Featured Alum: Mohammad Khoshnevisan, Ph.D., Mathematics, 1992

First we give information about Dr. Khoshnevisan, then we give his remembrances of his time at CBU.

Dr. Mohammad Khoshnevisan has completed his B.A in Mathematics from Christian Brothers University. Dr Khoshnevisan has obtained his Ph.D from the Department of Computer Sciences and Software Engineering from the University of Melbourne, Australia. Dr Mohammad Khoshnevisan is one of the world leaders in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Fuzzy Control Systems and he has applied this field in Financial Engineering and Medical Engineering and he has taught in Australia and he has been invited as visiting Scholar at Harvard University and University of California-Berkeley. Dr Khoshnevisan has published over 30 papers and 3 books in the United States and in international Journals mainly dealing with the Applications of Fuzzy Systems and Artificial Intelligence. Dr Mohammad Khoshnevisan research work in the Applications of Artificial Intelligence and Missile Guidance Technology in cancer detection has been reported by Australian IT / The Australian on November 29 2005 and it is cited by the The AI ALERT semimonthly of The American Association for Artificial Intelligence. Dr Khoshnevisan also has been a research associate with Massachusetts Institute of Technology-ISG and Professor Florentine Smarandache at the University of New Mexico-USA and he has reviewed many articles and he has acted as an examiner for Ph.D theses in Australia and overseas.

I was at CBU around 1989-1992. I remember most of my Professors and I can say:

  1. Professor Miller’s lectures were so fun and she was teasing us and she was saying in the class that she did not study Mathematics because the answers were on back on the book.
  2. Professor Limper’s classes were so challenging and I loved his style of lecturing and I used to hold discussions with him outside our class. One thing that I always remember is the fact that the sudden death of my sister made things very difficult for me. Professor Limper, Professor Yunushka, Professor Becker and Professor Vanderhaar were very helpful and they assisted me during the tough period.
  3. I wrote a paper in differential topology in my junior year and I approached Br. Joel Baumeyer and he greatly assisted me in shaping up my paper and I presented my paper at UCLA. I used to go to Br. Joel Baumeyer’s place of residence which was located on campus at the time and he always provided ne with guidance and support.
  4. I also learned great stuff in complex analysis and real analysis from Professor Becker.
  5. I sincerely appreciate CBU for providing such a great education and atmosphere for me to study. CBU had small sizes classes and I could interact with Professors very easily.

In conclusion, I love those who taught me at CBU and I wish them all the best.

Cheers,
Mohammad

Featured Alum: Laura Haskins, M.D., Natural Science, 2000

Laura Haskins, Natural Sciences, 2000, is now practicing at Memphis Mid-South OB/GYN Alliance, P.C. Below is her story in her own words.

Picture this: a 30-something-year-old mother of three, working as an ICU nurse, content with her life. Settled and not keen on change in general, she feels a new “call” on her life. At first, she tries to ignore this call, but over time it becomes overwhelming and unignorable (if that’s a word). The call? Go to medical school and become a doctor. A doctor! But wait! First, she must complete her degree. And that means taking stuff like Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physics, Embryology. Ouch! So after recovering from this realization, she steps out in faith and enrolls in a large university in the Memphis area, returning to college after many years. The students have gotten much younger since the last time she was here, and the material is daunting. One day, as she sits in a huge auditorium with hundreds of students, brow furrowed, struggling to grasp some chemistry concept, she overhears this whispered exchange:

“Man, there’s a lot of people in this class.”
“About half will drop out after the first exam.”
“Really?!?”
“Yeah, I’m repeating this class.”
New voice, “I’m taking it for the third time.”

Alarmed, she thinks, “I’m too old to be taking classes three times!” Driving home afterward, she phones her husband, frantic. Good naturedly, he suggests she transfer to his alma mater, Christian Brothers University. Ironically, he graduated from the Business College some twenty years earlier, when it was still known as “Christian Brothers College”. What great advice that turned out to be!

