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 2025

Tina Lee PhotoEmily Bittman

Third 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 - President

Third 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

Third 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

Third 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

Third 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

Third 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

Third 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

Third 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

Third 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

Third 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

Third 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


Class of 2026

Amber Bui Photo

Amber Bui

Second Year 

Undergraduate Institution: Louisiana State University
Major: Biochemistry
Hometown: Slidell, LA

One reason I chose Pacific: From my first encounter in undergrad to interview day, every interaction I had with PUCO was so warming and welcoming. Pacific stood out to me because of the supportive faculty, staff, and peers, the opportunities from having six different clinics, and the different electives and programs you can take with your optometry degree. Even being so far away from home, Forest Grove and Pacific has become my home away from home, and the community, uplifting environment, and friends have made the journey all the more worthwhile!

Hobbies: Foodie, traveling, cooking/baking, outdoors activities, arts and crafts, spending time with family and friends, napping, working out

Clubs / Organizations: NOSA, Contact Lens and Cornea Section Club, Ocular Disease, PPMG, Chinese for Optometry Course


Amber Bui PhotoKate Cooper

Second Year 

Undergraduate Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Major: Neuroscience
Hometown: State College, PA

One reason I chose Pacific: I like the unique opportunities each clinic offers, especially having a neuro rotation. The students were welcoming and didn't seem to have regrets about their choice of coming to Pacific.

Hobbies: Outdoor activities, swimming, biking, yoga, surfing, water polo, kayaking, traveling and exploring

Clubs / Organizations: Student Council, NOSA, Ocular Wellness and Nutrition Society, Rural Optometry Club, Ocular Disease club, Contact Lens Club, intramural soccer, Chinese for optometry course


Amber Bui Photo

Terina DeFries

Second Year 

Undergraduate Institution: Pacific University
Major: Biology
Hometown: Waimānalo, HI

One reason I chose Pacific: One of the biggest factors in my decision to attend Pacific University was the warm, welcoming environment. The faculty and staff at the College of Optometry are extremely supportive and care about each and every student. I heard that everyone at PUCO is "one big family" numerous times during my visit, but it really is true and I've experienced that for myself since day 1! Pacific felt like a place where I could truly succeed.

Hobbies: Spending time with family and friends, playing sports (especially volleyball), working out, being outdoors, and trying new food places

Clubs / Organizations: SVC, NOSA, CLCS, Amigos, Ocular Disease


Amber Bui Photo

Nikole-Marie Espino

Second Year 

Undergraduate Institution: Fashion Insititute of Design and Merchandising
Major: Fashion Design
Hometown: San Diego, CA

One reason I chose Pacific: I was drawn to Pacific University because of the location and the welcoming environment. As a nontraditional student, I felt beyond supported and celebrated for my unique background. PUCO offers endless resources and support to help their students thrive in all aspects!

Hobbies: Powerlifting, drawing, baking, and going to concerts

Clubs / Organizations: SVC, CLCS, NOSA, ODC


Amber Bui Photo

Dana Ferguson

Second Year 

Undergraduate Institution: Bishop's University
Major: Biological Sciences
Hometown: Revelstoke, BC

One reason I chose Pacific: I have a young daughter, and my husband and I knew we'd have to choose a school and town that would be a good fit for our family. PUCO was so warm and welcoming from the start of the admissions process, and I knew that Pacific University and the town of Forest Grove would be a great spot for us. The PNW is also so fun to explore!

Hobbies: Mountain biking, skiing, spending time with my family

Clubs / Organizations: NOSA, CAOS, Rural Optometry, PPMG, PAVA


Amber Bui Photo

Alexis Khauv

Second Year 

Undergraduate Institution: Pacific University
Major: Biology
Hometown: Bellevue, WA

One reason I chose Pacific: I was originally drawn to Pacific University’s undergraduate program because of the College of Optometry. As I came to Pacific, I fell in love with the atmosphere and people here. All the faculty, staff, and students at this school provided such a nurturing environment, where everyone was kind and helpful.

