Karina Nikogosian '07
Area(s) of Study
Major in Biology and Minor in Spanish
Optometrist at LensCrafters
Doctor of Optometry
Illinois College of Optometry
What made you choose Lake Forest College?
Reputation for excellence, proximity to my family, my sister was also attending Lake Forest College.
How did a liberal arts education make a difference for you?
I feel that I received a well-rounded education because of my classmates and the commitment of faculty to students' success. We were not just a number; we were treated like extended family. The enthusiasm of Lake Forest College professors for teaching translated into the enthusiasm of students for learning and bettering themselves. It was a very welcoming environment and with utmost confidence I say were the best years of my life so far. I have a true gift of connecting with patients with ease, which I believe is partly due to my exposure to different cultures and clubs at Lake Forest College. Since the campus was small, I was able to make friends from all walks of life (from different states, from different countries) who also have majors different from mine, which was an amazing experience.
What experiences outside of the classroom do you think helped prepare you for The Doctor of Optometry program you engaged in?
My participation in the sorority organization, Delta Gamma - since our philanthropy is Service for Sight, I was exposed to the field of eye care. When I realized that optometry is the field I would like to go into, I called local optometry offices asking to volunteer. Dr. Schoepke from Johnson Eye Care in Cary called me back. I helped with as much as I could around the office and had an opportunity to shadow some of the eye examinations with patients' permission. Working with the science department as a participant of the Richter program was very helpful to instill a good work ethic and analytical skills. I strongly advise students to participate in programs that engage critical thinking and discipline. Rather than waiting for someone to hold my hand and create opportunities for me, I went after my dreams and goals without hesitation. No one will do anything for you if you do not show strong initiative is what I learned as an immigrant in a new country thanks to the strong ethic of my parents.
How did your time at Lake Forest College help you prepare to apply for your current healthcare position?
Professors at Lake Forest College in the science department were very committed to the students' success. Small class size, study groups, mentorship from 4th-year science major students, and extracurricular activities all contributed to helping me develop stronger leadership skills. Working with my advisor to ensure I had all the classes to apply to optometry school and having the knowledge background when taking the optometry admission test, all helped me to be accepted to the Illinois College of Optometry on the first try.
What do you think of the new Health Professions Program between Lake Forest College and Rosalind Franklin University?
I believe it will be very helpful to students when deciding on their career path. Preparation is the key to success and knowing as much as one can learn about a career path of interest makes applicants stand out during admission interviews. Having mentorship from the upper-class science majors and my professors helped with my career path journey. I started out with history and international relations majors, wanting to be a lawyer, but then took Dr. DebBurman's neuroscience first-year class and switched to a biology major. Also, my mom is in the healthcare field, so that had additional guidance in my career choice. Anything is possible with proper planning. For that reason, I believe that mentorship and exposure to a career field of interest are the best ways to get reassurance in future professional choices.
What skills and experiences at Lake Forest College do you believe will help you be successful?
Having a welcoming and supportive environment that is conducive to learning helped build confidence in public speaking and assertiveness. The rigorous curriculum of my classes at the College ensured that I was prepared to manage the academic workload well when I became a student at the Illinois College of Optometry.
What advice would you give a high school student looking to pursue pre-health and is considering Lake Forest College?
Talk to the students at the College and shadow in the field of the health profession you are interested in. Sit in on some classes as well, to see what class size works best for you. Meet with your advisor early on to ensure all your prerequisites have been met. What is also VERY important and is not evaluated enough, because students interested in the healthcare field just want to help others, is income to debt ratios students graduate with. Another overlooked factor after attaining a graduate degree is how favorable will the work-to-family life balance be for a particular profession, especially for women who dream of motherhood. Also, since it has been more challenging for recent graduates (compared to doctors who graduated decades ago) to develop lucrative private practices, it is important to recognize that working for corporate optical settings is what many recent grads have been choosing to do as they save up for their dream practice.