Q& A: Legacy Family - The Werners

Werners - 1980sLike many institutions, Salus has its fair share of legacy families, especially within its founding College, the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO).
 
Annette Zamboni-Werner, OD ’89, recently submitted her story of meeting F. Joseph Werner, OD ’88, at PCO. Married in 1990, they will celebrate 29 years of marriage this June.  And, they have four children - Alex, Andy, Adam, and Anita - of which the two oldest are current Optometry students at Salus.
 
Both Alex ‘19OD and Andy ‘21OD recently discussed what it’s like to be a current student, attending at the same time as a sibling, and part of a legacy family.
 


Growing up, with your parents as optometrists, did you always know this is what you wanted to do?

Werners - Legacy FamilyAlex: Well, when I was a kid I first wanted to be an archeologist, and then an architect, but I think that was a product of my love of Jurassic Park and The Sims. I started working for my parents' business in high school, just doing general office work. I can say that filing papers and putting stickers on charts was not my calling, that's for sure. But, eventually I worked my way up and trained in lens crafting and polishing with our lens edger and fitting them to frames, along with inspecting glasses and receiving shipments. This is where I started enjoying it more, and I took a lot of pride in the quality of my work. I was then trained as a scribe, and then as a technician before learning how to sell and dispense glasses, which was my first step into the world of direct-patient care. Seeing the faces of real, happy people and knowing that I made a difference was an incredible feeling, and one I've desired to chase ever since.  Plus, optometry is in my blood. It's a win-win.

Andy: It was a thought that was always in the back of my mind. Once I started working at the practice during the summers of high school, I decided that optometry was a career that I wanted to pursue.

Did you know early on that you would attend Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry?

Alex:  It was the only institution I applied to... good thing I got accepted!

Andy: I believed that I would most likely attend PCO, but I made sure to interview at other schools in order to make an informed decision.
 
What it is like to go to school at the same time as your sibling?

Werners Legacy FamilyAlex: It's nice, sometimes I wish we were the same year so we could be studying the same material together, but we've helped each other out a lot, and I never felt bad about asking him to be my practice patient, blinding him with lights and dilating agents on the regular! Of course, the tables were turned during his practical training semesters, so I'd say we're even... my family only lives an hour away, so they always come down and we all get together a few times during the semester for sporadic family outings.  It's different this semester, being out on rotations and studying relentlessly for boards – I haven't seen him as much as I'd like, but I know he's always there for me. In fact, I have another brother in his second year of college who is considering coming here (if we haven't scared him away yet, that is!)

Andy: I am extremely fortunate that my older brother’s time here overlapped with mine. If I have any questions or am looking for advice, Alex is my go-to guy.  It has always been that way, and it always will be. Werner vs. the world is the mentality that we always embrace.

What do you look forward to after graduation?

Alex: After being released from this institution with my doctorate in hand, I look forward to taking a nice, long, well-deserved vacation. Somewhere that's all-inclusive. And after that, I look forward to making some MONEY so I can pay off these loans! And also, you know, helping people see and all that. But seriously, I need to start making some money.

Andy: After graduation, it is my dream to join the family business and become a part of Werner Eyes of the Valley in Walnutport, Pa. Joining my mother, father, and brother in practice (with two younger siblings on the way) will help turn the Werner legacy into a dynasty.

Werner Family
What are your next steps after graduation?

Alex: Work for The Man... that is, for my dad at my family's practice. I'm excited to work alongside him and take in years of optometric experience, and learn how to run a successful business. My parents built their practice from the ground up and I have a ton of respect for that. It really is the American Dream. From there, it's wherever the wind takes me. I'd love to expand upon the practice, and eventually open another office somewhere. But, let's graduate first.

Andy: The next step will be to join Werner Eyes of the Valley.