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

EllieEllie Rose 

Welcome to MCO! My name is Ellie Rose and I am from the metro-Detroit area in Novi. I completed my undergraduate studies in Neuroscience at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Go Blue! I am involved with many aspects of life at MCO as OSG president-elect, and class representative and enjoy every minute of my involvement at school! Optometry has proven over and over again to be a great profession. The more I learn, the more I am intrigued by all of the intricacies of the human visual system! With enthusiastic faculty and a state-of-the art-facility, MCO offers an incredible learning environment for future optometrists. I am happy to answer any questions you have about academic life, student organizations and life in Big Rapids!  Feel free to email me!

RamonRamon Yalldo

Being born and raised in the metro Detroit area has given me a great appreciation for the state of Michigan. I grew up loving sports, the outdoors, and science. I was a biology major at Wayne State University during my undergrad. My sister in law, who is an optometrist that graduated from MCO, inspired me to learn more about optometry. It didn’t take me long to realize that this was the career path that I wanted follow. MCO’s small class sizes allow students to build special relationships with their classmates and professors that go well beyond the classroom. Coming from a large family, I can say that factor has been one of the biggest reasons I was able to make a seamless transition from back home to Big Rapids. MCO really is committed to developing their students into becoming the best primary care optometrists this country has to offer. I could go on and on but this is supposed to be a bio about me. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at 

Carissa TrontvetCarissa Trontvet

I found my passion for the field of optometry during my junior year at Fargo South High. Growing up in the tight-knit community of Fargo, North Dakota, I was given the opportunity to shadow many health professionals in my health careers class. My final observation was at a private practice optometry clinic. Because I didn’t need glasses growing up, I knew little about this great profession. I left that day with all smiles, knowing that optometry would be a part of my future. I completed my undergraduate education at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, where I majored in biology. I believe that the Michigan College of Optometry has been the perfect fit for me. There are great opportunities to get involved at school and colleagues who share the same passions as you. The faculty at MCO is outstanding, and the small class size makes me feel at home. If you have any questions at all, don’t be afraid to email me.

ChristinChristine Mekhayel

I graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology. As a young child, growing up in the city of Jackson, Michigan, I can very clearly and vividly remember my first eye exam as well as the moment I received my first pair of glasses which, little did I know, would change my entire perception of the world around me. From that point on, I realized the importance and fragility of vision in everyday life and looked forward to annual eye doctor visits. I knew optometry was the right career choice for me because I wanted to make a difference for others, the way my optometrist did for me. Ever since I toured MCO, I knew this was the best place to obtain an education in optometry. MCO’s brand new building, advanced technologies, and friendly faculty were huge contributing factors toward my decision to attend the school. Apart from school and studying, my interests include traveling, music, culture, and dance. Please feel free to contact me with any questions: 

NickNick Bruns

I completed my undergraduate degree at Central Michigan University where I majored in biomedical science. While at Central I was the president of the pre-optometry club. I also was on the club baseball team, participated in the honors program, and worked in a neuroscience lab on campus where I completed research on Alzheimer’s disease. I chose to pursue a career in optometry because of my science background and also because of the ability to interact with and really get to know patients on a level that is not possible with other medical professions. I chose to come to MCO because of the small class sizes which allow for a much closer doctor/student relationship than you will see at any other school. It is truly unlike any other academic setting that I have been in. The fact that doctors really treat students as colleagues is something that I have really enjoyed. The brand new facility that has recently been built is state-of-the-art and being able to learn about the visual system with the many tools we have available here has been fantastic. When I’m not studying I enjoy playing basketball, skiing, running, and hanging out with friends. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to e-mail me at

