MCO Ambassadors for Admissions

Third Year Students

Alexander Groth

I completed my undergraduate degree at Alma College earning a B.S. with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry. I decided a wanted to be a medical professional after taking Anatomy and Physiology in high school and becoming fascinated with the human body but didn't decide upon optometry until having an in depth conversation with my optometrist and shadowing experience. It didn't take long for me to realize that MCO was the right choice and the perfect fit for me. Coming from Alma I was looking for small class sizes and the ability to develop more personal relationships with my professors and that is exatly what I get and I couldn't be happier.

Alyssa Drew

I see optometry as a field of exciting opportunities and I am so happy to be a part of it! I had optometry in mind just before starting my undergraduate studies at Hope College in Holland, MI. After job shadowing different doctors I saw one commonality between them all- the doctors loved their job! It was the positive environment and rewarding results that motivated me to pursue a career in optometry. I am very happy with my experience at MCO so far because of the numerous opportunities to explore and get directly involved with the different aspects of optometry. Plus, I am able to do it with a strong community of faculty and students. I am the trustee elect for AOSA, member of the SVOSH missions group and enjoy other activities the school hosts. If you have any questions please email me at

Amber Cumings

I attended Ferris State University for my undergraduate studies, where I initially started with a Biology/Pre-Optometry major until I was accepted into the Early Admissions Program. I then completed my bachelors of Vision Science through the Michigan College of Optometry in my first year of graduate studies. My desire to become an Optometrist started around middle school when we had our first career fair. I’ve had glasses since early childhood so it was something I wanted to get to know a little better early on. Upon starting optometry school, I got involved immediately with becoming one of my class’ representatives and joining several organizations. I’ve always known that MCO would be the only option for my optometric career and now that I’m attending, I’m completely satisfied with the environment. Being part of such a welcoming and caring college has made my experience outstanding. Please feel free to email me regarding any questions you have about the college or Big Rapids in general!

Courtney Schneider

Hello!  I’m from Port Sanilac MI, which is a small town on Lake Huron.  I started wearing glasses in early elementary school and I’d have to say that’s when I became interested in optometry. I was amazed when my headaches and eye strain disappeared while reading at school after putting my first pair of glasses on.  After high school I went on to study human biology at Michigan State University. At MSU I devoted much of my free time to the MSU pre – optometry club as vice president. I also worked for Lens Crafters, where I was first exposed to the optometric field.  When it came time to pick an optometry school, I knew MCO was the right choice for me because of the family atmosphere.  Everyone is very close, and professors are willing to go out of their way to not only help you, but make you feel at home.

 Derek DakeDerek Dake

I am Derek Dake, and I am a part of the Michigan College of Optometry Class of 2018.  Prior to my time at MCO, I received a B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Physiology from Northern Michigan University in Marquette.  I am originally from Newberry, a small town in the Upper Peninsula.  I am involved in many different student organizations at MCO, and I am currently the treasurer for SVOSH.  I chose optometry as a profession because I have been interested in eyes since my first eye exam.  Prior to my time at MCO, I worked as a tech at an optometry office for 3 summers. MCO was an obvious choice for me because of the professors, building, and small class sizes.  In my free time I watch sports, play intramurals, and tube down the Muskegon River.  If you have any questions about MCO or Big Rapids, you can contact me at

 Derek DakeDerek Williams

Hello! I am from Standish, MI which is a small town north of Saginaw. I attended Saginaw Valley State University for my undergraduate studies where I majored in biology. I first became interested in optometry in high school when I job shadowed a local optometrist. In the field of optometry, I like that doctors get to know their patients on a personal level and can improve their quality of life in many ways. Currently, I am a 3rd year student here at MCO and I really enjoy the small class sizes. Instructors are always available to help you during classes/labs and to answer any questions outside of class. If you would like to know more about the MCO, optometry student organizations, or optometry school in general my email address is

James CoonJames Coon

My name is James Coon and I received my Bachelors of Science from the University of Dayton in May 2013. I took 1 year to study for the MCAT, OAT and GRE. In that time I shadowed a dozen doctors to decide on what appealed most to me. After shadowing five optometrists I decided to take the OAT. After taking the OAT in the fall, I worked as a technician for Shoreline Vision for eight months. In that time I performed numerous procedures that an OD performs on a daily basis. This experience made me realize that I would be best fit as an OD. Big Rapids is a small town, but MCO brings so much life. We are an open arms school with brand new state of the art facilities; I mean we have outlets in our massive lockers. If you have any questions in regards to the program, housing, social happenings, local eateries and recreation feel free to contact me at or a text message at 313-529-8168. Go Bulldogs!

