the Michigan College of Optometry because of the small class sizes and more intimate learning environment.  They have a great history of preparing their students for their boards and preparing students to become great optometrists overall.  On top of that, MCO is close to my family which is very important to me.  If you have any questions feel free to ask me at [email protected].

Aleesha AndersonAleesha Anderson

I am originally from Minnesota but went west for my undergraduate studies, and I attended South Dakota State University. Staying in the Midwest but traveling east this time, I headed to Michigan for optometry school. During my summer and holiday breaks from my undergraduate studies, I was a technician at a local optometry office. I loved having the time to talk to the patients, get to know them, and explain the purpose of each test. This inspired me to pursue a career in optometry, which led me to MCO. I love the small class sizes, the interactions with the professors, and the close community feel. Please feel free to contact me with any questions. [email protected]

Alex Couch

Alexandra Couch

I completed my undergraduate studies at Central Michigan University and received a degree in Biology. When I started job shadowing a local Optometrist during my second year there, I knew I had found my calling! I love helping people, and I wanted to be able to develop long-lasting relationships with my patients. The profession seemed like the perfect fit for me, and on top of that, eyes are just plain cool. I really wanted to be involved at MCO, and I earned the pleasure of being the Class Representative for the Class of 2023. I love bridging communication between the students and faculty and being a resource for my classmates. MCO is a fantastic community, where everyone supports everyone, no question is a bad question, and we treat each other like family!  [email protected]

Alissa Athanasakos

Alissa Athanasakos

I attended York University in Toronto for undergraduate studies in Biology, and lived in the Greater Toronto Area my whole life. My interest in Optometry grew from observing the profession by shadowing local optometrists and from my curiosity in understanding the mechanics behind vision. I love travelling and to be active outdoors. I joined the intramural soccer team at MCO and participated in the 5K virtual run to benefit the CDC and to support those battling Covid-19.  MCO is a great school, with its small classes sizes you really get to know your entire class, upper year students and can easily find one-to-one time with the professors. MCO is an extremely supportive environment all around! Feel free to reach out on any social media or email me - [email protected]

Allison Hyttinen

Allison Hyttinen

I did three years of undergraduate studies at Ferris State University, where I majored in Pre-Optometry/Biology. I was involved in the Pre-Optometry Club and even became the president during my third year. I have wanted to be an optometrist ever since I got my first pair of contact lenses at 8 years old. While in college I worked at a small group practice in my hometown during summer vacations. This job helped confirm my decision that this is what I wanted to do with my life. Now I'm studying here at MCO and it is everything I wanted and more! I am currently the AOSA trustee-elect and a member of SVOSH. Feel free to contact me with any questions! My email address is [email protected].

Baylee Roys

Baylee Roys

My name is Baylee Roys and I am from Grand Rapids, MI. I went to Ferris State University for undergrad and graduated with a degree in Biology in 2019. Through shadowing and research, I learned that optometry was the career choice for me. MCO has been an amazing family for me since I started undergrad in 2015 and has continued to feel like home. The small class size was a big part in my decision to come to MCO but also that there were so many opportunities to get involved and further your love for optometry outside of the classroom. If you have any questions feel free to email me, [email protected].

Connor Monaghan

Connor Monaghan

Hi there! My name is Connor and I’m amongst the Class of 2023 here at MCO. My hometown is Bay City, MI and I completed my undergraduate studies at both Delta College and Ferris State University. Having been accepted into MCO as part of their 3+4 program, I received my Bachelor’s degree in Vision Science. My career choice stems from an early age - where I had hopes of becoming a doctor of some sort - and that interest carried into high school. I felt optometry was not only the most pragmatic approach when selecting my profession, but also the most intriguing as well as offering the hands-on experience/patient interaction that I desired. Choosing MCO to further my education in this regard was a no-brainer; the low class size undoubtedly creates a family-type atmosphere beyond compare - not to mention the high-end facilities at your disposal to really get the most out of your learning experience. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected].