The story you have just read is true. And, as you may have guessed, I was that 30-something –year- old woman. Thankfully, I did take my husband’s suggestion and transfer to CBU. I can honestly say if I had not done that, it is likely I would not have become a physician after all. Of course, I received an outstanding education at CBU. That goes without saying. The instructors were very knowledgeable, approachable and interested in their students. I immediately appreciated things like the small class sizes and the professors teaching their own labs; but, over time I recognized the value of being treated as an individual with a unique set of talents and needs. I sincerely believe this is what allowed me to press on when things were difficult, to hang in there when I wanted to tuck tail and run back to my “settled” life.

At CBU, face-to-face interactions with faculty were commonplace, both prearranged and impromptu. I fondly remember Dr. Westcott’s Organic Chemistry study sessions. Every Friday afternoon at 4 o’clock, when the building was like ghost town, he met us in the classroom and tirelessly worked problems on the board. Week after week, he would stay until the last question from the last student was answered. Often it was just a few of us regulars there, but he didn’t seem to mind. (Funny, we regulars had a lot of company around exam time.) I’m sure he had better things to do with his Friday evenings, but I am genuinely grateful for the hours upon hours he devoted to us. Not only was I able to pass, he helped me to excel in dreaded Organic Chemistry.

When it came time to apply to medical school, Dr. Eisen was instrumental. Not only did he understand the lengthy process, but he coached me through it step by step. He assembled my paperwork and even wrote a letter of recommendation himself. Above and beyond the call of duty, he proofread and re-read my personal statement offering excellent critique. And like a great coach, he commiserated with me when I was placed on the waiting list, and cheered with me when I was accepted. It’s no wonder he was one of the first people I phoned when I launched my new practice.

Because the teachers knew me as an individual, they were able to write letters of recommendation that truly depicted Laura Haskins. During my last two years at UT medical school, I had the very great privilege of serving on the admissions committee. The letters written by professors who knew students personally carried much more weight than ones that sounded like a form letter.

Even after graduating, CBU was there for me. Preparing for my first set of med school exams, I felt so overwhelmed and just couldn’t understand the cell biology material. Dr. Ogilvie met me at the CBU library, explaining it in a way that made sense. “CBU is like the Hotel California,” we joked. “You can check out but you can never leave.” Truthfully, that’s a comforting feeling. So, now I am a 40-something-year-old mother of three, grandmother of two, and a doctor. A doctor! Had I not found CBU when I did, I might not be able to say that. Isn’t my husband wise? Must be that CBU education of his.

Featured Alum: Dina Strickland

Hi! My name is Dina Strickland and I attended CBU from 1987 to 1990. CBU was an easy pick for me, as I wanted a school close to home and one with smaller class sizes. It didn’t hurt that CBU had a great reputation, too! I was planning to apply to Physical Therapy school after fulfilling pre-requisite requirements and wanted a school that would challenge me academically and prepare me for my future endeavors. This is exactly what CBU provided! I had great professors that took interest in each of their students. They made themselves available to us and were very helpful in guiding us in the right direction. I left CBU after my junior year, as that is when I applied, and was accepted, to Physical Therapy school. The study habits that I learned and the work that I performed while at CBU certainly prepared me for what I faced in P.T. school.

I graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.S. degree in Physical Therapy in 1992. This has been a great field for me to be in and I thoroughly enjoy what I do! Physical Therapy has given me the opportunity to have the best of both worlds….I am able to work full time, but also have flexibility, which allows me to spend quality time with my family! I have been fortunate to work in a variety of settings, however, have found my niche in outpatient orthopedics. I currently work for Rehab Etc. in the Bartlett office of Tabor Orthopedics. I work with an awesome group of physicians and therapists, which certainly makes my job easier!

In looking back, CBU was a great choice for me. I received an excellent education while I was there, and it was the stepping stone I needed to be accepted into the P.T. program. I will always be grateful to the professors at CBU who influenced me in such a positive way!

