Student Focus on Curt Fritts-Davis
Name: Curt Fritts-Davis
Hometown: Greensboro, NC
High School: Bishop McGuiness High School (Kernersville, NC)
Undergraduate Institution: North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC)
Undergraduate Degree: Biomedical Engineering, Minor in Animal Science
Anticipated #OSUopt Graduation Year: 2023
How old were you when you received your first eye exam? What was the experience like for you?
I am embarrassed to admit I only had one eye exam in my entire life before starting optometry school at Ohio State. It was at an ophthalmologist's office when I was in middle school. It wasn't very memorable. They didn't even dilate me! I was lucky to not need glasses growing up, so I had very little exposure to eye care until more recently.
When did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in optometry?
I have loved optical illusions since I was a wee little tyke. My grade school librarian let me keep the illusion book I checked out every week once the binding started to fall apart. Something about human perception has always interested me. When I got to college and started learning about the physics of light and how the optics of the eye work, I was intrigued. At that point, I thought I wanted to pursue a PhD in vision science. I saw that many schools with a vision science program had accompanying optometry programs, which sounded interesting. I hadn't had any exposure to optometry, so I reached out to some local ODs to gain some shadowing experience. One of the doctors I met, Dr. Brett Miller, specialized in binocular vision and vision therapy, which has a lot to do with visual perception. Many of the therapies were like the illusions that had fascinated me since I was a kid. Dr. Miller could tell I had a passion for her work and offered me a job as a vision therapist. The more I got to see, the more I realized this was what I wanted to do with my life.
Why did you choose Ohio State Optometry?
My wife and I wanted to attend a school that offered both of our programs: optometry and veterinary medicine. Ohio State ranks among the top schools in the country for both of our programs, it's comparatively very affordable, and we could go to school on the same campus. It was our first choice, and we were fortunate enough to both be accepted by our respective programs!
What was your first impression of Ohio State Optometry?
Starting with the first day of orientation, I have always been impressed with our college's efforts to create an inclusive and supportive environment. Everyone at the college has the common goal of student success. My classmates support each other in the best way, and it is obvious that this culture has been fostered purposefully by the leadership at the college.
What surprised you most about Ohio State and/or Columbus?
Tornado sirens every Wednesday at noon were a pretty startling discovery during my first week in Columbus.
Which clubs/organizations have you joined at Ohio State?
I was the vice president of the COVD Club and the president of SAAO. Both were excellent experiences in their own way. I am part of the OD/MS program and will be defending my thesis sometime during the next year. I volunteered on a few Remote Area Medical outreach trips. They are simultaneously exhausting and hugely rewarding.
Who has most positively affected you during your time as an optometry student so far?
This is a hard question because so many at the school have made my time at Ohio State marvelous. But if I had to pick one person, I would choose my master's degree advisor, Dr. Kulp. She agreed to let me pursue a project of my own creation, starting from scratch. I'm sure she understood how much extra work that meant for her, but she let me do it anyway. She has always supported me with prompt feedback and guidance at all hours of the day and night (I don't think she needs sleep like us mere mortals). She also taught one of my favorite courses in the optometry curriculum. I owe her a great deal for the extra effort she has put into my personal education during the last three years.
What was your favorite part of optometry school so far and what are you looking forward to in fourth year?
Getting to see patients has been my favorite part of optometry school. I think for most of us, that's why we came to school. Patient encounters aren't always sunshine and rainbows, but I love the occasional moments when patients express to me how much our work means to them. The warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with knowing I made a difference in someone's life never gets old. In my fourth year, I'm looking forward to having those types of moments more often.
What advice do you have for the class of 2026 as they start optometry school this fall?
Start shadowing local ODs early and often. There are a wide variety of practice settings. The more you get to see, the better idea you will have of what you want your future career to look like. Shadowing is also a great networking opportunity!