Optometry Student Ambassadors

Our Ambassadors provide tours to prospective students and other visitors. In addition to the tours, the Ambassadors assist with the interview days and orientation. They also work very closely with the Admissions office in providing an invaluable resource for prospective students.

If you would like to speak with a current student about their experience applying to or choosing Pacific University College of Optometry, you are invited to contact them directly. They will be happy to help you! You can also follow the College of Optometry on Instagram @pacificuoptometry!

Class of 2023

optometry ambassador photoSarah Behles

Third Year

Undergraduate Institution: North Dakota State University
Major: Biological Sciences
Hometown: Garrison, North Dakota

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific University because I immediately felt like part of a family. Coming from a small town, it was important for me to have a close-knit feel with classmates and faculty. I also liked how Pacific was involved in the community and outreach programs.  

Hobbies: Hiking, volleyball, yoga, running- anything outdoor or fitness related, music, spending time with friends and family

Clubs / Organizations: AMIGOS, American Optometric Student Association (AOSA), National Optometric Student Association (NOSA), Contact Lens and Cornea Section (CLCS) Club, Student Ambassadors

Optometry Ambassador PhotoThuy Xuan Dang

Third Year

Undergraduate InstitutionUniversity of Washington
MajorBiochemistry, Biology (Physiology)
Hometown: Burien, Washington

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because to me, what Pacific can offer extends beyond a strong, reputable clinical and academic program. It offers a nurturing environment where I feel comfortable to be vulnerable in the process of cultivating myself into a well-rounded person and clinician. Everyone here really goes above and beyond in ensuring your success!

Hobbies: Budget-friendly shopping, Netflix binge watching, gift-wrapping, music

Clubs / Organizations: Student Ambassadors, AOA, AOSA, Pacific Practice Management Group, OPW

optometry ambassador photoMelissa Davies

Third Year

Undergraduate InstitutionGonzaga University
Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of the welcoming and familial atmosphere that stood out to me when compared to other schools. I also loved Pacific because of the communal fascination for eyeballs and how passionate everyone seemed about their education here. The long-standing traditions at Pacific show how successful they are at producing great doctors and I love being a part of that.

Hobbies: Hiking, singing, yoga and finding interesting music to jam to

Clubs / Organizations: Student Ambassador, American Optometric Student Association (AOSA), National Optometric Student Association (NOSA), Contact Lens and Cornea Section (CLCS) Club, AMIGOS

optometry ambassador photoAlecia Diede

Third Year

Undergraduate InstitutionUniversity of North Dakota
Major: Biology
Hometown: Fargo, North Dakota

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of the supportive and encouraging atmosphere I experienced during my interview day. This close-knit family is warm and welcoming, and created a perfect home away from home.

Hobbies: Drawing, painting, reading, exploring local coffee shops, and playing with my pug!

Clubs / Organizations: AOSA, OWNS, Student Ambassadors 

Optometry Ambassador Photo

Lupita Gomez

Third Year

Undergraduate InstitutionUniversity of Washington; Washington State University - Tri-Cities
MajorBA Spanish Literature (UW); BS Biology (WSU-TC) 
Hometown: Mabton, WA

One reason I chose Pacific: When I visited Pacific early in exploring optometry schools I felt connected to this school's environment overall. As I progressed through the application process I communicated with Graduate Admissions a lot because I had so many questions as a post-bachelor student and I always felt like my questions were welcomed. Pacific has a way of looking at me as an individual and making it feel like it's a team effort to be successful in the program which I feel is really important when pursuing higher education. 

Hobbies: Running, going on walks, singing, hiking, dancing, shopping  

Clubs / Organizations: Student Ambassadors, Amigos, Sports Vision, NOSA, AOSA

Optometry Ambassador PhotoDrew Hargrove, Social Media Representative

Third Year

Undergraduate InstitutionUniversity of Nevada, Reno
Hometown: Sparks, NV

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because I felt welcomed and comfortable here. I feel that the College of Optometry is one big family, and I know that everyone here has a desire to see everyone succeed.

Hobbies: Golf, skiing, naps

Clubs / Organizations: Student Ambassadors, AMIGOS, Sports Vision Club, Ocular Wellness and Nutrition Society (OWNS)

Optometry Ambassador PhotoErica Lei, President

Third Year

Undergraduate InstitutionUniversity of Alberta
MajorBiological Science
Hometown: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada 

One reason I chose Pacific: Starting from the interview day, you could tell how welcoming and encouraging everybody is. All the students from different years support and are friends with each other. The faculty makes different resources and services easily accessible on campus so you immediately know where to go for support. 

