ICO SPOTLIGHT: Get to Know SJ Lee!
“And now, here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” – The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
SJ is a first-year student here at ICO and such a hard worker. SJ came to the United States in 2006 from South Korea. Even though she moved around the country a lot thereafter, she calls Atlanta, Georgia home. Coming from a background of business, she discovered her love for optometry by fate and found great comfort in the practice. “Through a multitude of fortunate and unfortunate random events, the main ones being my mom’s third divorce, cancer diagnosis, and my own hospitalization, I remember constantly working 2-3 jobs- up to 100 hours a week- on top of school. One of the places I worked was a private practice. The owners of the practice and the doctor gave me a sense of stability and encouragement during especially difficult times that I will be forever thankful for.”
Working in this private practice inspired SJ so much that she knew optometry was the perfect means for her to make an impact on someone else’s life. “I really wanted to pursue optometry and make it here… not just to prove myself, but also so that I would have the ability and strength to help others who are struggling and lost.”
Not only is SJ a determined individual, but she also has a huge heart, especially for food and animals! She has 4 dogs who she loves to spoil. Her favorite food is Korean BBQ, and when she cooks, she makes enough to be able to sneak her furry friends some leftovers.
Her biggest piece of advice for anyone about to begin the process of applying to optometry school is to never let fear hold you back. “If you have ever seen the passion and unwavering work ethic of current optometrists, you will know that there is nothing to be afraid of. Do expect to put in lots of work, but that’s what it makes it make so much more gratifying! Start the process early by working with optometrists in different environments. Take advantage of those with experience because they always have something valuable to teach you. Don’t be afraid to ask!”