Hobbies: Spending time with family and friends, watching movies and shows, baking, trying new foods

Clubs / Organizations: AMIGOS, CLCS, ODC, AOSA, OWNS


Amber Bui Photo

Andrew Loisel - President-Elect

Second Year 

Undergraduate Institution: University of Washington (Seattle)
Major: Physiology
Hometown: Vancouver, WA

One reason I chose Pacific: 

Pacific was the only school I applied to, and for good reason! The program is full of friendly and knowledgeable faculty, the culture of the College of Optometry promotes a highly collaborative environment and the campus itself is safe, quiet, and close to home. My interview and tour day sealed the deal for me... maybe it will for you too!

Hobbies: Making music, watching movies, most sports, reading, trivia, cooking and going out to eat

Clubs / Organizations: AMIGOS, CLCS, Ocular Disease, Vision Therapy, NOSA, Sports Vision, Rural Optometry


Amber Bui Photo

Amanda McCarter

Second Year 

Undergraduate Institution: Union College
Major: Biological Science
Hometown: Eugene, OR

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because I loved the welcoming and supportive community among the students and faculty. You can tell that the professors really do care for their students and want them to succeed and the students themselves place an emphasis on learning together and improving together as a class. This sense of community along with Pacific's strong academic program and focus on serving the local area made me certain that Pacific was the right choice for me!

Hobbies: Spending time with family and friends, watching movies and shows, baking, trying new foods

Clubs / Organizations: AMIGOS, NOSA, ODC, FCO, CLCS, OWNS


Amber Bui Photo

Troy Neilson

Second Year 

Undergraduate Institution: MacEwan University
Major: Biology
Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta

One reason I chose Pacific: 

I was really drawn to the opportunity students have to practice in a variety of clinical settings at Pacific. There are several school clinics in the nearby cities, the mobile EyeVan clinic, numerous local outreach events, and many international trips we can be participate in. The other aspect that I really appreciated was the mutual respect faculty and students have for each other.

Hobbies: Any and all sports (particularly basketball, rugby, handball, skiing), horseback riding, learning Japanese, cooking, and spending time with family

Clubs / Organizations: AMIGOS, AOSA, CAOS, CLCS, Ocular Disease


Amber Bui Photo

Michelle Nguyen - Secretary

Second Year 

Undergraduate Institution: Oregon State University
Major: Biomedical Science
Hometown: Beaverton, OR

One reason I chose Pacific: 

Born and raised in Oregon and hoping to practice in the PNW, I was drawn to Pacific because of the strong local alumni network and outreach opportunities. My interactions with faculty and current students on my interview day made it clear to me that community is an important value of the program, which made me eager to become part of it.

Hobbies: Watching shows, working out, napping, trying new food places with friends, listening to music

Clubs / Organizations: OWNS, CLCS, NOSA, Vision Therapy


Amber Bui Photo

Kameron Piper

Second Year 

Undergraduate Institution: University of Missouri
Major: Animal Science
Hometown: Columbia, MO

One reason I chose Pacific: 

The Pacific family is what really made me decide to attend Pacific. The professors, faculty and student body all work together and to help you succeed. The cooperative aspect of the school has really helped me with learning and applying the material. The other big factor for me was the beautiful campus and all the opportunities offered by the PUCO. The school has a wide variety of clubs and events that can help you experience all aspects of the field in a fun and interactive way.

Hobbies: Hanging out with friends, Snowboarding, being outdoors, traveling, listening to music, playing with my pets and video games

Clubs / Organizations: Amigos, NOSA, CLCS, ODC, PPMG, SVC, Vision therapy


Amber Bui Photo

Claudia Solomon

Second Year 

Undergraduate Institution: University of Manitoba
Major: Science
Hometown: Winnipeg, MB

One reason I chose Pacific: 

I wanted a school that would cultivate an open and supportive learning environment. This much is true. Any school will show you their best face during applications and on interview day. But what really matters is if the school will deliver what they promise, and I can assure you that PUCO does.

Hobbies: Food trips, psychological-thriller films, catching nature views, deep talks with friends

Clubs / Organizations: SVC, CLCS, NOSA, ODC, Amigos


Amber Bui Photo

Lillian Truong

Second Year 

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

One reason I chose Pacific: 

I chose Pacific because it's so close to home, and my experience on interview day sealed the deal! Everyone was so welcoming- my peers, the faculty, and current students made it very obvious that they were enjoying their time here.