Hobbies: Cooking/baking, playing piano, hiking, trying all the new foods, intramurals, sleeping

Clubs / Organizations: CAOS, OWNS, AOSA, Student Ambassadors, AMIGOS

Optometry ambassador photoJulia Loeppky

Third Year

Undergraduate InstitutionSeattle University
Hometown: Spokane, WA

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of their strong focus on service to their local community and around the world. It has also been a community that has made me feel so welcomed and cared for, reminding me much of home.

Hobbies: Hiking, playing board games, reading, dancing, trying new foods

Clubs / Organizations: AOSA, NOSA, AMIGOS and Student Ambassadors

Optometry ambassador photoAvisa Mohammad-Hassani

Third Year

Undergraduate InstitutionSimon Fraser University
Hometown: Coquitlam, British Columbia 

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of the support and care I received from the very beginning from the Faculty, the staff and the students. It is great to see that PUCO wants us to not only succeed as Optometry students but also to take care of our health and well-being. Pacific has a great outstanding reputation, provides many great clinical opportunities, and the campus is very beautiful! 

Hobbies: Traveling, exercising, hiking, music, reading, eating/trying new places to eat, and spending time with family/friends

Clubs / Organizations: AOSA, CAOS, PPMG, CLCS, Student Ambassadors 

Optometry Ambassador Photo

Artin Monghate

Third Year

Undergraduate InstitutionUniversity of Washington, Seattle 
MajorGeneral Biology
Hometown: Camas, Washington

One reason I chose Pacific: What stood out to me about Pacific was the environment of genuine care and support created by all of the faculty and students. Coming from a large university, I yearned to a part of an institution that cared about each student and supported their educational journeys. Now being a student here, I feel that level support every time I step onto campus and it is one of my favorite things about this university. 

Hobbies: Community service, youth empowerment, playing/watching basketball, spending time with family, meditation, and anything related to coffee

Clubs / Organizations: AOSA, Student Ambassadors, Sports Vision Club, AMIGOS, Ocular Wellness & Nutrition Club


Optometry Ambassador PhotoHelene Pippin

Third Year

Undergraduate InstitutionUniversity of Minnesota 
Hometown: Williston, North Dakota

One reason I chose Pacific: One thing that really set Pacific apart, and was also very important to me, was the welcoming and positive environment on campus. Everyone I interacted with before, during, and after my interview day were always so kind and helpful. Pacific also has a strong commitment to serving the community, which was also very important to me.

Hobbies: Hanging out with friends, yoga, traveling, and hiking

Clubs / Organizations: AOSA, Student Ambassadors, AMIGOS, Professional Student Senate

Optometry Ambassador PhotoDespina Velanis

Third Year

Undergraduate InstitutionUniversity of Nevada, Reno 
Major: Neuroscience
Hometown: Minden, Nevada

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of the "open door" policy of the faculty and after my interview, I felt that the professors were welcoming unlike any I have ever experienced before. 

Hobbies: Hiking, cooking, fitness, and softball! 

Clubs / Organizations: Student Ambassadors, Ocular Wellness and Nutrition Society (OWNS)


Optometry Ambassador PhotoJessica Vo

Third Year

Undergraduate InstitutionOregon State University
Major: BioHealth Sciences with an option in Pre-Optometry
Hometown: Portland, OR 

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of the community base here; I have felt supported by the faculty and other students from the moment I stepped foot on the campus. It doesn't hurt that this is also a beautiful campus, in a great place- with Portland nearby, there are all types of food to choose from, the nature is beautiful, and the people here are great! 

Hobbies: Hiking, sleeping, Netflix, eating, and hanging out with friends and family

Clubs / Organizations: Class Council (Vice-President), AMIGOS, NOSA, ASOA, Contact lens club


Class of 2024

Joey Borrelli PhotoJoey Borrelli

Second Year

Undergraduate InstitutionUniversity of Calgary
Major: Biological Sciences
Hometown: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of the immediate welcoming atmosphere I felt when I first came for my interview. Pacific truly is like a family; everyone is here to support and help each other along the way. I know many graduates of Pacific that still keep in touch with their professors to this day. The bonds formed at Pacific will last a lifetime. Moving away from home in Canada was a tough decision, and Pacific was easily the best choice because of its welcoming environment. My fellow classmates, friends, and professors all feel like one big Pacific family, which makes it feel a lot like home.