Featured Alum: Minoli Perera, Pharm.D.,Ph.D., Biology 1997

I guess my story starts like many other immigrants; I was born in Sri Lanka, a small island in the Indian Ocean. My parents moved to the United States from Africa (a stop in their odyssey to Memphis). But we finally settled here and after a few years my story intersects with CBU. My time at CBU was fun and freeing and most of all good training for what was to come. I finished my BS in Biology in 1997 and started in the dual degree Pharm.D, Ph.D program at the University of Tennessee (just down the street). I remember graduate life as grueling. Not only was I taking all the regular Pharmacy classes, but I was also taking graduate class towards my Ph.D. In my last year in Pharmacy school, my Ph.D advisor moved to The Ohio State University. I finished my Ph.D in Ohio in 2003, and decided to pursue fellowship training. I really wanted something that would put both my clinical training and basic science skills to good use. I decided to join the Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacogenomics fellowship at the University of Chicago. This was an intense two years of learning Human Genetics (something I had not taken since my time at CBU) and a lot of advanced training on becoming a translational scientist. I am now on the faculty at the University of Chicago in the Department of Medicine. My research focuses on pharmacogenomics, basically how genetics can help predict how well a drug will work or who is more likely to get side effects. In between all the science I married a wonderful man and have one great little boy. We live in Chicago (right by Sox stadium, GO SOX). I really love the city and life in Chicago, though I miss the “winters” in Memphis.

Featured Alum: David Stegall, Ph.D., Physics 1994

When Professor Becker contacted me to request an essay for the CBU Newsletter, my first thought was to look for any fine print on the diploma regarding future homework assignments. To my great disappointment, no such homework clause exists, but that has not stopped me! I always found the faculty at CBU to be personable and engaging so I feel honored to be remembered in this manner. Actually, writing this article has offered me the opportunity to reminisce about my life and how persistent progress, accidental fortunes, and singular moments led to my current circumstances.

I believe that my parents would tell you that I was like every other rowdy boy in the neighborhood -sunburned from play during the summer and flinging snowballs at every opportunity that the winter in Memphis could provide. Old toys were not to be merely thrown away, but were subjected to total dissection. Batteries, speakers, or anything else worthy of extraction from an old radio were mine to eventually take to show and tell. I don’t think my parents were aware of everything that got disassembled but at least I never burnt the house down. Maybe I scorched a sink or two. If I could pinpoint a seminal moment, it would be the age of 13. Halley’s Comet was going to swing by that year. I was eminently aware that the next time it came, I probably would not be around to see it. Mark Twain had been born on one of the comet’s prior rendezvous with Earth and he managed to live just long enough to see it come around again. Although the thought was morbid, it placed a sense of urgency in me. I appreciated that there’s no moment to delay in learning and understanding the natural world around us. We may not get a second chance to not only witness, but participate in such rare cosmic spectacles. My destiny was sealed. I was not only going to see that comet with my naked eyes, but I was going to photograph it! From that moment, I became familiar with telescopes, astrophotography, and the requisite understanding in optics (at least as much as I understood with my middle school science). Astronomy and astrophotography were to become a launching pad into my career as an optical physicist.

When I first set foot into CBU in 1992, I was put at ease by the tone set by the CBU faculty. We had small classes and the professors were so much more accessible than at some of the larger schools that I previously attended. CBU was also unusual since it offered several upper level physics courses dedicated to the field of optics. Professors like Dr. Holmes and Dr. Varriano were fantastic at teaching me the skills that I would need to become an independent researcher. I can still recall the tedious hours of time spent in the optics and dark labs, exposing and developing optical filters for my senior project. It was this kind of discipline and experience that served me well when I began my PhD at the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester in 1994. However, I was certainly less prepared for the ten feet of snow per year that Rochester typically receives!