Hobbies: Spending time with friends and family, listening to music, reading, and watching movies and shows

Clubs / Organizations: AMIGOS, CLCS, Ocular Disease, OWNS, AOSA


Amber Bui Photo

Jacob Waldron

Second Year 

Undergraduate Institution: Pacific University
Major: Biochemistry
Hometown: Tillamook, OR

One reason I chose Pacific: 

I chose pacific because it was quite close to home and I went here for undergraduate study. I really liked the welcoming atmosphere and the people who make up it's community.

Hobbies: Hunting, fishing, hiking, sports, being with my dog

Clubs / Organizations: Ocular Wellness and Nutrition Society, Contact Lens and Cornea Section Club, PPMG, AOSA, Ocular Disease club, Rural Optometry club


Class of 2027

Payson Baker photoPayson Baker

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: MacEwan University
Major: Biology
Hometown: Raymond, Alberta

One reason I chose Pacific: I choose Pacific because of the conversations I have had with previous alumni. The atmosphere that they described was something that I really wanted in a graduate school. I felt that the staff and other faculty will do everything they can to help us achieve the goals that we have as students.

Hobbies: Golfing, reading, spending time with family, and trying new places to eat.

Clubs / Organizations: CAOS, Sports Vision, Student Ambassadors


Reyna Bodnar photoReyna Bodnar

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: Chaminade University
Major: Biology
Hometown: Aiea, Hawaii

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of the sense of community and support that the school and its students/staff provides.

Hobbies: Baking, making Origami cranes, making coffee

Clubs / Organizations: NOSA, Oc disease, VT club, AOSA, and contact lens club


Jules Bryan photoJules Bryan

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: University of Nevada, Reno
Major: Biology
Hometown: Reno, NV

One reason I chose Pacific: I choose Pacific because of the supportive environment and opportunities to be involved in my educaiton. All of the faculty, staff, and other students at PUCO are so welcoming and made the transition into graduate school so much easier. I also wanted to live in a place that had opportunities for exploring, and the PNW is perfect for getting outside.

Hobbies: Hiking, camping, backpacking, animals (especially dogs), and reading!

Clubs / Organizations: AOSA, Contact Lens and Cornea Section Club, Sports Vision, Rural Optometry, Private Practice Club, AMIGOS, Student Ambassadors


Abigail Hoepner photoAbigail Hoepner

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: Kansas State University
Major: Life Sciences
Hometown: Shawnee, KS

One reason I chose Pacific: Everyone at Pacific made me feel so welcome throughout the entire admissions process! The students and faculty made me feel right at home, and it was clear how focused everyone is on helping students succeed. I could see myself here getting a top-tier education while feeling supported and a part of a close community. I also love all the opportunities to get outside and explore in the beautiful PNW!

Hobbies: Hiking, reading, playing guitar, anything involving animals

Clubs / Organizations: AOSA, AMIGOS, Ocular Disease Club, Contact Lens and Cornea Section Club, Vision Therapy Club, Private Practice Management, Rural Optometry


Karah Hopgood photoKarah Hopgood

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: University of British Columbia, Okanagan
Major: Honors Biochemistry, Minor in Psychology
Hometown: West Kelowna, BC

One reason I chose Pacific: One of the reasons I chose Pacific was because of the close-knit campus community that the College of Optometry offered. Pacific really stood out to me as it fosters an environment of community over competition, and the support that was offered from the staff, faculty and students was unmatched. From my first email with the program, to my first time on campus, I felt welcomed and supported. At every stage along the way, from applying to accepting my offer and preparing to move as an international student, I received prompt communication, resources and support. As a Canadian student in particular, one of the qualities I appreciated about Pacific was the wonderful International office and their incredible support in helping students secure all required documents. Furthermore, another quality I admired about the school was the great emphasis on community outreach. The opportunities to get involved and give back to the community, including getting involved with the Eyevan, is a unique quality that demonstrates Pacifics’ commitment to service.