Courtney Bieszczad

Courtney Bieszczad

I first became interested in optometry when I visited my hometown optometrist in St. Clair, Michigan. A year later, I decided on Ferris State University for my undergraduate studies, where I completed the 3+4 Program. If I could do it all over again, I would not change any of my decisions. I believe the close knit atmosphere and high regard for education makes MCO the perfect optometry school. As this is my 5th year in Big Rapids, I can answer almost any question about this small scenic college town. Feel free to email me!  [email protected]  Thank you, Courtney Bieszczad

Hannah Gaudette

Hannah Gaudette

Hello! My name is Hannah Gaudette, and I am from Grosse Ile, MI. I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan- Dearborn, where I majored in Biological Studies and minored in Psychology. When I was in preschool, I was prescribed my first pair of glasses and an eye patch. My early introduction to optometry and my great doctors are what sparked my interest in eye care. I confirmed my passion for optometry by shadowing and working in eye clinics throughout high school and my undergraduate studies. MCO is a great place to learn and make lifelong friends. One of my favorite things about MCO is that faculty and students are always willing to help if you ask for it. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me!  [email protected]

Jason Spaude

Jason Spaude

Prior to attending MCO I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Kentucky where I studied agricultural and medical biotechnology. While there I competed on their NCAA rifle team and was able to gain an appreciation for the optics of shooting and how to see the target better. This led me to the field of optometry where you are able to help people see their target better every day. At MCO, I am the student liaison for the Michigan Foundation for Visual Awareness. MCO is a great place to prepare you to become a successful optometrist. It is a close-knit community with state-of-the-art facilities and personable faculty. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

Jen Eaton

Jennifer Eaton

I graduated from Ferris State University with a bachelor’s degree in Vision Science. I was able to take advantage of the Michigan College of Optometry’s cutting edge 3+4 program which allowed me to complete this Vision Science degree while also working towards my Doctor of Optometry degree. My passion for Optometry began in high school as my father’s progressive eye disease forced him to surrender his driver’s license while also facing an early retirement after becoming diagnosed as legally blind. From the moment I have arrived at MCO it has been a place where my passion for ocular health is transformed into a purpose to help patients just like my father. MCO is a place where faculty not only want you to merely succeed, but to succeed at your highest level of capability. Most of all, MCO is a place where students weave dreams into success stories and where faculty and class sizes averaging 38 students become a family.  Feel free to contact me with any questions: [email protected].

Natasha Switchuk

Natasha Switchuk

Hello! My name is Natasha and I am an international student from Burlington, Canada. I did my undergraduate studies at McMaster University where I was part of their Honours Life Science program. I was part of this program for 3 years before being accepted under MCO’s 3+4 program. I always had the idea that I would do something involved in healthcare. Close to the beginning of high school I started to learn more about optometry, and being a glasses wearer myself I thought it would be a great profession. When I first visited MCO, I was immediately sold by the amazing building; there really isn’t any other optometry school like it. Not only is the facility state-of-the-art, but the small class sizes and the amazing faculty make it feel like a second family. If you have any questions about anything, please don’t hesitate to send me an email! [email protected]

Rachel Bushey

Rachel Bushey

I completed my B.S. at Grand Valley State University, majoring in Biomedical Sciences and minoring in Biology. My campus involvement included president of our pre-op club, tutoring, and marching band (I play trombone). Here at MCO I stay involved by attending presentations, participating in research studies, and being part of a few organizations including being president-elect for SVOSH. Optometry has been a constant in my life from a young age as I have needed glasses since second grade. I spent time shadowing optometrists and started working as an optometric technician in undergrad. I chose MCO for its reputation, small class sizes, and its amazing alumni.  Please email me at [email protected] with any questions.

Rebecca Karl

Rebecca Karl

I am from Grand Rapids, MI and I completed my undergraduate studies at Grand Valley State University. There I majored in Biomedical Science and minored in Spanish. I discovered my passion for vision while at GVSU during my second year. The combined influence from my anatomy course, my love for space and my desire to serve my community brought me to optometry. I ultimately chose MCO for its small class sizes and low student to faculty ratio. The relationships I have made within my class and the rest of the community assure me that I made the right decision with MCO!  [email protected] Thanks, Becky Karl

Sam McNeill

Samuel McNeill

I attended Ferris State University for my undergraduate studies where I got a BS in Vision Science. During college I was involved with the pre-optometry club, on-campus theater, and drew cartoons for the university newspaper. On my summers off I had the opportunity to travel with my brother overseas and intern in a local optometry clinic as a technician. I've been interested in optometry since high school and enjoy the opportunities that our profession has to improve the quality of life for our patients. The people at MCO, both faculty and students, are some of the best people I've ever met and this program has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Feel free to email me if you have any questions!  [email protected]

Sarah DeVries

Sarah DeVries

I attended Grand Valley State University and graduated with a biomedical sciences bachelor’s degree before coming to Michigan College of Optometry. I enjoy being involved in the school and am the current president-elect for our student body government, OSG as well as being a member of the honors council. I chose MCO due to the small number of students in each class and the exceptional reputation it has in the field of optometry. My time at MCO has been incredibly eye opening (pun intended); I am happy to answer any questions you have about MCO! Just email me at [email protected]!

