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MCO Ambassadors for Admissions

Third Year Students


My name is Ashley Kerr and I’m currently a second year at MCO. My hometown is Bad Axe, MI and I earned my bachelor’s degree in biology at Ferris State in Dec 2020. During the months prior to starting optometry school, I worked as an optician and technician in a private practice close to my hometown. One of my favorite parts of attending MCO is the wide variety of student organizations -  they truly expand my understanding and interests of the optometric profession beyond what is taught in the classroom. I am currently serving as the Secretary for the Michigan Optometric Student Private Practice Association and the Community Service Chair for Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time.  [email protected] 

Danielle Henderson


I graduated from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul in Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. My desire to serve others and help them see for my career drove me to go straight from undergraduate to Optometry school. I actually had a different Optometry school in mind, but after my interview with MCO, I had to rethink my original plan. The kindness exhibited to me was so apparent in that short interview, and the club, Fellowship of Christian Optometrists, caught my attention. In the end, I am so glad that I went with MCO for the kind people, small class sizes, and hometown vibe! Feel free to email me if you want to learn more!  [email protected] 


Hello! I did my undergraduate studies at Ferris State University, where I participated in Michigan College of Optometry’s 3+4 program. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Vision Science after my first year at MCO. While completing my undergrad, I worked at the University Eye Center at the front desk and the contact lens clinic. This allowed me to become familiar with MCO’s building and faculty while getting an optometric experience. I am so glad I chose to come to MCO because of the small class size, great professors, and amazing friends I’ve made. Feel free to email me with any questions you may have. [email protected] 


I am originally from Dayton, Ohio and attended the University of Dayton for my undergraduate studies. Going into my undergraduate studies, Optometry was not a thought of mine, and it wasn’t until I decided to have a LASIK procedure done to correct my vision that I thought about how much I loved my Optometrist growing up. Immediately after my procedure, I decided to go back and shadow my hometown Optometrist which was where I started to fall in love with the profession. They offered me a job and I worked there as much as I could for two years before coming to MCO. As I was doing research over all my options for Optometry school, MCO stood out right away due to their small class size, low faculty to student ratio, and their lab and clinic opportunities. I am happy to say that choosing MCO turned out to be the best decision I could have ever made as not only is the school very supportive in helping me advance my education, but I know some of the friendships I have made at MCO will last a lifetime!  [email protected]


I completed my undergraduate studies at Western University where I majored in Health Sciences and minored in Biology. I lived in Brampton, Ontario my entire life! I had the opportunity to job-shadow an optometrist for +100 hours since the age of 16. The exposure led to my great interest in optometry from a young age. Currently, at MCO I am the liaison elect for ASCO and CLCS. Other than great extracurricular activities, MCO provides an excellent opportunity to get to know your peers and faculty members. It is like having a second family away from home. The faculty pushes you to always do your best, and the early on clinical exposure will make you more passionate about optometry! Besides optometry feel free to ask me questions about moving to another city, housing, or anything that may come up. Looking forward to answering your questions!  [email protected] 

Julie JustinJULIE brooks

I attended Pine River High School and have lived in the area my entire life. I completed my bachelor's degree at Ferris State University before coming to Michigan College of Optometry. The summer before starting optometry school I worked as an optician in Cadillac, during this time my passion for optometry grew. I decided to attend MCO because of the small class size and the family like feel. The past year at MCO has proved that I made the correct decision and I couldn't imagine myself anywhere else. I am happy to answer any questions that you may have, just email me at [email protected].


Hello! My name is Marilyn Johnson, and I am from Ottawa, ON, Canada. I completed my undergraduate studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, where I majored in Life Science. From wearing glasses from a very young age to being supported by optometrists during my TBI, optometry has made a giant impact in my life. I hope to pay it forward someday and help bridge the health disparity gap by working with underserved populations. MCO was the perfect fit for me, with the smaller class sizes, location, and state of the art facilities. One thing that I love 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]


I was born and raised in Maine and completed my undergraduate degree at Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, PA where I majored in biology with a focus in ecology. I took a 3-year gap between undergraduate and MCO to work at an optometrist office where I was a technician and vision therapist. I chose the profession of optometry because I got to experience first-hand how clear vision can impact someone's life and I wanted to be able to give that to others. I really enjoy studying at MCO because of how close you become to professors and the other students. You can really tell how much other students, faculty, and staff want you to succeed. Being from the East Coast I wasn't sure how well I would adjust to Michigan but after my first year, I would choose MCO over and over again.  [email protected] 