I wrapped up my dissertation in the fall of 2000. Under the tutelage of Professor Turan Erdogan, my dissertation delved into the topic of optical fiber Bragg gratings. You might recall that we were experiencing the arrival of the internet and the juggernaut of the .com industry. The optical fiber telecommunications industry was rapidly growing in the euphoria of the internet age and it led to my career in corporate research. In order to sustain the demand for high-speed internet bandwidth, there was a widely held belief that optical fiber communication systems were going to need to improve. I joined the laboratories at 3M, where they were developing optical fiber grating filters to serve a variety of functions – chromatic dispersion compensation, erbium-doped fiber amplifier filters, add/drop filters, etc. These were exciting times in my field. Of course, the optical telecommunications bubble burst very soon after the .com bubble’s demise and the mission of the 3M lab had to evolve.

A scanning electron micrograph of a square lattice photonic crystal fabricated with a 500 nm period

When handed a lemon, one should make lemonade. Thus, the lab adapted. The leading-edge technology that had been developed for make fiber gratings was not abandoned. For example, we had learned how to stitch together a modulation to the refractive index along the length of the fiber core such that errors were less than one part in a million. If the grating was to have a period of about one micron, then that period was accurate to within 10’s of nanometers over a length of a meter. Some fiber gratings were even longer than a meter – a cutting-edge achievement at the time. What could be done along one-dimension, we learned, could also be done along two. Consequently, the lab developed a method to fabricate two-dimensional sub-micron periodic structures over large areas. In some cases, such structures are referred to as photonic crystals. An example of such a structure is shown in the figure on the right. Photonic crystals naturally occur in nature and can be found on the wings of butterflies, the outer shells of diatoms ( a kind of plankton), and even in the hairs found on the leaves of plants, like the edelweiss. They have even been found in fossilized remains dating back hundreds of millions of years. A photonic crystal has the ability to manipulate light due to its periodic refractive index modulation. At 3M, I lead a project that is developing methods to mass-produce photonic crystals that will be used in organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). OLEDs are a developing technology that provide advantages over more traditional sources of light. They are made of organic materials, akin to plastics, and thus do not require nearly as complicated fabrication equipment as traditional inorganic semiconductor LEDs. They are dramatically more efficient than fluorescent lights and thus will be entering into the general lighting markets in a few years. Compared to LCD displays found in televisions, monitors, and cell phones, OLEDs are more efficient , more colorful, and ultimately simpler in construction. As a matter of fact, Samsung and LG are already selling cell phones using small OLED screens. 3M is in a unique position to mass produce a technology that permits OLEDs to emit light more efficiently by using photonic crystal films. We refer to these products as light extraction films. Without a light extraction film, most of the light generated within the OLED remains trapped due to internal reflections. Light extraction films provide a very fundamental modification to the internal geometry of an OLED that permits much more light to be emitted in directions that can escape the device. The benefit to a consumer would be longer battery usage time, a longer OLED display or lighting lifetime, and even a more satisfying distribution of the emitted light. Currently, we are still in the development stages of the product, but we have been getting very encouraging feedback from our prototypes to potential customers.

Featured Alum: Warren Turkal , Computer Science 2003

I graduated with a BS in Computer Science and a minor in Art in May of 2003. I have had quite a few interesting experiences and jobs since then and am now living in Campbell, California, part of Silicon Valley. I am also very involved in educating folks about free software (free as in freedom, please see http://www.fsf.org/ for more info). I have given talks to various groups and have engaged in consulting various companies on using free software.

Warren Turkal and his new son.

Shortly before I graduated I was summoned for jury duty at the Federal court in Memphis, TN. Originally, my service was scheduled for the same week as my finals, and I thought that conflict would get me out of it. I was wrong; I just got rescheduled. Considering that I didn’t have a job yet, I thought it would probably be an interesting experience, and I hoped I would get selected. I did, and I ended up serving as the foreman on a really interesting criminal case. After the defendant was convicted, he fled and became a fugitive. He was actually caught in late 2007.