Taylor Scheurer

Taylor Scheurer

Hey there! I am Taylor Scheurer and I am a part of the Michigan College of Optometry Class of 2023. I am from the Cadillac area, just 45 minutes North of Big Rapids. I attended Ferris State University where I earned my B.S. in Biology. During my time as an undergraduate student at Ferris, I was a commuter, member of the Honor’s Program, involved in the Pre-Optometry, as well as so much more. During high school, I was not sure which medical profession I wanted to pursue, and it was not until my brother endured an ocular injury that I knew that the Optometric Profession was for me. Attending my brothers visits to both an ophthalmologist and optometrist made me realize that patient care is something I want to experience, and from that point on, I shadowed an optometrist to make sure it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Shortly after job shadowing my optometrist, I was offered a position to work as an ophthalmic technician as well as an optician to gain experience for two years. While experience in a practice is not necessary, I would strongly recommend it. While attending the Michigan College of Optometry, I am currently the Community Service Chair for Optometry Student Government, the Secretary of the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists, a member of the Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (SVOSH), the Contact Lens and Anterior Segment liaison, and the Sports Vision liaison. I am very happy to be at MCO, surrounded by helpful and knowledgeable students and faculty. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions. [email protected]

Second Year Students

Abbey MayerAbbey Mayer

I did my undergrad at Ferris State, where I majored in biology, and was accepted to MCO as a 3+4 student. I went to high school near Ann Arbor, so I’m very familiar with the transition from big city to small town life. I am the community service chair for our chapter of SVOSH and I am the NORA liaison for our vision rehabilitation club, as well. I know all about Big Rapids, so please feel free to ask me about student life, housing, or anything else. In my opinion, there’s no better place to learn than MCO!  [email protected] 

Ashley PetersAshley Peters

I completed my bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in chemistry at Saginaw Valley State University. I also attended Delta College for 2 years prior to starting at SVSU. While completing my undergrad, I worked for my local optometrist learning the ins and outs of the eye care industry. My passion for Optometry blossomed in this environment, seeing the differences we made in patient’s lives and vision every day. Here at MCO, I am one of the class representatives for the class of 2024, the President-Elect of the Michigan Optometric Student Association, and a member of the volunteer organization; SVOSH. I love that MCO has so many opportunities to be involved at school and in the community. I also appreciate the smaller class size the school provides. Getting to know my classmates and professors as future colleagues and knowing they have the desire for me to succeed is one of the best parts about MCO!  [email protected] 

Calvin HabbaCalvin Habba

I attended the University of Detroit Mercy for my undergraduate studies in Biology. I participated in MCO’s 3+4 program and was able to earn a BS in Vision Science while working towards my Doctor of Optometry degree. My interest in Optometry solidified after I had an opportunity to witness my hometown optometrist collaborate with a neurologist and help diagnose a pituitary tumor that otherwise would have gone unnoticed. At MCO, I am a representative for the Contact Lens & Anterior Segment Club, and a member of SVOSH. I chose to come to MCO for the state-of-the-art facilities with small class sizes, and faculty that care about each and every student. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to send me an email at [email protected].

Daria LaisureDaria Laisure

I am a long-standing Bulldog, having earned a BS in Biology from Ferris State University. Remaining in Big Rapids, at the Michigan College of Optometry, was always where I saw myself learning, growing, and engaging with collogues. There are many opportunities to get involved here, from MCO specific organizations (Contact Lens Club) to FSU activities (intramural and club sports). In addition to the busyness of academia, I work full-time for the Office of Housing and Residence life, hold a position as the National Residence Hall Honorary Community/Volunteer Chair, and participate in many of MCO's clubs. To say that MCO is your "home away from home", becomes an understatement. With the small class sizes, community atmosphere, and sense of belonging, your optometric career will excel. I'd love to answer any questions you may have! Feel free contact me via email at [email protected].