I completed my undergraduate studies at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. There, I majored in biology with minors in chemistry and theatre. I currently serve as one of the Class of 2025 Class Representatives, the VRS Liason, and a class tutor. I have always been interested in the visual pathway as I grew up with a grandfather who had Retinitis Pigmentosa. Additionally, my parents met when they worked as contact lens sales reps, so vision has played a huge role in my life. Before coming to MCO, I worked in a private practice back home for about 3 years. Moving to Big Rapids was the first time I had lived outside of my hometown, but I wouldn't have it any other way. The MCO community has truly become my home and I wouldn't trade my experiences here for the world! I would love to connect, please feel free to contact me.  [email protected] 


I completed my bachelor's degree at Wabash College with a major in biological sciences and a minor in chemistry. I have worked for a private practice since 2015. I eventually fell in love with the optometry discipline after I had the opportunity to shadow a few patients with rare and debilitating ocular complications and ever since then, I have wanted to help save people's vision. I really enjoy the small population here at MCO, you get to learn all of your classmates and your professors really well which makes for a more comfortable experience. Even with the small size of the school, there is no lack of opportunities to get involved. I am currently a student ambassador and, due to my experience with running an optical lab, I edge lenses for SVOSH to help those who need specific Rx's, get the best vision they can. If you are looking for a close knit learning environment, then MCO is definitely the place you will find it! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions!  [email protected] 

Second Year Students

Ally Fioriallison fiori

Hello! My name is Ally, and I am a member of the Class of 2026. I am one of the representatives for my class, as well as I serve as the Community Outreach Coordinator for our Private Practice Association. This means I get to plan events like New Student Orientation, and Eye Ball, as well as help with different Private Practice Association conferences or events. I did my undergraduate studies at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and I majored in Biology. I graduated in 2020, and took a break before starting at MCO. I worked at a private practice near my hometown that solidified my passion for optometry. The moment I toured MCO, I fell in love with our gorgeous laboratories and tight knit community. I often find myself sitting in class thankful that I made the choice to attend. Optometry school is challenging, so it is nice to love where you go. If you have any questions whatsoever, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

Ashton FranchinoAshton franchino

I was raised in Alaska and love to engage in all outdoor activities, and my favorites are fly-fishing and backpacking. In Big Rapids, I enjoy visiting the disc golf course at Northend Park as it gives me a great excuse to get outside and enjoy nature! I was introduced to optometry through the glasses I’ve worn since I was young and chose optometry as my career after experiencing the inner workings of the clinic across a span of 5 years. MCO has given me the opportunity to pursue optometry under close guidance thanks to a small class size and great student to teacher ratio. I look forward to meeting all my future patients!  [email protected]

Brad PinetBradley pinet

I completed my undergrad at Ferris State University in 2.5 years, earning my BS in Vision Science after the completion of my first year at the Michigan College of Optometry. After completing my fifth and final semester of undergrad in the fall of 2021, I had all the required credits and chose to work the following spring semester as a technician at a local ophthalmologic practice in my hometown. As a technician I was able to gain experience and learn more about the field of optometry before starting my first year at MCO that fall. Here at MCO, I am the treasurer for MOSA (Michigan Optometric Student Association) and also actively involved in MOSPPA (Michigan Optometric Private Practice Student Association) and a volunteer organization SVOSH. I love that MCO has so many opportunities to be involved at school and in the community. I also appreciate the family atmosphere the smaller class sizes create, and how everyone here wants you to succeed! Please feel free to reach out with any questions! [email protected]

Bridgette Vedrabridgette Vedra

I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. I did my undergraduate studies at Ohio State University where I majored in Health Sciences and Rehabilitation and double minored in biology and clinical psychology. I had known I wanted to become an Optometrist since the fourth grade and always assumed I would stay at school close to home. After interviewing at MCO, I knew this was the right school for me. The professors genuinely enjoy forming connections and getting to know each of us which makes learning from them an easy and fun experience! If you have questions about class or life at MCO feel free to email me at [email protected]

Brooke Castillobrooke castillo

I completed my bachelor's degree in biology with honors here at Ferris State University before coming to MCO. While completing my undergraduate degree I worked part time at an optometry office in my hometown, which solidified my confidence that optometry school was right for me. MCO's small class size was a major draw for me when looking at schools and I love the connections I've had the opportunity to make with professors and classmates because of it. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me! Email: [email protected] 