Samantha FordyceSamantha Fordyce

I completed three years of undergraduate at Ferris State University before entering into the Class of 2015 and received my Bachelor of Vision Science upon completion of my first year at Michigan College of Optometry. While at Ferris, I was a member of the Honors Program, Select Sixty, Pre-Optometry Club, and am currently still a member of the Ferris State Volleyball Team. My interest for Optometry spawned from an interest in Dentistry. My mother is a Dental Hygienist, so I was around the Dentist Office all the time. So since I was five, I wanted to be a Dentist. Then when I came to visit Ferris for Volleyball, the admissions talked about MCO and how it is the only Optometry School in Michigan, which got my wheels turning. I then shadowed my Optometrist and fell in love with Optometry. I chose to study Optometry at MCO because the class size is small, the professors are very personable, I enjoy the small town atmosphere, it provides a large amount of community service opportunity, and people are very friendly and helpful. When I am not studying, I love to play sports, watch movies, take naps, eat, and hang out with friends. Email:

Ann Hewlett MillerAnn Hewlett Miller

I attended Ferris State University for my undergraduate education. I entered into the Pre-Optometry program at FSU my freshman year and once I did a lot of job shadowing I was affirmed in my decision because I absolutely loved the profession. MCO is, in my opinion, the best school to attend. I love the small class sizes, personal attention during labs, new technology, and being in a small town where people care. I've been in Big Rapids for 5 years now so I know my way around. I know all kinds of housing options, fun activities around town, where local churches are, and where the best places to eat are! Feel free to email me. I'd love to answer any questions you may have.


NateNate Aigner

I completed my undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa, majoring in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Psychology. While at UNI, I actively participated in intramural sports and as a Biology Department Student Ambassador. I first became interested in optometry in high school during my first visit to a local optometrist. I was fortunate to job shadow an optometrist for two summers during my undergraduate work. His knowledge and passion for the field really resonated in me, solidifying my career path. My interest in science, the medical field, and the complex workings of the human visual system makes optometry the perfect fit for me. I chose MCO because of the small doctor to student ratio, state -of-the-art-facilities, and how personable all the faculty are to the students. You will not find a better optometric learning environment focusing on hands on learning and a one on one approach than here at MCO! Outside of class, I enjoy mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, and playing sports. Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have!

AnnAnna Baumgartner

I am a native Yooper, from Iron River. I completed my undergraduate studies at Ferris State University. During my time at Ferris I was in the Honors Program, served as president of the Pre-Optometry Club, and briefly played cello in the West Central Chamber Orchestra. Becoming an optometrist has been a lifelong goal of mine; actually since 2nd grade. I spent my adolescence focused on bettering myself for a career in optometry and continued to fall more and more in love with the profession as I grew older. I decided to attend Ferris for undergrad as a sophomore in high school based on the great reputation that the Michigan College of Optometry had; the small class size, exceptional faculty, outstanding performance on Board Certification, etc. Now with the advantage of our state-of-the-art institution, in my opinion, there isn’t a better choice of Optometry School. I am so very pleased with my decision to attend MCO and love the ease of becoming involved in our community of optometry. I am currently a Class of 2015 Representative as well as the President Elect for the Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (SVOSH). When I’m not studying, I enjoy skiing, the outdoors, baking and spending time with family and friends. I would love to answer any questions you may have about pre-optometry, optometry, student life, SVOSH, housing, etc. You may contact me via email:

Brian TatsakBrian Tatsak

I grew in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Biology from Ferris State University. I chose MCO because of its reputation of producing great clinical optometrists. I quickly learned the reasons for such high accolades. I know that every professor and staff member is always looking out for me and my future patients. The amount of time and availability with the professors both inside and outside of the classroom enriches the educational process. MCO produces many leaders in the professional organizations, professors, business leaders, and most importantly community leaders and advocates. Having a smaller class size, there are plenty of leadership opportunities and leadership training is part of the education. Besides being a student ambassador, I also serve as the AOA-PAC liaison for my class, where I strive to progress the profession through advocacy on the local, state, and federal level. When I’m not studying I enjoy playing sports, reading, community service, and hanging out with classmates and friends.  I have truly found a second home here in Big Rapids. Please feel free to contact me with any questions! My email is  

johnJohn Large

I am from Ludington, MI, a small city just northwest of Big Rapids. I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in optometry after working in a clinic in my hometown. I attended Oakland University in Rochester, MI and majored in Biology. I was also fortunate enough to be a member of the Golden Grizzly baseball team, and I was elected to the leadership committee which participated in many community service events. MCO is an excellent institution for optometric learning. The doctors treat the students as colleagues, and the ratio of doctors to students is outstanding. The class sizes are small which provides a family-like learning environment. MCO also has a variety of student organizations to get involved with. Please don't hesitate to email me with any questions or concerns that you may have.

