MCO Ambassadors for Admissions
The MCO Student Ambassadors volunteer to serve their college by helping prospective students better understand academic and student life at MCO. They volunteer their time by providing tours of MCO, by organizing events to better explain optometry as a profession and by making presentations to college, high school and grade school students. Please feel free to e-mail the MCO Student Ambassadors with your questions — they are happy to share with you their experiences and passion for Optometry at MCO!


Third Year Students

Sarah SharrardSarah Sharrah 

I was born and raised in Michigan in the Bay City area. I completed my undergraduate here at Ferris State University, where I majored in biology with a pre-optometry focus, and ultimately received a BS in Vision Science through MCO. There are so many great opportunities to get involved at this school. I’m currently the president of the MOSA, and I’m also involved in SVOSH as an active member. I knew I wanted to be an optometrist before I was a teenager, and I have no doubts I made the right decision! This profession is extremely rewarding, and I’m so happy to be a part of it, and I feel so fortunate to be receiving an education from the best optometry school in the country. Feel free to contact me at any time at

Emily CarlsonEmily Carlson

I grew up in Wixom, Michigan and attended Ferris State University for my undergraduate studies. I received my Bachelor’s in Vision Science after completing my first year of optometry school. While at Ferris, I was involved in the Honors Program and the Pre-Optometry Club. I was also a pitcher for the Ferris State women’s softball team and played my senior season as a first year student at MCO. My interest for optometry began in elementary school when I would spend the day with my grandma at the small private practice where she was an optician. I loved going behind the scenes at the office and learning more about the profession from the optometrist she worked for. I chose MCO because of the state-of-the-art facilities, the small class sizes, and the small town feel. The faculty here at MCO is outstanding and my classmates have become some of my greatest friends. When I’m not at school, I love being outdoors… playing sports, mountain biking, paddleboarding, running, and spending time with my family and friends. I would love to answer any of your questions about MCO or life in Big Rapids! Please feel free to contact me at 

Navi HeharNavi Hehar

Hi! My name is Navi and I’m from Canton, MI.  I completed my undergraduate studies at Wayne State University where I majored in Honors Biology with a Co-Major in Honors.  After job shadowing some different professions I chose to follow the path to a profession in optometry.  The impact a person’s eye sight has on their quality of life is tremendous and I realized I wanted to be part of a profession that helps patients improve and maintain their vision.  I chose to come to MCO not only because of their brand new building and state of the art facilities, but also because the school has a low teacher to student ratio which you will not find at any other school in the country.  The faculty here are very friendly and are always available to help students.  There are many organizations at MCO, making it very easy to be involved with the school and the community.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me!

Emilie PhillipsEmelie Phillips

I grew up in Mason, Michigan and completed three years of undergraduate studies at Ferris State University. I earned my Bachelor of Vision Science upon completion of my first year at MCO. During my time at Ferris I was in the Honors Program, served on the executive board of the Pre-Optometry Club, and played intramural volleyball. I have always had a strong interest in science and pursuing a career in the medical field. I first became interested in Optometry after a job shadow I completed in high school. It was not long before I knew the profession was perfect for me. I chose MCO because of the welcoming faculty, small class sizes and state-of-the-art facility. I love the small school atmosphere because it allows students and faculty to work closely together and build positive, lasting relationships. MCO offers plenty of ways to become involved with a variety of student organizations and annual events allowing great networking opportunities. Currently I am the President Elect for MOSA and a member of AOSA and MOSPPA. When I am not studying I enjoy spending time with family and friends. Please contact me at if you have any questions!

Morgan SchuitemMorgan Schuiteman

Hi everyone, my name is Morgan Schuiteman. I was lucky enough to grow up in a small northern Michigan town on Lake Huron, called Rogers City. Growing up, I was immersed in the medical profession with my father being the local veterinarian. I loved the idea of helping others, but instead of animals, I wanted to work with the people. After shadowing my local optometrist, I knew that optometry was the perfect profession for me as I could build individual relationships with each of my patients. I attended Saginaw Valley State University for undergrad where I received my Bachelors of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry. While in undergrad I was involved in student government, alternative breaks doing community service, residential life as a resident assistant, and Foundation scholars. I chose MCO because of the small class size, the highly accessible professors, and the state of the art facility. I would be happy to answer any questions or concerns that you may have about life here in Big Rapids and MCO.   

