Countless Pacific University students and alumni have committed their lives to the service of their country with the U.S. Armed Forces.Wanda Laukkanen | Writer
The scholarships would supply money for tuition, living expenses, books and more, provided she spend three years on active duty.
“It was a fantastic opportunity and program,” she said.
She was on active duty for six weeks each year while in school, allowing her to look at different kinds of optometric practices — and to discover that she especially enjoys hospital-based optometry.
In her more than 20 years with the Army, she has served in Colorado, Texas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Hawai‘i, North Carolina, and overseas in Korea. Currently, she is at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, as the southern regional medical optometric consultant and the chief of optometry services.
She also is something of a pioneer: Two years ago, she became the first woman optometrist to earn the rank of “full bird” colonel in the Army.
“I feel really lucky and honored by the recognition. It is a humbling experience,” she said — one made possible by the opportunities she found along her path, all the way back to the scholarship that got her started.
“I had really good opportunities along the way. I took advantage of challenging jobs that came along the way, put my best effort into the responsibilities and was able to work on and complete some very big projects,” she said.
“When they threw opportunities my way, I took them on.”