John Chrustowski

I am from the Metro Detroit area. I attend Ferris State University and received a degree in Vision Science. I became interested in optometry from a summer job working for an optometrist.  I worked there for four summers and I became more interested in the profession every summer. MCO is a great place to learn how to be an optometrist.  Besides school, it is also a great place to make friends with your future colleagues.  If you have any questions about MCO or the Big Rapids area feel free to email me.

Jonathon Connors

I attended Northern Michigan University where I majored in Biology with emphasis in human physiology. I really became interested in Optometry after listening to a story told by an OD that I was shadowing. She told me about a young child that was having problems in school. He had pretty much given up and began to act out. It turned out that this child had never been to an Optometrist and was found to be legally blind. After getting the help he needed, both his grades and behavior completely changed for the better. Initially, MCO was my first choice of schools mainly because it was in Michigan. Now that I have spent some time here I am really glad I chose this school. Small class sizes, amazing faculty, new building, and an overall wonderful atmosphere make MCO a great place to attend.

Kristen Johnson

Hi and welcome to MCO, my name is Kristen and I grew up in Sarnia, Ontario AND Lexington, Michigan (just north of Port Huron)!  I completed my Bachelor of Science at the University of Western Ontario, in London Ontario, where I majored in Biology.  I’ve known that Optometry was the right fit for me since I was 8 years old which was the first time I’d ever seen an Optometrist and the first time I’d ever seen the world around me look so clear. Making the decision to come to MCO was easy for me – the building is beautiful, the class sizes are small, the faculty are the most helpful people you could ever hope to meet, and the students are fantastic.  In addition to being a student ambassador, I am also President-Elect for SVOSH, and Liaison-Elect for the Vision Rehab Club!  MCO is a great place to learn and get involved!  If you have any questions about MCO, Big Rapids, or Optometry school in general, feel free to contact me any time at

Madeleine Hacker

I am from Milwaukee, WI and I received my BS in Microbiology from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. I knew that I wanted to pursue a graduate degree, but it wasn’t until my final year of my undergraduate program that I began considering optometry. After graduating I took a year off to shadow a few optometrists and research the profession, and what I found was an underlying passion for optometry. It’s the perfect balance of science and patient interaction, and you’re able to make an impact on people’s lives on a daily basis. MCO has great faculty and a wonderful facility, and I truly believe that they offer the best optometric education. Plus there are plenty of student events for you to participate in when you need a break from studying. (I hope you like free food!) Feel free to email me with any questions!

Matthew Black

I am from the Grand Rapids area. I graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2011 where I majored in Biomedical Science and minored in Chemistry. After graduating I took a break from school and worked in a blood bank laboratory for two years. However, I had always planned on coming back to school for optometry. I think this profession is a unique confluence of science, business, and fashion, all of which I’m very passionate about. MCO has been a great fit for me because of the small class sizes, the personal interaction with the faculty, and the state of the art facility. Feel free to email me with any questions you may have!

Stacy Boguszewski

Hello!  My name is Stacy Boguszewski and I am from Grand Rapids, MI.  I always knew I wanted to go into the medical field, but it was during a high school anatomy course where I decided to look into optometry. Working in an optometry practice for more than five summers solidified my interest in this as a career.  I attended Aquinas College where I majored in Biology and received a minor in Chemistry.  I knew MCO was the perfect fit for me based on the small class sizes and the state of the art building and technology, as well as professors who are always willing to help.  MCO offers many opportunities to get involved and provides a fun environment for learning and pursuing this wonderful career!  Feel free to contact me with any questions!

Stephanie BergeStephanie Berge

My interest in optometry was sparked when I was prescribed my first pair of glasses at the age of five. While at first I was apprehensive, my optometrist opened my eyes to the wonderful benefits of wearing glasses.  Looking back on that moment, I am forever grateful of his patience.  As I grew older, I found myself always enjoying my yearly visit to my optometrist.  At the age of sixteen, I realized that optometry was the field for me. I obtained my BS in Biology from Ferris State University.  I decided to attend the Michigan College of Optometry because of its outstanding reputation and small class size. Every member of the MCO faculty and staff genuinely cares about your learning experience and well-being.  I am proud to be a part of this wonderful field and thankful for the opportunity to attend MCO for my optometric education. Feel free to contact me with any questions!


