Rosalie Bikoti, Speech-Language Pathology, Class of 2019
My name is Jackie Bikoti, and I am currently a first-year Speech-Language Pathology student here at Salus University. I received a bachelor’s of science degree from Towson University in Maryland, where I majored in speech-language pathology & audiology with a minor in Spanish. I chose to attend Salus University because of the small school feel and its emphasis on establishing an interdisciplinary approach with other health professionals.
I knew I wanted to be a speech-language pathologist when I took my first intro to speech course, but I had my “aha!” moment when I completed my clinical observations during my junior year. My favorite setting ended up being in a pediatric outpatient at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Md. . Here, I got to observe a variety of clients, from those with feeding difficulties to others that had experienced traumatic brain injuries. After the experience, my passion for the field continued to grow and has led me to Salus University. As a student ambassador, I hope to continue to share my passion for the school and for my program!
Outside of being in school, I love being involved with my church, spending quality time with friends and family, traveling, and finding fun spots to eat (so if you’re a foodie, let me know of some cool spots!).
Dominic Brown, Optometry, Class of 2020
My name is Dominic Brown and I am a second-year optometry student at Salus University, Pennsylvania College of Optometry. I am also on track to earn my master’s in Public Health with the end goal of optimizing access to vision care for LGBT families and serve as an entry point for LGBT families into the healthcare system. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County (UMBC), where I majored in biological sciences with a minor in psychology.
The reason I chose to come to Salus University was because of the camaraderie. All of the students both in my own graduating class and amongst all of the upperclassmen are not only willing, but also committed to helping one another to progress through the program. This sense of community is something that I enjoyed at both the community college and undergraduate levels of my education, and I am glad that it is something I can enjoy at Salus.
I am pretty much first generation everything in my immediate family. I’m the first to obtain an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, and the first to proceed into graduate school. I know what it is like to be pushed into the transitions that different schools can require. Thanks to my involvement and my familiarity with my peers and staff, those transitions were not difficult to accomplish. That ease was matched here at Salus.
At my community and undergraduate colleges, I held many leadership positions, including those within my honor society, pre-optometry society and student advisory boards. Currently, I also serve as the vice president for the Optometry class of 2020. As an ambassador, it is my hope that my experiences can be sought out as a resource among new and current students. It is important to me to maintain that sense of community and be a voice within it.
Kelsea Brown, Optometry, Class of 2020
Hello! My name is Kelsea Brown and I am a second-year optometry student at Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry. I received my bachelor’s of science degree at Xavier University of Louisiana, majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. I am originally from Memphis, Tenn., a southern city completely opposite from that of Pennsylvania. Why travel such a great distance, you ask? I was ultimately ready for a positive graduate experience. The Pennsylvania College of Optometry here at Salus University attracted my attention in many aspects. There was an immediate familial bond felt during my interview. The early clinical experience and their admirable education foundation that they have built was more than enough to allow me to fall in love with the institution.
My first-year optometry experience was one to remember. I was able to gain an abundance of knowledge in such a short amount of time. My first year as an ambassador was definitely rewarding. I am glad I was able to participate in the many on- and off-campus events, as well as lend a helping hand when it was needed. As an ambassador, we are the voice of the institution and the glue that continues to hold everything together. We aim to promote the mission and goals of Salus. I, myself, add my compassionate, open-minded, and charismatic personality to this great institution.
I also love to volunteer in any way that I can, travel, and do a little retail therapy in my spare time. Although the work load can be a little intimidating and overwhelming, the faculty, staff, and all of the wonderful friends that I have made remind me each and every day that I undoubtedly made the right decision to attend. I plan on spending the next three years of my optometry journey learning new things and building wonderful relationships with others that I am sure will last a lifetime.
Madison Dunning, Optometry, Class of 2021
Hello, Salus community! My name is Madison Dunning, and I am a first year Optometry student here at Salus University Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO). I was born and raised in Burlington, N. C. I graduated from UNC Wilmington with a bachelor’s of science degree in biology and a minor in studio art in December 2016.
