Student Focus on Juliana Mazzotta
Name: Juliana Mazzotta
Hometown: Darien, Connecticut
High School: Darien High School
Undergraduate Institution: University of Miami
Undergraduate Degree: Biology
Anticipated #OSUopt Graduation Year: 2025
How old were you when you received your first eye exam? What was the experience like for you?
I was 10 years old when I had my first eye exam. I remember being so excited about picking out my first pair of glasses: an iCarly pair of course!! My optometrist was so amazing and made me feel so grown up during the exam. I felt smart and sophisticated in my iCarly glasses, and most importantly I could actually see the board at school now! I looked up to my optometrist so much and was so inspired by her ability to allow people to see.
When did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in optometry?
I decided that I wanted to pursue optometry at the end of my sophomore year of undergrad. I always knew I wanted a career in a medical field, so I shadowed tons of different medical professionals. Nothing felt as right as optometry. It was the perfect combination of everything I was looking for in a career. Not only are we able to make a huge difference in the lives of our patients, but the work-life balance is incredible, the community across the country is like a family, and the doctor-patient relationships you’re able to build are so unique and special.
Why did you choose Ohio State Optometry?
Being from the Northeast, I was almost certain that I wanted to go to optometry school there. But when I was introduced to Ohio State, the program spoke for itself, and it was an opportunity I could not pass up. The students and professors who we heard from throughout the admissions process were so passionate about the program and the field of optometry, and they assured me that the opportunities provided by Ohio State are outstanding and incomparable. Everyone was so kind and knowledgeable, and I knew it was a community that I wanted to be a part of and one that would benefit me throughout every step of my optometry journey.
What was your first impression of Ohio State Optometry?
My first impression of Ohio State was from interview day. As I mentioned, before interview day, it wasn't really my intention to end up in Ohio. But after my few hours on Zoom that day, I was basically convinced. Specifically, I remember Dr. Earley's presentation about the program. I was so impressed by his description of Ohio State and everything that the college has to offer. Even on Zoom, I could feel the enthusiasm, passion, and confidence that Dr. Earley and the other presenters had about Ohio State Optometry. I knew immediately that Ohio State was an incredibly prestigious yet tight-knit program that truly values each and every one of its students. After interview day, I was confident that Ohio State had everything that I was looking for in an optometry school, and I knew it would allow me to become the best possible optometrist that I can be.
What surprised you most about Ohio State and/or Columbus?
I was most surprised by how close everyone in the program is! Because of the small size of our college, all of the students and professors are able to form very close relationships that are so special and so important on the long journey of optometry school. I know this sounds cliché, but it is seriously like a family. I was especially surprised by how incredibly kind, understanding, and caring every single professor is here. Not only will they do everything in their power to help you succeed, but they care so much about your mental and physical health outside of school, and they are so understanding and caring when life interferes with that. I know the relationships I was able to form with my professors in only one year will benefit me for years to come, and I know they have our backs no matter what. If you’re an incoming student, don’t be intimidated by them!! They are there to help you and support you every step of the way!
Which clubs/organizations have you joined at Ohio State?
I first became involved as a class officer for the Class of 2025. I am the Secretary/Treasurer, so I make a weekly and yearly calendar for the class, and I send out weekly emails with whatever is going on during that upcoming week. I am also the Trustee-Elect for AOSA, which is a national organization that prioritizes advocacy and developing leaders for the field of optometry! As Trustee-Elect, I am able to work with our Trustee, Emily Benson, and the rest of the AOSA board here at our OSU chapter to fight for optometry and ensure our amazing profession gets the legislative recognition it deserves! I also have the privilege of traveling to conferences throughout the year to work with AOA and AOSA members all across the country to network and work towards accomplishing this goal! I also recently became a Student Outreach Chair for Optometry Ambassadors, so I will help connect incoming students with resources they may need as they begin optometry school. I am also a member of Epsilon Psi Epsilon, the optometry fraternity here at Ohio State, the only one in the country!! And lastly I am a member of SVOSH, one of our amazing service organizations here at Ohio State.
Who has most positively affected you during your time as an optometry student so far?
Without a doubt, I can thank my classmates for most positively affecting my experience so far. The Class of 2025 is such an amazing and inspiring group of people, and they have made my experience here at Ohio State truly priceless. I was so lucky to make an amazing group of friends from the start, and I could not have done first year without them. Everyone in the class is so kind and supportive, and I am confident that I could turn to any one of them for a helping hand, advice, or a great time. We all got through a lot together in our first year, and it brought us all together in such a special way. I know the friends I've made here at optometry school will be some of my best friends for life.
What was your favorite part of your first year?
I know I sound like a broken record, but my favorite part of first year was experiencing it with my best friends! There were so many good times and a fair share of hard times, and I couldn't have done it without them. It was so incredible to see us all budding into optometrists and learning things together that we will carry into our practices one day. And during our Keystone course at the end of the year, it was so cool to realize how much we learned in first year and to be continuously inspired by my classmates as we solved real patient cases with this knowledge.
How did you spend your summer between OPT I and OPT II year?
For the first two weeks of summer, I did some traveling in Europe, and then spent a couple of weeks at home with my family in Connecticut. In mid-June, I traveled to Chicago for the AOA's annual Optometry's Meeting, and then after that, I headed back to Columbus for the rest of the summer! There, I worked at The Optometry Clinic at the front desk. Over the summer, I definitely took advantage of Columbus and explored the parts of the city that I hadn't seen yet!
What advice do you have for the class of 2027 as they start optometry school this fall?
My advice would be to find a balance!! Optometry school is not easy, but that does not mean you should lock yourself away studying for hours and hours every day. Balance is key!! Reach out to your classmates, be social, go off campus every now and then, and prioritize your mental and physical health!! Self-care is seriously key. If you like to work out, or cook, or read, or whatever it is - make time for it!! Taking breaks will benefit you more than hours of continuous studying, I promise!! Also, if you like to get involved with extracurriculars, definitely do that here too! There are so many opportunities to be part of amazing organizations. Don't bite off more than you can chew, but remember that optometry school is so much more than studying, and getting involved is a great way to re-discover your "why" - aka why you decided to become an optometrist. Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help! Whether it's your classmates, students in the years above you, or your professors, everyone is here to help and everyone wants you to succeed. Like I said before, these relationships will benefit you tremendously in school and in your career, and they will last a lifetime.