Hobbies: Playing and watching sports, attending live music festivals, watching movies, and spending time with my family and friends

Clubs / Organizations: Student Ambassador, CAOS, Sports Vision


Brianna Doyle PictureBrianna Doyle

Second Year

Undergraduate Institution: St. Olaf College
Major: Biology and English
Hometown: Decorah, IA 

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of the welcoming family atmosphere.  Faculty and fellow classmates truly want you to succeed and are always willing to help you out.  The emphasis on serving the community through outreach opportunities was also something that put PUCO over the top for me! 

Hobbies: Reading, swing dancing, trying new foods/restaurants, playing tennis and basketball, and hiking

Clubs / Organizations: AOSA, Student Ambassadors, Amigos, VT club


Alexia Gowing PictureAlexia Gowing, President-Elect

Second Year

Undergraduate Institution: University of Colorado Boulder
Major: Biochemistry and Sociology
Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because I really enjoyed the instant community feel--the staff, faculty, and students were all so welcoming right from the get go. I enjoyed how involved the students were in our interview process and I couldn't wait to get involved in the same way!

Hobbies: In my spare time, I like to go to breweries, try new restaurants, relax and watch movies, play board and card games, watch any and all Colorado sports teams, and hang out with my friends and family.

Clubs / Organizations: Student Ambassadors, Ocular Disease Club, Contact Lens and Cornea Section Club


Risa HedgesRisa Hedges

Second Year

Undergraduate Institution: Montana State University
Major: Cell Biology and Neuroscience 
Hometown: Plentywood, MT 

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of its outstanding academic reputation and clinical opportunities. On interview day, I felt like I could see myself fitting into both the optometry family and the surrounding community as a whole. Ultimately, I knew I would learn to become a great optometrist at Pacific! 

Hobbies: Hiking, traveling, hanging out with friends, trying new foods, watching movies/shows, crafting, playing cards

Clubs / Organizations: AMIGOS, Pacific Practice Management Group, Ocular Wellness and Nutrition Society, Student Ambassadors, AOSA


Tina Lee PhotoTina Lee

Second Year

Undergraduate Institution: University of British Columbia
Major: Biotechnology
Hometown: Coquitlam, British Columbia

One reason I chose Pacific: Pacific truly is one big family. There is so much support from students and upperclassmen. The faculty and staff are super passionate about what they do and care for both our learning and well-being.

Hobbies: Cooking, baking, photography, reading

Clubs / Organizations: Canadian Association of Optometric Students (CAOS), Student Ambassadors


Cole McDougall PhotoCole McDougall

Second Year

Undergraduate Institution: South Dakota State University
Major: Human Biology
Hometown: Brookings, SD

One reason I chose Pacific: Pacific is known for their faculty and the education they provide to their students. I knew I was going to be academically challenged, but also nkew that there would be great rewards. The faculty members here see students as future colleagues and that was really important in choosing Pacific. Also I loved that there was so much to do around the area from finding food places in Portland, to hikes on the coast! 

Hobbies: Traveling, shopping, netflix, baking, finding good food!

Clubs / Organizations: AOSA, Student Ambassadors, AMIGOS, Ocular Disease Club


Malisha Patel PhotoMalisha Patel

Second Year

Undergraduate Institution: Dominican University of California 
Major: Chemistry
Hometown: Modesto, CA

One reason I chose Pacific: One of the things I loved most about Pacific was the friendly and welcoming atmosphere! The second I interacted with the faculty and current students during interview day, I knew Pacific University could be my home away from home for the next 4 years. PUCO has an amazing support system, great opportunities, and gorgeous sceneries nearby! 

Hobbies: Hiking, Traveling, Bowling, Cooking, Listening to music, Trying new foods, Spending time with family & friends

Clubs / Organizations: NOSA, AOSA, Student Ambassadors 


Priya Purewal PhotoPriya Purewal

Second Year

Undergraduate Institution: University of British Columbia
Major: Biochemistry and Psychology
Hometown: Surrey, BC

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific University because of the welcoming community. The camaraderie between faculty and students was apparent on interview day, so knowing that I would have good support as I went through this experience was very comforting and influenced my decision! 

Hobbies: painting, reading, outdoor activities, cooking, hanging out with family and friends, Netflix

Clubs / Organizations: Class Council (Treasurer), Student Ambassadors, American Optometric Student Association (AOSA), Canadian Association of Optometric Students (CAOS), Amigos EyeCare, Ocular Disease Club


Hifza Rai PhotoHifza Rai, Secretary

Second Year

Undergraduate Institution: Simon Fraser University
Major: Health Sciences
Hometown: Surrey, British Columbia

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific due to their initiative to help underserved communities through means such as the EyeVan. 

