New Graduate Recaps Her Time at Pacific

An interview with a new optometry graduate offers a look into the Pacific experience.

Amy Pedersen graduated from Pacific’s College of Optometry this May with lasting relationships, a well-rounded educational experience under her belt, intentions to stay connected with the Pacific community and a special honor.

Pedersen was selected as Pacific’s optometry program’s Outstanding Graduate of the Year as selected by Pacific’s College of Optometry faculty members and a special committee.

Pedersen is from Redlands, Calif. and started her Pacific journey as an undergraduate student seven years ago. It was then Pedersen instantly noticed that “there’s a Pacific culture. Everybody here is really genuine and nice and I’ve formed really good relationships with people.”

Pedersen said she didn’t even look at other optometry schools; after completing her undergraduate education one year early, she wanted to stay.

She played basketball during her three years as a Pacific undergraduate and her first year in optometry school and still assists with the summer camps put on by Head Women’s Basketball Coach Sharon Rissmiller.

Pedersen has fond memories as a result of playing basketball for Pacific and said it was a very positive experience.

Another memory that stands out is when former Pacific President Dr. Phil Creighton and his wife had dinner and played Wii at her apartment with Pedersen and her roommates.

“Things like that make Pacific really special,” Pedersen said.

Pedersen admits her first year enrolled in optometry school was challenging and she sometimes had her doubts if she “was doing the right thing,” but she soon found out that “if you were struggling, you had somebody available to help you.”

Pedersen said Pacific has not only helped her develop clinical practice skills, but also taught her about “compassionate, patient-centered care.”

She also appreciates the emphasis the classroom work places on communicating with patients. “You have to be able to explain things to patients and it’s about making it a good experience for them,” said Pedersen.

“I like seeing patients. I get excited about seeing them,” Petersen said. “I just like talking to people.”

Now, Pedersen is confident in her career choice and looks forward to life after graduation, which she describes as bittersweet.

“You go through four years with these people,” said Pedersen. “We struggled and succeeded together. I’ve formed lasting and meaningful connections with them.”

During her time at Pacific, Petersen completed all the necessary classroom work and the three required clinical rotations, each lasting for three months. For her clinical rotations, Pedersen lived and learned in Germany, Alaska and South Dakota.

Pedersen said she learned not only about optometry, but also about herself as she took advantage of the opportunity to live abroad. “You find an appreciation for the way you live but also for the way other people live and it gives you confidence.”

After she completes her one-year residency at the Portland VA Hospital, Pedersen is leaving her options open. She is considering teaching after practicing for a few years and thinks it would be fun to open a practice with her dad, who is also a graduate of Pacific’s optometry school.

“I’m excited for residency,” said Petersen. “I’m excited just to learn more and build even more confidence.”

“I think I’ll definitely keep in touch and be connected with Pacific long term,” said Pedersen.

Posted by Stephanie Haugen ( on Jul 6, 2011 at 11:34 AM

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