Father, Daughter Find Home, Career at Pacific

Kres and Amy Pedersen
Kres and Amy Pedersen pictured with their beloved dog.

Kres Pedersen ‘79, OD ‘82 remembers taking college biology at the same time as his sister.

He was at Pacific University. She was at the University of Southern California.

“We both had the same book,” he said. “The difference was, her professor was the author of that biology book, but she never met him, never went to office hours. The whole class was done by a TA.

“Our class was taught by Dr. Carter, with a PhD in biology.

“The professors at Pacific were there to teach. It really showed. They were there to be a mentor, to get you excited about the material in the class and want you to investigate.”

A generation later, his daughter Amy Pedersen ‘08, OD ‘11 found the same thing.

She remembers then-President Phil Creighton coming to her dorm room for dinner and joining her and her roommate in shooting marshmallow guns out the window.

“Professors had us over to their houses,” she said. “It was a very different college experience than I think a lot of people had.”

Kres and Amy both found their way to Pacific with a little guidance from their parents.

“My folks had the foresight to understand that if I went to UC Berkley or a really large school, I’d probably just get lost,” said Kres, who grew up in Southern California. “If I went to a smaller school, the chance of success was higher.”

Still, he didn’t set out to recommend Pacific to his daughter. He wanted her to go away from home, live on campus and have the full undergraduate experience. She wanted to play basketball.

“We were looking at schools, but none of the schools fit,” Kres recalled. “I remember her coming in and saying, ‘Dad, I’m never going to find a college I like.’ I said, ‘You know what, look at Pacific.’ Just to calm her down and get her going. They wrote her back immediately.”

“It was a good fit, all the way around,” said Amy.

Amy took a rigorous pathway to her doctor of optometry degree, earning her bachelor’s in vision science and transitioning straight from the undergraduate to graduate program in her senior year.

“I did optometry school after three years. It was technically like my senior year,” she said. “I was in optometry school, still playing basketball, doing some undergrad-type things. It was really crazy, but I’m glad I did it.”

In the College of Optometry, Amy said she found the same support she had as an undergraduate.

“I had a really, really good education. There’s no question about that. I felt very prepared,” she said. “Even more than that, I had a great mentor in Dr. (Jenny Coyle), which is huge.”

Dr. Coyle (then Smythe) encouraged Amy to complete a residency, which she did at the Portland Veterans Administration following graduation.

“It was definitely the best thing I could have done,” Amy said. “It’s very different going from seeing patients when supervised all the time to having your own patients. It makes you a really, really good clinician.”

Eventually, Amy found her way to Kaiser Permanente in her hometown of Redlands, Calif., the same organization where her father has worked for more than 25 years.

“I knew that’s where I eventually wanted to be,” she said.

Kres has enjoyed the professional opportunities presented by the comprehensive healthcare provider.

“I was doing red eyes, urgent care, diabetic, glaucoma, way before the laws expanded, just because I was working with ophthamologists right next door,” he said.

Today, Amy has the opportunity to enjoy an even broader scope of practice. She specializes in working with low-vision patients and provides assessments for patients with macular degeneration, to determine if they are candidates for implantable mini-telescopes.

“There are only three Kaisers in Southern California doing (the procedure) right now,” she said. “There are limited candidates, but I do a lot of evaluations. It’s pretty neat to get to be a part of that.”

Optometry, Amy said, wasn’t the career she grew up imagining, but it’s been a great fit for her life.

“It’s just a good profession,” she said. “You get to really impact people in your daily life.

“When you make somebody see better, you really do improve the way that they live."

This story first appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Pacific magazine. For more stories, visit pacificu.edu/magazine.

Monday, Sept. 14, 2015