Second Year Students

Allegra Babiarz

Hi! Welcome to the beginning of your incredible academic and clinical journey at the Michigan College of Optometry. Every day that I am in class I realize just how spectacular the human visual system is. There is a communal passion for eyeballs in this school, and I am no exception. I grew up in Elk Rapids, MI and attended Ferris State University ever since then. I was an Early Admit / 3+4 applicant to the Michigan College of Optometry, so even my Bachelor's degree in Vision Science is from MCO at Ferris. Optical illusions and ocular anatomy has been the peak of my interest ever since I was little, and now I am experiencing the great opportunity of turning those interests into a career to help hundreds of thousands of people with their daily lives. The faculty at MCO is excellent, and their personal dedication and work that they put in to each lecture and class is incomparable to anything I have previously experienced. I am very active with my fellow classmates in playing intramural sports. I am also involved at MCO in different groups including: the Michigan Optometric Student Association, the American Optometric Student Association, the American Academy of Optometry with which I am currently applying for student fellowship, and I am part of the Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity where we travel overseas to help deliver eye care to impoverished areas. I am excited to help welcome you to our school, please email me with any questions at

Andrew Bringard

Hello my name is Drew Bringard and I am from Lexington Michigan, a small town in the thumb of Michigan located on Lake Huron. I attended Ferris State University for my undergraduate studies where I received two Bachelors Degrees: a B.S. Biology and a B.A. Chemistry. I became interested in Optometry while I was doing my undergraduate studies here at Ferris. I always knew I wanted to go into the Medical field because I was interested in sciences and helping people. Optometry became my final choice when I did some summer job shadowing with an optometrist and instantly I knew this was the career for me. Feel free to contact me at

Ariel Pscheidl

I graduated from Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s in biomedical sciences and American Sign Language. My passion for optometry was sparked in middle school, and I’m excited to be working towards making it my career. I’m involved heavily with Special Olympics of Michigan – Opening Eyes: a program that provides free vision screenings and glasses to the Special Olympics athletes. MCO is a great school where you’re sure to excel as you learn how to provide personal and professional eye care to your future patients. Don’t hesitate to email me – my inbox is always open!

Ben Lawless

I am from Portland, MI and I attended Ferris State University, where I obtained by BS in Biology. I have been interested in the field of optometry since about the fifth grade. My interest in optometry is driven by my lifelong ocular problems; I have worn glasses since I was a baby. Finally, my interest was solidified by my work in an optometrist’s office in undergrad and by visiting MCO. I knew MCO was my school of choice because of the small class sizes, family atmosphere and the state of the art building. After more than a year at MCO, I can say that there is no better place to finish my studies. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to contact me at

Charlotte Love

Hello, my name is Charlotte Love and I am from Milford, Michigan. I graduated from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. My interest in optometry started from working at an optometry office and working at the Eye Research Institute at Oakland University. My undergraduate research was published two times, and I decided to continue my interests for vision science and optometry at MCO. In undergrad I was president of Global Medical Brigades and went on three medical relief trips to Central America. I decided to come to Ferris because it has the newest facilities, small class sizes and still somewhat close to home. Ferris offers many opportunities to its students so I can continue my passion for research and volunteering on medical trips abroad. I am on the SVOSH e-board and this past summer I enjoyed working at MCO continuing vision research with Dr. Raghunandan. If you have any questions about MCO or Big Rapids feel free to contact me at

James Kaltz

Hi! I’m James Kaltz and I am from Kent City, Michigan which is a very small town half an hour north of Grand Rapids. I became interested in Optometry when I received my first pair of glasses in the fourth grade. It was not until I did a research project in the ninth grade that I truly fell in love with this field. I was very intrigued by the idea of making my own hours and seeing a wide variety of patients and eye conditions. I graduated from Sparta High School and attended Ferris State University for my undergraduate studies where I was very active in the Pre-Optometry Club and the Student Alumni Gold Club. I entered MCO through the 3+4 Program and upon completing my first year of studies was awarded a Bachelor of Science in Vision Science. I am an active member of the AOA, MOA, and SVOSH. I really enjoy the small class sizes here at MCO, the state-of-the-art building, and the opportunity to go on a mission trip in my third year through SVOSH. If you have any questions about Big Rapids, the 3+4 Program, or anything else feel free to contact me at!

