Samuel Stack; University of Connecticut class of 2016; Major: biological sciences; SUNY College of Optometry OD program class of 2020
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Why did you choose to pursue a career in healthcare?

I always knew I wanted to be in healthcare, growing up in a family with two optometrists as parents. I worked in my mother's practice throughout high school and college and loved patient care and giving back to the community.

What were some meaningful extracurricular activities that you were involved in while at UConn?

I was a founding member of UConn KDSAP, where we provided free health screenings to monitor and educate about kidney disease; I did UConn in London study abroad program, during which I volunteered at Moorfield's Eye Hospital; I was and still am a UConn Men's Basketball season ticket holder at Gampel (GO HUSKIES!)

What were some challenges you faced along your healthcare journey so far, and how have you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges was finishing my education during the height of the COVID pandemic. I had to miss my last rotation of Optometry school and start my residency during a very heightened period of the pandemic. This is an important time in optometric education to fine-tune all the skills you learn the first four years and increase both efficiency and skill, which in turn got replaced with zoom lectures and scenarios. Coming out of the pandemic and adjusting to the real-life needs and reality of primary eye care was the biggest learning curve so far of my young career.

What are some ways you take care of your mental health and overall well-being?

I am fortunate to have taken a job where I get Saturday-Monday off. I use this time to hike the White Mountains, ski in the winter, and golf in the summer. I also love to travel and am active in our communities Rotary Club.

What advice do you have for aspiring pre-health students?

Undergrad feels like the end of the world sometimes, and applying for professional school/medical school can feel like the most cut-throat endeavor. However, it is important to lean on your colleagues and friends for guidance and help along the way. These people will end up being your peers and coworkers in the future and will be a valuable resource along the way!