Emma KerrEmma kerr

I earned my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Biology from Grand Valley State University. Throughout my life I have always known I wanted to go into something in the medical field with a goal of improving the lives of those in my community. I first shadowed a few optometrists and loved the pace and flow of the daily schedule. I followed that up by getting a job at an Optometry/Ophthalmology office- that sealed the deal! After working in a clinical setting, I had zero doubts optometry was for me. I love how MCO is such a close-knit environment due to the small class sizes and the overall atmosphere here. Big Rapids is a beautiful town in all seasons and is in close proximity to anything you could need. Above all, what convinced to choose MCO was how kind and helpful everyone is here. MCO creates a home-away-from-home feel where you have great resources while surrounded by people who are the salt of the Earth. At MCO you are not a number, you are someone everyone wants to see succeed, and they will help you in any way needed for you to achieve that goal. Feel free to email with any questions you may have, I’d love to hear from you!  [email protected] 

Hannah LongHannah Long

Hi! My name is Hannah and I am so excited to be a MCO student ambassador this year. I completed my undergraduate studies at Grand Valley State University where I majored in Biomedical Science. Originally, I had not planned on attending optometry school, but after some shadowing during my sophomore year of college I knew it was the perfect path for me.  My hometown is on the east side of Michigan in Oxford, and it has been nice to go to school not too far from home. Even with online learning and COVID restrictions my first year here, I have met some of my best friends and had the opportunity to learn so much. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions! [email protected]

Kayla McCaigKayla McCaig

Hello! My name is Kayla McCaig and I am from Bangor, MI. I completed my undergraduate studies at Western Michigan University, where I majored in Biological Studies. MCO feels like a second home, and I couldn't be happier with my decision to attend. I enjoy the low student-to-faculty ratio and the ability to get to know all my classmates. I fell in love with optometry after working at a local office shortly after high school. Since then, I have worked at two private practice optometry offices and became certified as an optician and paraoptometric technician. I highly recommended MCO to students looking for a welcoming community, supporting staff, and uplifting classmates.  You are welcome to reach out to me with any questions at [email protected]

Laura SchnepfLaura Schnepf

I went to Ferris State University for my undergraduate studies and completed a BS in Vision Science degree through the 3+4 Program offered by the Michigan College of Optometry. I shadowed multiple optometrists throughout college and quickly confirmed that optometry was the field for me! I chose MCO for optometry school because of the small class size, the advanced learning facilities, and the supportive environment. I am a member of multiple clubs at MCO, which is an easy way to get involved, learn more about the profession, and meet great people. If you have any questions, you can email me at [email protected].

Leah ThompsonLeah Thompson

I am from Whitehall, MI and completed my undergraduate studies at Calvin University (formerly Calvin College). I received degrees in Biology and Spanish, both with honors. At MCO, I am a class representative for the Class of 2024, president-elect for our private practice club MOSPPA, and a member of other on campus organizations. I've been in the Optometric setting for my entire life, first as a patient and now as a student. I have had the privilege to shadow multiple optometrists and work as an optometric scribe/technician/biller for two summers. All of these experiences and more led to my decision to be an Optometrist and attend MCO. I'm so blessed to study at MCO; I love the small class sizes, strong community relationships, and endless ways to become involved. If you have any questions about MCO or life in general, please feel free to email me anytime!  [email protected] 

Molly LeslieMolly Leslie

I am from Grayling, Michigan, and I attended Saginaw Valley State University for three years before I was accepted to MCO under the 3+4 admissions program. I decided I wanted to be an optometrist at the end of my first year at SVSU after shadowing several different types of doctors. I am the president elect for SVOSH and the mental health liaison for OSG and I enjoy running, biking, and traveling in my free time! I really enjoy that MCO has small classes which has allowed me to get to know my professors and classmates well. The low faculty to student ratio has been great because there is always time to ask questions or get one-on-one help when I need it.  [email protected]

Natalie ObererNatalie Oberer

I grew up in Colorado and attended the University of Denver for undergrad, where I graduated with a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Spanish. I didn’t initially go into the sciences and actually decided on optometry pretty late in my undergraduate career, which led to taking a gap year between undergrad and starting at MCO. My dad went to MCO for his optometry degree, so I knew a bit about the profession before starting school here. Overall, I really love MCO and I think it’s a great option for anyone who prefers small class sizes & getting to know your professors as peers, not just as educators. Good luck with your decision and feel free to get in touch with any questions.  [email protected]