Daria Gorskidaria gorski

Hello! My name is Daria and I am a Canadian student from Sudbury, Ontario. I completed my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Biology at Laurentian University and soon after I obtained my Master’s degree in the field of Biomedical Sciences. With the desire to pursue a rewarding career in health care, it was not until I shadowed my childhood optometrist that I realized optometry was the career path for me. I began working at his office for a year prior to applying to MCO. I chose MCO primarily because of the location and the small student-to-faculty ratio which has given me the opportunity to get to know my professors and classmates well. Everyone is so supportive of one another and I am very happy that I chose to pursue my optometric education at MCO. If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]

Dawson Wintersdawson winters

I attended Grand Valley State University where I studied biology and ran cross country and track. I completed my education in 4.5 years and took the second half of the year to work in a retina clinic in Grand Rapids. This experience in combination with working as a technician for 4 summers solidified my excitement for a career in optometry. I started at the Michigan College of Optometry in the Fall of 2022 and immediately felt at home. MCO offers one of the best optometry educations in the country, while fostering an environment where every student can succeed. I can confidently say I have met some lifelong friends here and look forward to meeting the next generation of students. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions.  [email protected]

Elise AnderssonElise Andersson

I went to GRCC for my first year of undergrad and did 2 more years at Ferris before coming to MCO. I received my Bachelors in Vision Science Degree through the 3+4 Program here at MCO. I grew up in Sparta, MI and had the opportunity to work in an office there in high school. During my undergrad, I was able to work at an office in Rockford, MI where I gained a lot of experience as a tech. I have known I wanted to be a part of MCO since high school but had no idea how much I would love it here. It’s like gaining a huge new family! I love how we all get to know each other so quickly. The professors here will go above and beyond to make sure that you understand what you need to know to be a successful optometrist. I am the president-elect of the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists and a member of many of the other student organizations MCO has. There are so many opportunities to be involved and network through these organizations. I truly believe MCO is the place to be to gain the best knowledge of optometry, and it comes with a great group of people to help you along the way. Please email me if you have any questions! [email protected]

Garrison Farrgarrison farr

I am from Muskegon, Michigan, and attended Muskegon Community College for 2 years before finishing my undergraduate degree at Ferris State University with a bachelors in Pre-Optometry/Biology. I became interested in optometry as a child when I would need routine eye exams due to one of my eyes being weaker than the other, where I patched one eye to strengthen the other. During highschool I interned for a local optometrist to get an idea of the profession. I also spent a year prior to my first year and the summer after my first year working for a private practice gaining a lot of valuable experience. The time I spent working in a practice solidified my aspirations to become an optometrist! I chose The Michigan College of Optometry due to its proximity, the student to faculty ratio, and the overall quality of education. The small class size truly allows for a family-like atmosphere. MCO was my dream location for graduate school, and it has lived up to those dreams! Feel free to reach out with any questions! [email protected]

Gretchen Stubengretchen stuben

Hello! I am from Shelby Township, Michigan and completed my undergraduate studies at Michigan State University, where I majored in Physiology and minored in Bioethics. During my time at MSU, I was in the Lyman Briggs College and was involved in Pre-Optometry Club, where I served as President my senior year. I became interested in optometry through shadowing and working at a private optometry practice while in undergrad, where I was a technician and vision therapist. I am very happy with my decision to attend MCO, I love the small class sizes, the amazing faculty, and I’ve met life-long friends. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me! [email protected]

Jessica HoweJessica Howe

Hello! I grew up in Sault Ste Marie, ON, Canada but I completed my Undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph (in Ontario) where I majored in BioMedical Science. I’ve always had an interest in optometry but when I began working in a clinic, this interest only grew. I love that this profession has such a huge impact on patient’s lives and I would love to be apart of this one day by bringing more specialized care to communities that may not have it, such as my hometown! MCO is the perfect place for me to work towards this as it is such a tight knit community and professors, faculty and students are always willing to help! I’m so glad I choose MCO because of the small class sizes, various opportunities to get involved and the amazing friendships I’ve made.  Feel free to email me with any questions you might have, I’d be happy to help! [email protected]