Hobbies: I enjoy baking, playing badminton, going to coffee shops and spending time with family.

Clubs / Organizations: CAOS, PPMG, Amigos, AOSA, Student Ambassadors


Aldrin PhotoAldrin Santamaria, Social Media Representative

Second Year

Undergraduate Institution: University of Nevada Reno
Major: Biology (BS), Higher Education Administration (MA)
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of the great feeling of community and family I felt when I first visited campus - everyone I met (faculty, staff, students, etc.) was very welcoming and friendly. The weather up here in the PNW is also a nice change of pace. 

Hobbies: Hiking, travel, coffee shops, game nights, volunteering, sleeping

Clubs / Organizations: Class Council (Exam Czar/Faculty Rep), Student Ambassadors


Missael Serna PhotoMissael Serna

Second Year

Undergraduate Institution: Fresno Pacific University
Major: Biology
Hometown: Chowchilla, CA

One reason I chose Pacific: The environment I study in as always been critical to my academic career. The calm and small town feel of Forest Grove and the collaborative nature of PUCO offered the ideal environment that I knew would help me be successful in such a demanding program.  

Hobbies: Catch me on my 12-speed bike around Forest Grove, when it’s not raining, on a run, or checking out the PNW.

Clubs / Organizations: Student Ambassadors, AOSA, Central California Optometric Society (CCOS)


Nancy Truong PhotoNancy Truong

Second Year

Undergraduate Institution: Oregon State University 
Major: BioHealth Sciences with an option in Pre-Optometry 
Hometown: Hillsboro, OR

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of the welcoming community I experienced throughout my interview day. The faculty, staff, and students are truly here to support you on your journey! 

Hobbies: Cooking, baking, shopping, exploring new places to eat, playing board games, and spending time with family and friends 

Clubs / Organizations: NOSA, AMIGOS, AOSA, Ocular Disease Club, Contact Lens Club, Student Ambassadors  


Class of 2025

Tina Lee PhotoEmily Bittman

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: University of Regina
Hometown: Melfort, Saskatchewan

One reason I chose Pacific: One of the reasons I chose PUCO was because of the admissions process. At every stage of the process, from expressing interest to being admitted and preparing for a big move to Oregon, all of my questions were answered promptly, I was well informed on everything I needed to know, and there were zoom calls where I could start meeting classmates and faculty! As a Canadian, another reason I chose PUCO is because of the Canadian presence in this program. The international office at Pacific U is very experienced in helping Canadians with their documents for studying in the US. In addition to the great sense of community that is present here, PUCO has a great location! We are close to the ocean, mountains, and spectacular forests!

Hobbies: Hiking, Biking, Running, Cross-country skiing, Snowboarding, Camping, Visiting coffee shops

Clubs / Organizations: AMIGOS, Ocular Wellness & Nutrition Society (OWNS), Sports Vision Club (SVC), Contact Lens Club, Student Ambassadors, Ocular Disease Club, Canadian Association of Optometric Students (CAOS)


Nancy Truong PhotoKarma Castro

First Year


Undergraduate Institution: Boise State University
Major: Health Science
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because I loved how much the school gives leadership opportunities to their students and allows them to have a voice. I felt very welcomed onto campus. In addition, the Pacific Northwest is an amazing place to be!

Hobbies: Painting, Skiing, Trying new restaurants, Listening to Music

Clubs / Organizations: Amigos, Sports Vision Club,OWNS, Oc Disease, OOPA, Contact Lens Club


Colleen PhotoColleen Culbertson

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: Carroll College
Major: Health Science/Public Health
Hometown: Absarokee, Montana

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of the friendly and welcoming environment that I could sense, even over a virtual interview. The academic reputation, community involvement, and student opportunities helped solidify my decision to attend Pacific. There are also so many beautiful and fun places to explore that made me excited to move to the PNW.

Hobbies: Hiking, reading, music, board games, gardening

Clubs / Organizations: AOSA, Sport Vision Club, Contact Lens Club, Ocular Wellness & Nutrition Society, Rural Optometry, Student Ambassadors


Nancy Truong PhotoSamantha Feng

First Year


Undergraduate Institution: University of British Columbia
Major: Biotechnology
Hometown: Burnaby, British Columbia

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of the sense of community between students, upperclassmen and faculty. Everyone is super supportive which has made me feel welcomed and has encouraged to succeed. In addition to that the faculty and staff are invested in what they do and care about our learning and well being. Lastly, it is in the Pacific Northwest where there is a little bit of something for everyone!

