Student Focus on Shihij Takoo
Name: Shihij Takoo
Hometown: Dublin, Ohio
High School: Dublin Jerome High School
Undergraduate Institution: The Ohio State University
Undergraduate Degree: Microbiology
Anticipated #OSUopt Graduation Year: 2024
How old were you when you received your first eye exam? What was the experience like for you?
I got my first eye exam and glasses when I was five years old. I don’t fully remember the experience of my very first eye exam, but I remember being so excited to go to the optometrist every year to get a new pair of glasses and play fun games. My love of the optometrist as a kid is what made me think about optometry as a career and be especially interested in pediatric optometry.
When did you realize that you wanted to pursue a career in optometry?
I started undergrad on a pre-med track, but quickly realized medical school wasn’t the place for me. I wanted to pursue a career that would allow me to be a specialist but still have a good work-life balance and a wide option of career paths. I didn’t know much about the field of optometry except for my yearly eye exams, but coincidentally, I needed a summer job after my freshman year of college and decided to walk into my optometrist’s office and ask if they were hiring. Working as an optician and shadowing the doctor helped me realize the different possibilities in optometry and how fulfilling the career path could be!
Why did you choose Ohio State Optometry?
Ohio State Optometry has a unique combination of a small school energy with the backing of a large, research based campus in a growing city. I liked our small (but not too small) class sizes and was especially drawn to how involved faculty were on interview day in meeting us and making us feel welcome. I was also really interested in a future research career, and Ohio State puts a lot of emphasis on research at the university level. This backing and support trickles down to its individual colleges, including optometry! Out of every school I applied to, Ohio State Optometry had the most established and successful combined OD/MS program, which was a huge benefit. Also, Columbus is a growing city that is relatively affordable compared to other cities with optometry schools, and saving money while still being able to have fun was definitely a priority for me!
What was your first impression of Ohio State Optometry?
I was really drawn to how Ohio State Optometry has cultivated such a supportive environment. Whether it was admissions advisors meeting with me to help coordinate my undergraduate prerequisites, faculty and staff greeting and making us comfortable during interview day, or older students reaching out with advice when I started my first year, everyone here has always been willing to help. I think this impression has only grown in my years at Ohio State Optometry.
What surprised you most about Ohio State and/or Columbus?
Since I went to Ohio State for undergrad, I didn’t think there was much left in terms of surprises. I was definitely worried when starting here that it would feel boring or routine to be here for four more years. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how different of an experience professional school versus undergrad at this campus are. Our college is so tight knit and small compared to the rest of the university that it feels like a different campus experience. However, I love that we still participate in campus culture (like football tailgates at the EYE house) and can choose when and how to be involved on a larger university level!
Which clubs/organizations have you joined at Ohio State?
I’ve been lucky to join multiple student organizations during my time at Ohio State Optometry. I’m part of the board of the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA), National Optometric Student Association (NOSA), and the Inter-Professional Council (IPC). In AOSA, I get to learn about how to advocate for our profession and network with doctors around the country. As part of NOSA, we perform vision screenings to underserved communities in Columbus and advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of optometry. In IPC, I work with student representatives from other professional schools to help advocate for and fund professional students and our colleges. I also attend meetings for clubs like COVD and ocular disease club and learn a lot from the speakers they bring in!
Who has most positively affected you during your time as an optometry student so far?
As cheesy as this is, I wouldn’t be here without my class and the friendships I’ve made. I think our class has bonded a lot by going through a completely virtual first year and handling various changes that have come our way. In the process, I’ve made some great friends who I can lean on for support, vent to when times get hard, go on coffee runs with, and most importantly have fun with outside of school. Everyone in my class is so friendly and easy to talk to, which makes coming to class, labs, and clinic a lot more fun.
What was your favorite part of optometry school so far?
My favorite part of optometry school so far has been learning to perform the skills we need in clinic and our future careers. I always thought these skills were so cool and complicated looking, and I’m proud of myself for being able to learn them and improve on them as time goes on.
What advice do you have for the class of 2027 as they start optometry school this fall?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to professors and other students during optometry school! Everyone here wants to get to know you and is happy to help you find your footing at Ohio State. Optometry school can be tough, but a support system of faculty, staff, and friends helps a lot. Also, remember to let go of the idea of perfection — if you could grasp every skill and concept perfectly immediately, you wouldn’t need to go to school for it! Be open to learning, growing, messing up, and making the most of your time here!