Mariah Bierleinmariah bierlein

Hello, my name is Mariah and I am originally from Frankenmuth, Michigan! I went to Ferris State University for my Bachelors in Biology. I first became interested in optometry as a child when I went in for an eye exam hoping to get glasses but unfortunately learned that I did not need them. Since then, I have become grateful to not need glasses full time and my love for optometry has grown. Prior to starting MCO, I shadowed in multiple modalities of optometry offices and worked one summer in a commercial optometry practice. I also gained experience by working in an ophthalmology clinic during the summer between my first and second year. I ultimately decided to stay in Big Rapids and attend MCO because of the small town atmosphere and the friendliness of everyone during my interview. That friendliness has grown throughout my years at MCO between my classmates, other classes, and the doctors. If you have any questions or just want to chat with a student at MCO feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

Marino Markhomarino markho

I was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio and attended the Ohio State University during my undergraduate studies, where I graduated with a degree in neuroscience.  Here at MCO, I am currently a Trustee-Elect for the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA), student liaison for the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), and a liaison for the Diversify Optometry Program of the National Optometric Student Association (NOSA). During my undergraduate studies, I had shadowed many fields looking for what I can make of myself, and saw my true potential in optometry. I shadowed my local optometrist and from the first patient I was hooked. This field encompassed a community environment, fun and friendly atmosphere, as well as a caring and compassionate standard of care that was unmatched. There is no better place that instills these values into its institution than the Michigan College of Optometry! Choosing this school as my new home for these four years is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. [email protected]

Matt Alderinkmatthew alderink

I started out at a community college for two years before transferring to Ferris State University for one year of undergrad. I completed a BS in Vision Science through the 3+4 program offered by MCO. I knew since freshmen year of high school I wanted to be an optometrist, and started out working at a practice in my hometown shortly after graduating. After transferring to Ferris State University, I found my way into MCO’s clinic working as a Student Optician while also starting a job at a local optometry practice. I tried to expose myself to the field of optometry as much as I could, and the more I learned, the more I knew this was the right field for me. The same is true now that I am in the program, as I’ve tried to get as involved as I can. I currently serve in the following positions: Class Representative for the class of 2026, Contact Lens & Anterior Segment Representative, Secretary of the Michigan Optometric Student association, Co-Community Chair of the Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity, and Treasurer of the Optometric Public Health Student Association. MCO offers plenty of opportunities to get involved to help you further your understanding well beyond your classes. With such a small class size, you get to know your classmates and faculty extremely well. MCO really starts to feel like a second home. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out! [email protected]

Saif Abdulameersaif abdulameer

I grew up in Vermillion, SD before moving to Big Rapids, MI later on. I completed my undergraduate studies at Ferris State University, where I obtained my B.S. in Vision Science through the 3+4 program. As well as a student ambassador, I am also currently serving as  secretary for the National Optometric Student Association. While I've always known the medical field was for me, it wasn't until I began shadowing several modes of practice and working at an OD/MD office that I realized Optometry was for me. I especially love how it allows me to forge a compassionate and meaningful connection with patients while simultaneously having the incredible opportunity to alleviate their vision and ocular health, sometimes in life-changing ways. I enjoy MCO's small student-to-faculty ratio and the comfortable environment that comes along with a small class size. The comradery and relationships formed are an amazing result of that! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions! [email protected]

Stephanie Mathewsstephanie mathews

Hello! My name is Stephanie and I am a Canadian student from Cambridge, Ontario. I completed an undergraduate Bachelor of Science in biology at McMaster University in 2021. As a near-sighted individual, I had always valued my optometrist. In high school I started to consider it as a career when I realized how perfectly this profession combined all my interests in science, healthcare, and working with people! Prior to starting at MCO I spent a gap year working full time as an optometric technician while I applied to optometry schools across the US. I decided MCO was the best fit for me because of its closeness to home, small class sizes, the student-to-faculty ratio, and state-of-the-art facilities. If you have any questions about the program, being an international student, or life in Big Rapids please feel free to email me at [email protected].

Tristan VoelkerTristan Voelker

I did my undergraduate studies at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa where I majored in biology. It was a small school, which is something that I really enjoy about MCO. I feel like I get a lot of attention and help when I’m struggling in a class or a lab. Plus, every professor knows you by first name and will treat you as an equal. I’ve always been extremely far-sighted, which is what started my passion for optometry, but working as a technician during holiday breaks while I was an undergrad made me confident in my career choice. If you ever need anything, don’t be afraid to stop me in the hallway or shoot me an email!  [email protected]