My first job after college was as a contact Unix System Administrator at FedEx Services in Collierville, TN. I paid off all of my student loans during this contract. I strongly recommend avoiding student loans (and any other debt) if at all possible. During my FedEx contract, I actually interviewed for a contract position with Google in Atlanta to work in a data center, and failed to get hired. I actually paid one of my friends to drive to Atlanta so that I could try to rest on the way as I had to leave immediately after work to get there on time. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get much rest. We got to our hotel after midnight and with only a few hours to spare before the interview. Then, I woke up later than I wanted to. However, I feel that my greatest mistake was wearing a suit to the interview. I was interviewed by one guy with a backward hat, jeans, and a T-shirt, while the other fellow had on jeans and a casual shirt. Due to lack of rest, I blanked on some really simple computer trivia, and I was kicking myself the whole way back to Memphis as a result.

Back at FedEx, I eventually converted to a full-time employee, and my title became Technical Analyst. With this, I realized a goal from the time that I was a young teenager. One of my close family friends was an employee of FedEx, and I always wanted to be employed there. However, things didn’t work out so well there. While certain positions were almost certainly more interesting than mine, I found myself less and less motivated by my work as time went on. My manager also made my time there really unpleasant. I have some really good stories though. During most of my tenure at FedEx, I was also consulting with local businesses on IT issues involving Linux and other free software on the side. I ran a company called Penguin Techs during this time. I worked at FedEx at night and ran my business by day. Having gone as far as I felt that I could in my FedEx job, I quit for a job with a small web hosting company in Memphis in late October 2005. I was willing to go anywhere to get away from my group at FedEx. This new job only lasted for about two weeks.

I finally realized that I just needed to leave Memphis to take my career where I wanted, so I took a road trip to visit some of my family near Denver, Colorado. I applied for nearly every job for a Linux systems administrator in the greater Denver area while I was there. I received no callbacks during the trip, and headed back a couple weeks later. I then got a call from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, about a job as a Research Associate (actually a Linux systems administrator) for a small research group in the Department of Atmospheric Science. I flew out for the interview in December and started the job in the middle of January 2006. I also moved Penguin Techs to Colorado. It was a beautiful location, and I learned a lot by being the expert for all of our systems. I really enjoyed the Fort Collins area. My favorite part of the town was the local free software scene. There was a weekly group that I attended called Hacking Society that had a lot of really interesting people involved. While this group wasn’t strictly a free software group, there was a lot of discussion around that topic. I also had the opportunity to consult with an attorney on some computer forensics during my time in Fort Collins.

In early 2007, I was contacted by a recruiter at Google for a Site Reliability Engineer position in Mountain View, California. I was certainly surprised they called me back given my abysmal interview performance before, but I certainly was interested. After a long and arduous interview process, I found out that I had the job. I moved out to Campbell, California, and started in July 2007. I have one thing to say about this job. This is the best job I have ever had, by a long shot. I currently work with the infrastructure systems. I also have a few other projects on which I work that make up about 20% of my work. These projects are related to free software production or research and development of new technology. I also get to work with a lot of really great people. Some of the most notable include Ken Thompson (one of the creators of UNIX), Guido van Rossum (creator of the Python programming language), and Jeremy Allison (core developer for SAMBA). Shortly after I started at Google, I had the opportunity to address the Public Relation Society of America in Memphis. I got to talk about the future of mobile technology and where I thought it was headed. It was a really fun experience.

On July 4, 2008, I got married in Las Vegas, Nevada, with my wife’s and my family there. I got to drive a DeLorean back to my hotel that night. On October 9, 2009, Aerick Linus Turkal, my first son, was born. Things just keep getting better!

I would like to end with a little advice. Don’t ever stop looking for what makes you happy. I feel that my willingness to think outside my box has allowed me the opportunity to go much farther in my life and career than would have otherwise been possible, and I am very happy for that. Also, if you have an interest in free software, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email at wt@penguintechs.org with any questions.

Featured Alum: Raul Cardenas, M.D., Biology 1997

Raul with his lovely wife, Dr. Rowena DeSouza.