Hobbies: Hiking, exploring, travelling, baking, spending time with friends and family, reading, paddle boarding and yoga

Clubs / Organizations: Student Ambassadors, AOSA, AMIGOS, CAOS, PPMG, Ocular Disease, OWNS, Sport Vision, Contact Lens, Rural Optometry


Muskaan Jhutty photoMuskaan Jhutty

First Year 

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

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of its location (who doesn't love the Pacific Northwest?) and the sense of community that radiates from this institution. Faculty and peers are truly here to support one another, contributing to a educational community that emphasizes collarborative efforts and helping one another.

Hobbies: Crafting, swimming, diving, trying new cusines, biking, and spending time with family and friends!

Clubs / Organizations: Optometric Physicians of Washington, Contact Lens and Cornea Section Club, CAOS, OWNS, Ocular Disease


Zaahid Lalani photoZaahid Lalani

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: University of British Columbia
Major: Biology
Hometown: North Vancouver, BC

One reason I chose Pacific: Growing up on the Pacific Northwest, I felt right at home as soon as I got to Forest Grove. The engaging campus lifestyle, the endless opportunities for students and the extremely supportive and friendly staff and faculty members made Pacific University the best choice for me!

Hobbies: Playing soccer and pickleball, watching hockey, drinking coffee, catching up on the latest movies and spending time with family + friends

Clubs / Organizations: Sports Vision, Vision Therapy, OWNS, CAOS, CLCS, Ocular Disease


Catherine Leung photoCatherine Leung

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: McGill University
Major: Anatomy and Cell Biology
Hometown: Richmond, BC

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because many alumni have told me about the amazing support we get from classmates, upper year students, and faculty staff in the program, and I can sense the supportive environment.

Hobbies: Hiking, running, exploring new places and things, baking, playing piano

Clubs / Organizations: Contact Lens and Corena Section Club, CAOS, Ocular Disease


Grace ODell photoGrace O'Dell

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: Univeresity of Montana
Major: Integrative Physiology
Hometown: Gig Harbor, WA

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of the people. When you come to Pacific you join a family! Everyone here truly cares about each other and wants to see the others succeed. There is a culture of collaboration and respect among peers and faculty that made Pacific feel like the place where I could achieve all of my goals!

Hobbies: Hiking, baking, reading, working out, and spending time with friends and family

Clubs / Organizations: Contact Lens and Corena Section Club, Sports Vision, Vision Therapy, and Rural Optometry


Alicia Poovong photoAlicia Poovong

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: University of Calgary
Major: Plant Biology
Hometown: Calgary, AB

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific University because of the sense of community and support between the students and faculty. Everyone at the College of Optometry are supportive and truly care about one another. I also chose Pacific because it's location would give me the opportunity to explore the great PNW!

Hobbies: Hiking, painting, baking, biking, crocheting, trying new places to eat

Clubs / Organizations: Contact Lens and Cornea Section Club, CAOS, Ocular Disease Club, Rural Optometry


Anna Reard photoAnna Reard

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: University of Minnesota
Major: Cellular and Organismal Physiology
Hometown: Fergus Falls, MN

One reason I chose Pacific: I chose Pacific because of the family atmosphere. When I visited Pacific for the first time, the inclusive community made it feel like home. The stellar faculty, opportunities to explore various interests, and ways to engage with the community make Pacific one of a kind. I knew that at Pacific, I would receive a phenomenal education, engage outside of class, make lifelong friends, and spend my free time exploring the PNW!

Hobbies: Paddleboarding, hiking, fishing, wake surfing, card games, dance, scuba diving, reading

Clubs / Organizations: AMIGOS, Vision Therapy, Sports Vision, Rural Optometry, Private Practice Management, Contact Lens and Cornea Section, Class Council, AOSA, Student Ambassadors


Allison Wilkes photoAllison Wilkes

First Year 

Undergraduate Institution: Pacific University
Major: Public Health
Hometown: Tillamook, OR

One reason I chose Pacific: Four years ago, I instantly felt welcomed at Pacific for their undergraduate program. Since then, Pacific has become my home and the support and closeness of the PUCO family has been like no other. Not only is PUCO an exceptional program with intelligent and caring professors and endless opprotunities, but I have already met and bonded with classmates that I know will be lifelong friends.

Hobbies: Running, hiking, swimming, skiing, reading, spending time with friends

Clubs / Organizations: AMIGOS, Ocular Disease Club, Contact Lens Club, Sports Vision, Rural Optometry, AOSA