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 2024

Joey Borrelli PhotoJoey Borrelli

Third 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

Third 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

Third 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

Third 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

Third 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

Third 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


Priya Purewal PhotoPriya Purewal

Third 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

Third 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

Third 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

Third 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

Third 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

Second 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-Elect

Second 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

Second 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

Second 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

Second 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

Second 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

Second 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

Second 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

Second 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

Second 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

Second 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

First 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

First 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

First 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

First 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

First 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

First 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

First 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

First 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

First 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

First 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

First 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

First 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

First 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

First 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