Justin Ullrey

I did my undergraduate studies at Ferris State University, where I majored in biology with a focus on Pre-Optometry studies. I was able to complete my required undergraduate courses in three years and I applied to MCO through the 3+4 program. I am the President- elect for the Optometry Student Government at MCO. My desire to become an optometrist began during my freshman year of high school when I began to research careers. I see optometry as a great way to help people and a hands on profession where we can see our patients from start to finish. I have been working at optometry offices for the last four summers and I have been very fortunate to have been mentored by some great doctors. Being an MCO student is an incredible experience! The desire to help and push the students that the faculty possesses leads to a first rate experience. Feel free to email me with any questions you would have!

Kathleen Bott

Hello! My name is Kathleen Bott and I am from Traverse City, Michigan. Prior to attending Michigan College of Optometry I received my Bachelors in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience from The University of Michigan where I was a member of the pre-optometry club. I first got interested in Optometry at a young age due to being a patient and experiencing first-hand how much of an impact vision has on daily life. Working at a corporate optometry office and lab I have further expanded my knowledge in the field and fell in love with my future profession even more. Here at MCO I am a trustee-elect for the Michigan Optometric Student Association and treasurer for Optometry Student Government. I knew MCO was the right choice for me because of all the amazing clubs for students to get in involved in, the outstanding academics and state of the art equipment, and the awesome faculty that make you feel right at home. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at

Kevin Leahy

My home town of Traverse City, MI is where my interest for optometry started. I learned about the eye in a middle school biology class, shadowed local optometrists in high school, and eventually was able to tour MCO. Going on the tour, meeting such welcoming doctors, and seeing all the exciting aspects that go into creating such an awesome profession solidified my decision to pursue optometry. I then committed to attending Ferris State University where I initially majored in Biology/Pre-Optometry. After I was accepted into the 3+4 Early Admissions Program, I was then able to receive a bachelors degree in Vision Science upon completing my first year in the graduate program. MCO is not only a great place to pursue your career as an optometrist, but a great place to get involved, meet future colleagues, and make lifelong friends! If you have any questions, feel free to contact any time at

Kristina Aikens

I am originally from Fargo, North Dakota and attended Concordia College in Minnesota where I majored in biology. I have known optometry was the career for me since the beginning of my undergraduate studies, but was able to confirm this passion through working at an optometry clinic and shadowing various optometrists. Once I came to MCO and saw the facility and state-of-the-art environment, I knew this was where I wanted to learn! The faculty, administrators, and students at MCO are friendly and welcoming, which was a great transition from my small undergrad campus. I am involved as Secretary of Optometry Student Government, Secretary of Fellowship of Christian Optometrists, student research, and member of various other student organizations – including intramurals! Our second year team is hoping to take the volleyball title this year! My husband and I have enjoyed our first year in Big Rapids and becoming Michiganders. Feel free to contact me with any questions at

LeAnne Barstow

Hi! My name is LeAnne Barstow, and I am from Gladstone, a small town in Michigan's beautiful upper peninsula. I attended Ferris State University for my undergraduate education in Biology. I was accepted into Michigan College of Optometry's 3+4 Admissions program and completed my Bachelor's of Vision Science degree after my first year of graduate studies. The 3+4 Admissions program is one of the many reasons MCO was the perfect choice for me. I also love the ideal location, small class sizes, awesome faculty, and beautiful building. MCO is a wonderful place to learn about optometry both in and outside the classroom. In addition to being a student ambassador, I am President-Elect of Fellowship of Christian Optometrists, Community Service Chair of Optometry Student Government, and a member of various other organizations that help you learn more about the profession and build friendships among future colleagues. If you have any questions about life at MCO or Ferris State, please feel free to contact me at

Luke Lirones

I attended Central Michigan University for my undergraduate studies, where I worked diligently on my General Biology major and Business Administration minor. At CMU, I was not only involved in the Science and Technology Residential College, but was also deeply associated with the marching and jazz bands, along with a volunteer program called Global Brigades. My summers were spent playing in a garage band, working at a marina and kitchen spice store, as well as restoring my 1977 Datsun 280Z. Since my passion for Optometry began in 7th grade, I strived for acceptance into the Michigan College of Optometry’s 3+4 program, and fortunately, I was accepted a year early. Once admitted into MCO, I’ve been honored with the role of President-Elect of SVOSH. MCO has been nothing but a dream come true! I’m hard-pressed to believe that there are better facilities, faculty, or peers around! Please feel free to contact me at!