Michael DeWitMichael DeWit

My path to MCO was a little different than the ‘norm.’ I graduated from Calvin College in 2008 with a degree in business, and then worked full time in retail management for about 2.5 years. At that point in my career I knew that retail was not for me.  I had been thinking about optometry off and on for several years, and I decided that it was time to make optometry my new career goal. To do so, however, I had to go back to school to complete three semesters worth of prerequisites (business majors don’t have to take many science courses…). All my efforts to get into optometry school were aimed at MCO - I had been thoroughly impressed with the faculty I had met, the small class size, the low student : doctor ratio and the brand new facility. I’m now in my second year and currently serve as a class representative and as the Optometric Student Government President-Elect. I absolutely love it here at MCO and I’m certain you will too! Please feel free to contact me with any questions you have - I’d be happy to talk to you! 

Neil PatelNeil Patel

I undertook my undergraduate studies at Ferris State University, where I took the usual route of many pre-optometry students and majored in Biology. During my time here at Ferris I was involved at the University Eye Center for two years, initially by volunteering my time and later as a hired optician. Working with doctors and optometry students in the clinic really helped solidify my interest in the field of optometry. MCO’s family-like environment and small class sizes really put the icing on the cake for me. Currently, as a 2nd year student, I am the treasurer of the Student VOSH chapter where we provide eye care to underprivileged nations. My ultimate goal as a future optometrist is to practice overseas in a developing country and really make an impact in this field. But, it all starts here at MCO!!! Please feel free to contact me with any/all questions you might have-I’d love to help! 

Elyse KleifgenElyse Kleifgen

My hometown is Minocqua, WI and I graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a B.S in biology. During my undergraduate career I worked as a student researcher in a veterinarian opthalmology lab. I always wanted to do something science related, and between researching eyes and shadowing a local optometrist, I was hooked on optometry. MCO has only furthered my excitement about being an optometrist and being on the frontier of eye care. I chose MCO because of the state-of-art equipment, a great student/doctor ratio, and the award winning faculty. Currently I am a member of OSG, MOSA/AOSA, MOSSPA, and I also participate in many intramural teams with my classmates. Please email me with any questions you have!

Trevor FossoTrevor Fosso

I attended Bethel University in St. Paul, MN, where I completed a double major in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Chemistry. I grew up in the middle of farm country in Minnesota, and found that MCO was the perfect fit for me as an optometry school as it is in a smaller community and has smaller class sizes. The smaller class sizes allow more one on one time with the faculty as well as more opportunity to develop good friendships with everyone in the class. I enjoy the area because it offers a lot to do outside when I have free time such as biking, volleyball, hiking, camping and fishing. I also enjoy being involved in the school and various programs available here such as AOSA, MOSPPA, and am the current liaison elect for AOA-PAC. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions regarding school or the area.  e-mail:

Rebecca DeWittRebecca DeWitt 

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to become an optometrist. I first went to the eye doctor in grade school, in my hometown of Chesterfield, Michigan. I loved the huge impact that optometrists made on their patients' lives by improving their gift of sight. I attended Grand Valley State University for my undergraduate education. Upon completion of my time there I received two degrees; one in Cell and Molecular Biology and the other in Biomedical Sciences. I knew I wanted to attend MCO because it allowed me to stay relatively close to home, while providing me with a low student to doctor ratio, in a cutting edge, state of the art facility. I applied to MCO's early admission program at the end of my junior year at GVSU and was accepted the following July. I am currently a member of many groups and societies here at MCO, including: AOSA, MOSA, OSG, MOSSPA and the Beta Sigma Kappa Honor Society. I love it here at MCO! Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have! 