I was born in Memphis in 1975, probably while my dad was doing what I do today. My journey, so far, has taken me many places, but Memphis is still the one I remember with most fondness. I was raised in Merida, Mexico where I attended a Catholic high school. After finishing, I returned to Memphis at age 18 to obtain a college education. I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences with a minor in Chemistry from CBU, where I graduated with honors. In addition, I recall having a great time while at CBU. Afterwards, I attended Medical School in Nashville, TN where I received my medical degree in 2003, graduating near the top of my medical school class. I married my med-school sweetheart, Dr. Rowena DeSouza and, once my hectic life as a resident comes to an end, we wish to one day start a family. I credit her for all of my happiness today. After Med-school, I completed my surgical internship in 2004 at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, SC. Ever since then, I have been a Neurosurgery resident at LSUHSC-Shreveport, where I currently reside with my wife. Among other things, I have been the author of several publications and have also contributed to many scientific publication articles. I am a resident member of the Louisiana Neurosurgical Society, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and the Congress of Neurosurgical Surgeons. I am very proud to be a Physician, a third-generation Neurosurgeon and a CBU grad, and it means the world to me when I can return a patient back to his/her daily surroundings to have a meaningful and fulfilling life. Hopefully, my journey will bring me back to Memphis someday.

Featured Alum: Christen Gregory, 3rd year medical student, Biology 2005

Christen with her mother.

My name is Christen Gregory and I graduated from Christian Brothers University in 2005. Since then, I have gone on to work as a research technologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for two years before starting medical school at Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University. While at CBU, I was accepted to St. Jude’s Pediatric Oncology Education program for my senior research with the help of Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald. While I was there, I made several contacts and gained invaluable experience that ensured that I had a position waiting for me when I graduated from CBU. The lab skills and courses that I took as an undergraduate Biology major prepared me for my work as a research technologist.

After working at St. Jude for two years, I started medical school at Quillen. During these first two years, I have been involved in mostly didactic studies, including Gross Anatomy, Embryology, Physiology, Neuroscience, Microbiology/Parasitology, Biochemistry and Pathology. Surprisingly, I remember going into more detail during some of my undergraduate courses than we do in medical school! The volume of these medical school courses can be daunting, but my Biology degree from CBU really prepared me for what was to come and I owe a great debt of gratitude to all of my undergraduate professors!

At ETSU, I’ve been involved with a few extracurricular activities. I am currently serving as the vice-president of the Emergency Medicine Interest group, which educates medical students about the details of a career as an EM physician. I am also serving as a member of the Quillen Honor Council. This past summer, I worked as a student research fellow in the Quillen Dept. of Psychiatry. My mentor Dr. Norman Moore and I published an abstract entitled, “Visual and Auditory EEG biofeedback in Anxious Patients Compared with Healthy Controls” which will appear in the upcoming July issue of the EEG and Clinical Neuroscience Society Journal. I also presented this research at the joint EEG and Clinical Neuroscience Society / International Society for Neuroimaging in Psychiatry conference on September 7, 2008 in Frankfurt, Germany.

Featured Alum: Emily Biggs Rettinger, Pharm.D., Chemistry 2000

Emily with her husband and son

I graduated from CBU with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry in May 2000. In August of the same year, I started pharmacy school at UT Health Science Center. After finishing my first semester, I really felt like CBU had prepared me for the challenges that I had faced academically and in my day to day life, and I still feel that way today. I also became an active member of the professional pharmacy fraternity Phi Delta Chi and held the office of secretary my second year. I worked at St. Francis Hospital inpatient pharmacy to gain experience in a hospital setting. (I had previously worked for an independent and a chain pharmacy.)

In May of 2004, I graduated with honors and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. After receiving my license, I started working for SuperD, and I continue to work there today. I also continue to work for St. Francis on an as needed basis. I am a member of the Memphis Area Pharmacist Society, American Pharmacist Association (APhA), Tennessee Pharmacist Association (TPA), and the Christian Pharmacist Fellowship International (CPFI).

While attending pharmacy school, I met my husband, Paul, who also works for SuperD pharmacy here in Memphis. We have a 3 year old son, Matthew. We enjoy traveling, going to the Mississippi Riverking’s hockey games, and spending time with family. We are also members of First United Methodist Church.