Mindy Harrington

I was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula and earned my BS in Biological Sciences from Michigan Technological University. I was always interested in math and science growing up and after getting my first pair of glasses in middle school I had made up my mind that I was going to be an optometrist one day. I shadowed at a local private practice throughout my time in high school and college which only confirmed my earlier decision. After interviewing at MCO I knew it was the right school for me. I especially loved the small class sizes and beautiful new facility!

Nilam TrivediNilam Trivedi

I am from Farmington Hills, MI and obtained my Bachelor of Science in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. My love of the sciences and patient care led me to shadow various medical professionals during my undergraduate years. After having the chance to speak and work with different optometrists, I knew that it was the right career for me: it is an intellectually challenging and gratifying field where you can directly see the impact you make on patients of all ages. After visiting a few different optometry schools, I knew that MCO was the best place to pursue my optometric education: the class size is small, the facility is state of the art, and the environment is so welcoming. The faculty are wonderful and genuinely care about the success and well-being of all students; we truly are one big family here at MCO! I serve as the Community Chair for the Michigan Optometric Student Association, Liaison Elect for the American Public Health Association, and am also actively involved with the American Optometric Student Association and Student Volunteers for Optometric Services to Humanity organizations. I am loving my experience here at MCO, and am confident you will too! Feel free to e-mail me with any questions you may have at

Nilam TrivediRachel Copley

Hello future optometrist! My name is Rachel Copley and I am from Whitehall, Michigan. I earned my B.S. in Biology from Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana. While pursuing my undergraduate education I had many interests and hobbies including music, literature, medicine, and religious studies. Initially, my own need for glasses sparked my interest in optometry; volunteering at a hospital and shadowing multiple optometrists solidified optometry as my profession of choice. My passion for the field is centered around the positive impact a visit to the optometrist can have on an individual’s life! At the Michigan College of Optometry, patient care is a priority. This is demonstrated through our top-notch facility, small class sizes, and excellent faculty. Each individual at MCO wants you to succeed so that you in turn can help your patients succeed! Here at MCO I am a representative for the Class of 2019 and a member of SVOSH, MOSA, and AOSA. If you have any additional questions, please contact me!

Nilam TrivediRobert Lima

Hello! My name is Robert and I am from Ottawa, Canada. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Ottawa where I received a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Optometry has been the career I wanted to pursue since I was 16 and went to see my family Optometrist. After my visit I became fascinated in the profession and my passion for Optometry has not changed one bit! During the application process I visited several Optometry schools and MCO was my top choice. After seeing the world class facility and equipment and how the excellent professors were so approachable I knew MCO was where I wanted to complete my degree. At MCO I am part of several different organizations such as SVOSH and the Vision Rehab Club where I am the President-Elect. MCO has many opportunities to get involved and make a difference! Going to school at MCO really does feel like I am part of another family here in Michigan especially when I am so far from home. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me at

Nilam TrivediTaylor Smith 

Hi! My name is Taylor, and I’m from Saginaw, MI. I found my way to optometry a bit earlier than most people. I’ve always had an interest in the medical field, and during 8th grade I visited a private optometry practice for the first time to get an eye exam. I instantly knew that this was the career for me. During my undergraduate studies at Michigan State University, I had the opportunity to work at this same practice that sparked my interest several years prior. The more I learned about the field and what a typical day looked like as an optometrist, the more passionate I became. The ability to develop lifelong Dr./patient relationships, be involved in the community, see patients of all ages and have such a wide variety in my scope of practice are just a few of the things I look forward to as an OD. I also love that optometry gives me the opportunity to build my own schedule, choose the mode of practice that I like best, as well as the option to be a business owner. Optometry is constantly evolving, expanding, and discovering new ways to best serve our patients, and it’s so exciting to be a part of that and be challenged each day! Here at MCO I am involved in SVOSH and have had the chance to travel to Dominica on two optometric mission trips, as well as serving as the Trustee-elect for the American Optometric Student Association. During my free time I love running and exercising, cheering on the Spartans, and spending time at my lake house. Please free to contact me with any questions you may have!