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Transitioning From Television Reporter to Optometrist: Persistence Pays Off


Diana Nguyen, SCCO, ’19, worked for three years as a television reporter after graduating from San Jose State University. She covered some exciting stories, but also depressing ones.

“Whatever bleeds leads,” Nguyen says of the oft-quoted mantra describing television news.

She chose to go into optometry because it is a helping profession, and one in which patients don’t fear visiting their doctor like they often do visiting a dentist or surgeon.

“They come in excited to see you because you can make a big difference in their everyday life,” she says, adding that she chose the field after working in her aunt’s optometry office in Sacramento, Calif.

But Nguyen says her journey to optometry school was challenging. Before applying to SCCO, she needed to return to school to take her prerequisite math and science classes. It took three years because she couldn’t always get the classes she needed for post-baccalaureate students.

Nguyen persisted and was accepted to SCCO. Once here, she experienced a rough transition, she says. She had been taking prerequisite classes at UC Berkeley and at a local community college, which were both on the semester system, as was San Jose State. SCCO is on the quarter system and the pace of learning is faster.

“It was hard to adjust. We sometimes had tests two times a week,” she says, adding that she eventually adjusted and worked to change her learning style.

“There were always times when I felt like I can’t make it through this. But I always fought and worked as hard as I could,” she says.

“Since I was able to make it through all of the obstacles to this point, it makes me feel as though I have the strength to accomplish anything in the future,” says Nguyen.

Nguyen credits her persistence and her SCCO professors for much of her success. “The professors have been amazing. They go out of their way to help you,” she says.

“They make themselves available. Some even give out their cellphone numbers right before exam days for any last-minute questions.”

The work has been hard, but she knows she made the right choice in profession, she says. She hopes to work in private practice and one that is on the smaller side so she can take more time with patients.

“I want to give comprehensive, thorough exams,” she says, “so the patients know the full scope of any ocular problems they might have.”

She grew up in the San Jose area and plans to stay in California. In her free time she plays electric guitar and surfs.

“I practice guitar during study breaks,” she says. And her advice to other students who may be experiencing a tough transition?

“Don’t give up,” she says. “There have been so many times where I wanted to give up, but I accomplished so much by believing in myself.”