Lindsay LaBelleLindsay LaBelle

I did my undergraduate studies at Ferris State University and went through their Early Admissions program to get into MCO. After my first year of optometry school, I received my BS in Vision Science. I'm extremely passionate about the optometric profession because there are many opportunities to interact with the community, touch lives, and help fulfill people's dreams of having clarity of vision. I recently went on a medical mission trip through FCO to Guyana, South America. It was a life changing experience and such a rewarding trip to be apart of! I'm looking forward to many future opportunities to serve through this amazing profession.

Nicole BensonNicolle Benson

I knew from a young age I wanted to study optometry as a result of job shadowing and research about the profession. I have pursued that path ever since. As an undergraduate at FSU, I majored in pre-optometry. I applied to MCO through the early admit program my sophomore year and was accepted. Therefore, I completed my junior year at FSU and started at MCO the next fall. After my first year of optometry school, I had earned my Bachelor’s in Vision Science. I am proud to attend such an incredible institution. The small class size, state-of-the-art building, and unparalleled faculty make MCO a great place to learn. As a member of a handful of organizations, I am involved and am able to network with speakers, faculty, and other students. I enjoy my time here at MCO and in Big Rapids with the friends and colleagues I have had the pleasure meeting. Don’t hesitate to e-mail me with questions!

Jessie WenzelJessie Wenzel

Hello, my name is Jessie Wenzel. I grew up in Rogers City, Michigan, which is a small northern town on Lake Huron. I spent three years at Grand Valley State University for my undergraduate where I studied biomedical sciences. I went off to college knowing that I wanted to help people, but wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. After bouncing around between a few health professions, I stumbled upon optometry and decided to shadow my local optometrist. Once realizing optometry combined my love of math and science with an environment to help people on a daily basis, I was hooked. After completing one year of optometry school, I received a Bachelor of Science in Vision Science. I love the Michigan College of Optometry because it reminds me of home. It is a small, tight-knit group of professors, faculty, staff, and students. We are privileged to have extremely intelligent, yet down to earth professors at a brand new, beautiful facility. There are many organizations to get involved with here at MCO, which adds to the family feel. I am confident in my choice of MCO and look forward to the future as an optometrist. Growing up on the lake, I can be found enjoying any aspect of the outdoors when not in the classroom; I love swimming, running, biking, and skiing. If you have any questions about life as an optometry student at MCO, feel free to contact me at

Hannah WoodkeHannah Woodke

I grew up in Flushing, Michigan and attended Ferris for my undergraduate. After three years of undergraduate work, I entered into MCO where I am a member of various student organizations. In the spring of 2012, as a member of AOA-PAC, I traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with representatives and discuss issues that are important to the field of optometry. Here at MCO, students are given so many opportunities to succeed. With small class sizes and highly respected instructors, each student is given the attention they need to become extraordinary optometrists. I have the opportunity to work side by side with some of the biggest names in the field on some of the latest equipment, which is one of the reasons I chose MCO. Throughout the past two years, I have also come to appreciate how clinic-focused MCO is and the high standards that they hold their students to. While not in school or studying, I enjoy running, cooking, and spending time with family and friends (most of whom are classmates). If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me at


Lou GrecoLou Greco

I grew up in the great white north known as Canada, where I spent most of my time tinkering with anything I could (mostly breaking things and trying to fix them.) I attended Lake Superior State University and graduated with a BS in Biology. I chose Michigan College of Optometry for a list of reasons, but some of the key factors included: small class size, great professor-student ratio, small town advantages, and a state of the art building with lots of brand new toys to tinker with. Feel free to contact me at with questions about anything at all. 


Second 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