Nick KeithathNicholas Keinath

I went to the University of Michigan for undergrad, where I majored in Neuroscience. I am the current president-elect for Optometry Student Government, which allows me to help in the planning and execution of fun and important events throughout the school year. Optometry presents an incredible opportunity to quickly and dramatically improve people’s quality of life, which is in large part why I decided on this profession. Optometry also offers a one-way ticket into the depths of the unique marriage between vision and neuroscience, which is a nice bonus for me. MCO’s small class size truly does foster a family-like atmosphere, which has proven invaluable time and again in the midst of our stressful, (but rewarding), curriculum. If you have any questions for me, please feel free to reach out: [email protected]

Rachel McKurasRachel McKuras

I majored in biology pre-medicine at Indiana Wesleyan University for my undergraduate schooling. I gained an interest in optometry early on from the positive interactions I had with my optometrist. After my junior year of high school, I began working at an optometry office which further increased my passion for the field. The experience kept me coming back for a total of five summers. I continued digging deeper into optometry by job-shadowing during my undergraduate studies. I love being able to help people in any way I can and look forward to doing that through optometry! I appreciate the education MCO provides and the value placed on providing the best patient care possible. I find the low student-faculty ratio to be a great plus from an educational standpoint and the small school size helpful in connecting deeper with classmates. Feel free to reach out with any questions! Email: [email protected].

Selena NehmehSelena Nehmeh

I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn where I majored in biochemistry and minored in psychology. I’ve always wanted to have a career where I can make a difference in the lives of others and once I started researching optometry, I loved it! I shadowed doctors during my time in undergrad and worked as a sales associate/technician at a Lenscrafters where I learned so much more about the field. I am really enjoying my time here at MCO because of my amazing professors and classmates! Having a small class size makes it so easy to really get know your classmates and get help when you need it. Feel free to reach out with any questions at [email protected].

Sheen MathewSheen Mathew

Hello! My name is Sheen and I am a Canadian student from Brampton, Ontario. I completed my degree in Honours Life Science at McMaster University during which I started my journey to pursue optometry. I was an active member of various vision-related organizations at school including a research group where I conducted vision screenings across local elementary schools. Along with shadowing optometrists and working as an optometric technician, I very quickly realized that I wanted to contribute to this dynamic and rewarding healthcare field. MCO stood out to me amongst other schools due it’s state-of-the-art facility and how closely faculty worked with students due to the small class sizes. The school’s outstanding reputation also assured me that I would be equipped with the necessary resources to reach my full potential. Please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have! [email protected]

Tate HammondTate hammond

After graduating from Zeeland West High School, I spent the next three years at Ferris State University. My undergraduate advisors and the faculty at the Michigan College of Optometry helped me pursue the 3+4 pathway, allowing me to join the MCO family before receiving my bachelor’s degree. As somebody who struggled to choose a career path after high school, I can say that optometry has reassured me that my academic efforts will be able to translate to the improvement of my community. I am reminded of this when I spend time with my classmates, my MCO instructors, and the patients in my hometown clinic.  [email protected] 

Taylor FissTaylor Fiss

I grew up in a small town in southwest Kansas.  I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Kansas.  In undergrad, I worked at a family practice eye care office under two optometrists.  I fell in love with optometry and have been pursuing my optometric dreams ever since.  I am so thankful to have a place/home here in the MCO community.  I am thrilled to help new students on their path into optometry and will be available if you have any questions or concerns.  [email protected]

Vera LindhorstVera Lindhorst

I am from St. Cloud, Minnesota but did my undergraduate studies at Luther College in Decorah, IA where I majored in Biology. I became interested in optometry at the ripe age of 5 when I received my first pair of glasses. I walked into my optometrist's office determined to never put them on and walked out of his office convinced I must be pretty special considering I was the only person in my class to adorn such a chic accessory. In his small actions, he showed me the power a good doctor can have. Although I did not begin to seriously pursue the optometry path until my sophomore year in undergrad, I had plenty of time to shadow different doctors and even take a trip to Ghana to work with a local eye clinic. Those experiences helped nail down my passion for eye care.  MCO has offered me a place to learn, grow and be a part of a great community. Despite being from out of the state, I feel like I have truly found a home here.  [email protected]