Michael RuthvenMichael Ruthven

I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and completed my undergraduate studies at Ferris State University. From a young age I knew the health field was where I wanted to establish my career. My passion for optometry started when I shadowed in the office of family friend and MCO Alum. What stood out to me that day, and what continues to excite me about this profession are the personal relationships you are able to create with your patients. By spending the extra time with them we are able to provide an exceptionally high level of care. Here at MCO, I have the privilege of being the AOSA Trustee-Elect, through which I have been very involved at school and with optometry on a national level. My biggest highlight is how from day one you are brought into the "MCO Family", and with the small class sizes and professors who are dedicated to your success, there is no better place to become a Doctor of Optometry! If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at

Kevin LebermanKevin Liberman

I’m from the township of West Bloomfield, Michigan, which is located in the metropolitan Detroit area.  For my undergraduate studies, I attended Michigan State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering.  My decision to pursue a career in optometry was mostly influenced by my dad, who is an optometrist and currently owns his own practice.  MCO has proven to be a fantastic choice to attend optometry school due to its low student to doctor ratio and an excellent facility that is filled with the latest optometry equipment, along with many other amenities an optometry student may find useful.  With all that MCO has to offer, I believe I am receiving the best optometry education possible.  If you have any questions about MCO, living in Big Rapids, or optometry school in general, feel free to contact me!

Erica HugheyErica Hughey

I attended Western Michigan University for my undergraduate education, where I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Chemistry. I grew up in the small town of Vicksburg, Michigan just south of the Kalamazoo area.  Comfortable with the small-town feel, I knew MCO was the right choice for me.  The small class sizes and the doctor to student ratio of 1:2 make a huge difference. The faculty at MCO is exceptional and has only affirmed my decision to study optometry here. Learning from the best doctors in a state-of-the-art facility is such a blessing. I absolutely love studying optometry here at MCO and I know you will too! Please contact me with any questions or concerns you may have at

Kristin Bratek

Hello everyone!  I grew up in Clawson, MI, a small city in the metro Detroit area. I graduated from Wayne State University with a B.S. in Mathematics. While pursuing my degree in mathematics I also focused on the sciences, and realized I wanted to pursue a career in the health professions. Optometry was really appealing to me not only because vision is such an important aspect of one's life, but also because optometrists get to form and maintain strong doctor-patient relationships. This is such a rewarding part of the profession. MCO offers so many benefits for its students. These benefits include small class sizes, a new state-of-the-art facility, and faculty that put a lot of time and effort into making sure each student gets the best education possible. Let's also not forget the fun events that the MCO organizations put on for all of the students including:  "Eye-ball",  a broomball tournament, and Optic Cup!  I couldn't be happier with my decision to attend MCO and join the profession of optometry. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have at

Joshua Byers

Hello! I attended Ferris State University for my undergraduate studies, where I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. I was a member of the Pre-Optometry Club at FSU, which was an awesome source of information about optometry school, as well as the profession of optometry in general. MCO is a great school, because in addition to their brand new facility and all of the latest technological instruments, they also have an awesome set of professors who work closely with each student! Feel free to contact me with any questions about MCO, Big Rapids, or the profession of Optometry! 

Marie Humphrey

I attended Michigan State University, where I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Supply Chain Management. After working for a corporate company in health care, I decided that I wanted to be the one providing health care to patients. Ultimately, the dream of having my own private practice is what led me to optometry. MCO is the perfect fit for you if you want to receive a world-class education with some of the brightest minds in the field of optometry today. Small class sizes, with a 1:2 professor/student ratio, enables you to learn so much during your 4 years at MCO. I love the family atmosphere that the faculty, staff, and other students provide constantly. I am beyond happy with my decision to study optometry at MCO, and can’t wait to become an optometrist! Please contact me with any questions or concerns that you may have at



Second Year Students 

 Gabrielle Smiley

My attraction to this field was sparked long before I knew what the profession really was; having been near-sighted since elementary school, I gradually became aware of how well my vision was looked after by my local optometrist. A Wisconsin native, I crossed the border to Minnesota after high school and completed my undergraduate studies in Physiology at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. A two-year internship under an optometrist there further solidified my desire to join the profession. I currently serve as class representative and recently completed a summer research internship at the Eye Center in contact lenses. In my time so far at MCO, I have enjoyed the newly customized facility and the willingness of the faculty to nurture my ever-growing optometric curiosities. Having my “Michigan family” of classmates is just another amazing feature of the small class sizes here. Please contact me with any questions on why I am loving my experience at MCO!