Featured Alum: Stephen Wetick, O.D., Natural Science 2000

Stephen with wife Emilie at his graduation from the Southern College of Optometry.

Greetings Buccaneer community and science connoisseurs. It is an honor to be this month’s SOS featured alum. My name is Stephen Wetick and I have lived in Memphis for most of my life. I am a graduate of the CBU class of 2000. It took me 5 years to complete my degree, which at that time, earned me the nickname among my friends as the “5th-year senior.” As is the case with many high school graduates, I entered college not knowing what career to pursue. To be honest, this was an awkward stage in my life. I mean, just two years ago I was worrying about passing my driver’s exam, and now all of the sudden I’ve got to make decisions that will impact me for the rest of my life. “What do you like to do?” my parents would ask me. I would think to myself, “Well, I enjoy rockin out to Led Zeppelin, mountain biking, and hanging out with friends.” Needless to say, I knew this dream job did not exist. In the end, I relied on my inner voice to help me determine which career path to take. Something inside pulled me in the direction of becoming a healthcare provider. I guess the best way to describe it is an “innate sense.” Yes, I know this sounds strange, but at the same time I believe this is a unique ability we all possess. I am sure you can think of a time in your life when you did something for no rhyme or reason, other than the fact you knew it was the right thing to do.

College life at CBU was filled with a lot good times and some bad. I made several new friends, learned a ton of fascinating things in the classroom, and had many moments of fun and laughter. Some of the bad moments were results of me not applying myself hard enough, such as failing to turn in a paper on time, or receiving a poor grade on a test due to lack of preparation. Other tough moments included the death of a friend, the death of my grandmother, and my parents moving eight hours away due to a job transfer. Just as CBU was there to provide good times, CBU was there to help me through bad times. It was perhaps my professors, who helped me the most by providing a constant source of encouragement. I recall Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald really being able to connect with her students through her laid-back approach. Dr. Fitz made it seem as if there were not any limits to my capabilities as long as I set my mind to it. With this encouragement I found the strength to get through tough times—both in and out of the classroom. As a result, I left CBU with a sense of accomplishment, and even more important, confidence in my ability to overcome challenges and achieve any goal I set forth. I truly believe this would have not been the case had I attended a larger university where one is simply a “face in the crowd.”

After college, I obtained a job as a technician at a private eye care practice. A fellow CBU classmate also worked at the practice, which helped me tremendously in procuring the position. Eventually, I was accepted into optometry school and graduated from the Southern College of Optometry (SCO) in May of 2008. CBU gave me the foundation to get through courses such as optics, pharmacology, pathology, and neuro-ophthalmology. Thanks to confidence in my ability, I graduated with honors AND in four years (no more 5th-year senior!). I am currently pursuing an ocular disease residency at a co-management facility in Memphis. Working in a referral center provides for exciting and challenging days. You never know what problem you will have to face. The eye is an incredible structure—it has vascular, lymphatic, neurological, muscular, dermatological, and connective tissue components. This unfortunately means a lot of things can go wrong with the eye! Similar to my college experiencing, working in healthcare has a lot of good moments and bad ones. Helping someone get better is a wonderful feeling. Telling someone that their vision cannot be restored is not easy, but offering encouragement and help to overcome this obstacle can be just as rewarding.

Speaking of rewarding, my wife, Emilie, and I are expecting our first child on March 18th! Claire Cecille Wetick might have arrived by the time the March newsletter is released!! My plans after residency include becoming an associate at a practice or possibly returning to SCO as a didactic/clinic staff doctor. I truly enjoy patient care, but the idea of educating and providing guidance to optometry students is something I could see myself enjoying as well. It would most certainly give me an opportunity to provide students encouragement similar to what I received during my time at CBU. I honestly believe that attending CBU and pursuing studies with an emphasis in science was one of best choices I have ever made. For current students, I can assure you that the knowledge gained during your time at CBU will be heavily utilized in whatever career path you happen to take. I wish you all the best of luck.