Hobbies: Hanging out with family and friends, Netflix, sleeping, baking, finding good dessert places 

Clubs / Organizations: Canadian Association of Optometric Students (CAOS), Contact Lens Club, Occuar Disease Club, Student Ambassadors


Slayton Hargraves PhotoSlayton Hargraves

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: University of Alaska - Anchorage
Major: Natural Science
Hometown: Eagle River, Alaska

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose PUCO because of the people, the area, and the elite level of education it provides. Some of the best doctors I've had the chance to work with are Pacific alumni. Most importantly though, the sense of community and support I saw here was unparalleled among the optometry schools I've visited. You also can't beat the beautiful PNW.

Hobbies: Hiking, Skiing, Snowboarding, Mountain Biking, Cooking, Reading

Clubs / Organizations: Amigos, Contact Lens Club, Rural Optometry, Ocular Disease, Private Practice


Jordyn PhotoJordyn Olson-Merrick

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: Gustavus Adolphus College
Major: Biology
Hometown: Duluth, MN

One reason I chose Pacific: I decided to go to Pacific mainly because of the unavoidable sense of community I felt (even virutally) throughout the application process. I could tell that my future classmates, faculty, and professors were individuals who cared about one another and were going to truly care about my success. Additionally, I loved the emphasis that Pacific puts on its outreach opportunities. I wanted to attend a school that I could receive a well-rounded optometric education while also impacting the communities around me. An additional perk of Pacific for me was its location. Who wouldn't want to move somewhere where you can snowboard and surf in the same day?!

Hobbies: Hiking, running, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, camping

Clubs / Organizations: Sports Vision Club, Contact Lens Club, AOSA, OWNS, Student Ambassadors


Risa HedgesMichelle Paul

First Year

Undergraduate Institution: University of Victoria
Major: Microbiology
Hometown: Saskatchewan, Canada

Hobbies: Hiking, eating good food, cooking

Clubs / Organizations: Canadian Association of Optometric Students, Contact Lens Club, Ocular Disease Club, Amigos, Student Ambassadors


Tina Lee PhotoEvan Schroeder

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: New Mexico State University
Major: Biology
Hometown: Las Cruces, NM

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific for a number of reasons. My aunt and uncle are alumni here, they have very good school statistics, and they participate in the WICHE program. In addition to this it's in the great Pacific Northwest!

Hobbies: Snowboarding, Wakeboarding, Surfing, Cars, Cooking

Clubs / Organizations: AOSA, Rural optometry, Student Ambassadors


Tina Lee PhotoRheanne Van Spengen

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: University of Alberta
Major: Immunology
Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific for a few reasons. The first reason is the sense of community between all staff and students. I know that there are always people around to support me! Also, Pacific is well known in the optometry community and I had always heard great things about the school and Forest Grove in general! Between the last two points and always wanting to explore the Pacific Northwest, Pacific seemed to be the right choice for me!

Hobbies: Baking, cooking, finding new restaurants, hiking, skiing and discovering new netflix shows!

Clubs / Organizations: CAOS, Contact lens club, Ocular disease club, OWNS and student ambassadors


Irene PhotoIrene Yang

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: University of Nevada - Las Vegas
Major: Biological Sciences
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific University because of their sense of community throughout the students and faculty. Everyone here is very welcoming and supportive. They want you succeed in your academics and career. The PNW is also a great place to be!

Hobbies: Yoga, Dancing, Hiking, Sleeping, Trying new restaurants and coffee shops

Clubs / Organizations: AMIGOS, Contact Lens Club, Ocular Disease Club, Ocular Wellness & Nutrition Society (OWNS), Private Practice Club, Student Ambassadors


Tina Lee PhotoSamuel Yun

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: California State University, Dominguez Hills
Major: Ecology
Hometown: Chino Hills, CA

One reason I chose Pacific: PUCO was the right choice for me because literally from day one of application, they made me feel wanted. They took their time to help me through the process and when I got accepted, made me feel like I was part of this family. Everyone was and still is so helpful and willing to go that extra "Diopter" to SEE me succeed. Also, I knew this program was going to be difficult and I wanted to surround myself with an area that helps me feel at ease. That is what I found in Oregon and especially here at Pacific University of Optometry.

Hobbies: Camping, hiking, biking, running, basketball, watching tv, cooking, eating, listening to good music, and have a good conversation!

Clubs / Organizations: AMIGOS, AOA, AOSA, Ocular Disease Club, Rural Optometry Club