 Lindsay Kleinschmit

I grew up in Shelby Twp., MI, which is just north of Detroit. I received my degree from Ferris State University where I majored in Biology/Pre-Optometry. Optometry has interested me since high school, when I decided to job shadow my local optometrist. I knew I wanted to have a career in the medical field, and optometry seemed to be the perfect fit for me. Since then, I have volunteered and worked at a variety of different practices. I chose MCO because of the small class size and the new, state of the art building. I definitely made the right choice! The teachers are great, and there are a lot of different ways to get involved through the various student organizations. If you have any questions about MCO or Big Rapids, feel free to contact me at

 Shannon Crane

My Hometown is West Bloomfield Michigan, where at a young age I became fascinated with science and the medical field.  It was in high school that my sister working as an optician sparked my interest to pursue optometry.  I completed my undergraduate studies in Biomedical science at Central Michigan University. Fire Up Chips!  While attending Central I stayed busy, being involved in Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity, CMU pre-optometry club, and conducted research on the habitat utilization of bat species.  I chose MCO because of my ability to stay involved in great organizations such as SVOSH, Vision Rehab Club, and many others.  I was also drawn to MCO because of the small class sizes and the collaborative and family atmosphere of the school.  The beautiful state of the art facility is an added bonus!  When I am not studying I enjoy IM sports, disc golfing, snowboarding, watching movies, and playing trivia.  If you have any questions feel free to contact me at

 Felicia Slate

Hi, my name is Felicia Slate and I’m from the small town of Hesperia, MI. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was in elementary school, and I have always looked forwarding to seeing my optometrist every year. I knew early on that optometry was the profession for me. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a Pre-Optometry track from Ferris State University. While at Ferris, I competed on both the Cross Country and Track teams. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to continue my education at the Michigan College of Optometry. With the small student to faculty ratio, the state of the art facility, and the family atmosphere I’m confident that I made the right decision. Here at MCO, we have many student organizations and opportunities for leadership positions. Besides being a Student Ambassador, I am also the secretary for the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) and an active member in SVOSH, MOSA, and MOSPPA. When I’m not at school I love to run, kayak, ski, and hang out with my friends and family. I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have!

 Morgan Baker

Hello, and welcome to MCO!  I’m from Spring Lake, Michigan, located on the shore of beautiful Lake Michigan.  I attended Grand Valley State University for undergrad majoring in Biomedical Sciences and minoring in Spanish.  I became interested in optometry after my first eye exam as a teen, when I realized I could have a career in an innovative medical field and still have a family life.  Choosing that career path also prompted me to join several groups in undergrad such as Pre-Optometry club, Lions Club, and a Science Leadership Society.  As president of the GV Lions Club I was able to volunteer and help the visually impaired and blind and I loved it!  With this career path I hope to use my knowledge of Spanish and skills as an optometrist to better serve my community and those less fortunate in need of proper health care.  One of the reasons I chose to attend the Michigan College of Optometry was because there were many opportunities to participate in organizations related to my field.  I also appreciated the fact that MCO has held onto their principle of maintaining a small class size to faculty ratio.  Being in an optometry program can be difficult, but fortunately, the faculty and classmates always make you feel at home.  I am proud to be a part of the MCO family!

Ross DuMonthier

I grew up in the upper peninsula of Michigan where I attended Michigan Technological University for my first year of my undergraduate career before transferring to Ferris State.  Once at Ferris I completed my BS in Biology.  My interest in optometry was sparked when I acquired a severe childhood esotropia at 5 years old.   During summer breaks while at Ferris I would travel back to the UP to work and shadow my local optometrist.  The same doctor who I had seen since I was 4 years of age.  Shadowing him is when my love for optometry really took off.  While at MCO there are great facilities that we as students have the opportunity to use.  I am extremely grateful to have been given the chance to access them.

Samantha Gagnon

I attended Hope College for my undergraduate studies where I received a BA in Biology with a Psychology minor. I discovered my passion for eyes later on in my undergraduate career when I took my first modern physics course and learned about optics. After shadowing a wonderful optometrist in my hometown, I knew that I wanted to make optometry my future. Six short months later I was taking my OAT and applying to optometry schools and soon after that I was given a seat in Michigan College of Optometry’s class of 2017. MCO truly has become my home and my classmates and its faculty my family. If you have questions about anything, feel free to shoot me and email!