I miss living so close to the beach and the South, but I really wanted to get out of my comfort zone and experience what it’s like to live near the big city of Philadelphia – and it’s certainly a beautiful and thriving place to be. I worked as an optometric technician for an inspiring group of successful optometrists, all of whom are alumni of PCO. They helped cultivate my knowledge of the profession, improve my skills, and they continue to serve as my role models. During my time at UNCW, some of my favorite leadership memories are from when I served as the president of Omicron Delta Kappa and as a study abroad ambassador.
I enjoy meeting new people, building up our community, and leading by example – and this is exactly what we get to do as ambassadors every day! I chose Salus because of the patient-centered care that Salus advocates, and the institution’s established reputation and history. The welcoming environment at Salus is truly special. Everyone is always willing to lend a helping hand, and I guarantee you’ll feel at home as soon as you walk in the door. As a student ambassador, I am honored to represent Salus University, promote “one Salus,” and I appreciate being able to give back to our community.
Amanda Feinberg, Occupational Therapy, Class of 2018
Hello, my name is Amanda Feinberg and I am a second year Occupational Therapy Student. I grew up in Bel Air, Md. and attended undergrad at Salisbury University where I received a bachelor of arts in psychology. At Salisbury, I was involved in a sorority for four years. I developed many skills through this experience such as creative thinking, public speaking, event management, and time management skills which serve me well as an ambassador. The sorority gave me the opportunity to embrace many community service activities, which led me to love the feeling of giving back. I wanted to give back to people who are in need of love, care and compassion. This gave me the desire to become an occupational therapist. I fell in love with the desire to help people in need and assist them in gaining the skills needed to perform essential activities of daily living.
As I was looking for a graduate program, Salus really stood out to me because of the welcoming environment it has to offer. I gravitated toward Philadelphia as a whole since I have never experienced living in a city. I also was involved as the president of the Student Occupational Therapy Association from September 2016 to September 2017. When I am not studying, I enjoy doing arts and crafts such as painting and crocheting. I also love having Disney movie nights and taking vacations to Disney World. My “kid-at-heart spirit” and positive attitude serves me well in all my activities here at Salus.
Lauren Furicchia, Optometry, Class of 2021
My name is Lauren Elizabeth Furicchia. I choose Salus University for its clinical innovation, diversity and congenial environment. Currently, I am a first year Optometry student and I am honored to be a Salus ambassador.
I speak Spanish fluently, as I am of Cuban-Italian descent, from Miami, Fla. I graduated from Florida International University with a bachelor in business administration and attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz. Due to my interests in cultural diversity, I also studied abroad at the University of Salamanca, Spain. I am a recipient of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award and the FIU Medallion for Civic Engagement. I have participated in service trips to the Dominican Republic and preschool vision screening events. Currently, I am secretary of the Salus Lions Club and have participated with the Miami Medical Lions Club, at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Florida. In my spare time, I enjoy race competitions and traveling. Learning and engaging with different cultures has been one of my favorite hobbies.
With the current advances in technology, I also have a passion for the detection of amblyopia, a leading cause of reversible monocular visual loss. I feel that this is an important public health concern and a field where optometrists can make a significant impact. As a student ambassador, I will strive to inspire others to find their personal passion to help make a difference, in our school and community.
Samantha Graver, Occupational Therapy, Class of 2019
Hi! My name is Samantha Graver and I am currently a first year occupational therapy student at Salus University. I graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Medical Diagnostics and a minor in Biological Sciences. I chose Salus because of the comforting and welcoming community presented immediately during the admissions process. After attending a large undergraduate institution, the small, student-focused atmosphere at Salus was important to me. Early fieldwork and clinical experience along with the importance of working with other health care professions made this program stand out even further to me.
I look forward to being a Salus Ambassador to work with my peers from other programs in order to make a common impact within and around the Salus community. I enjoy meeting new people and listening to others’ stories about life experiences and future goals. Outside of school, I am either taking yoga classes or running to clear my mind. I also enjoy day trips to the beach and finding new places to eat brunch.
Danielle Hayden, Audiology, Class of 2021
My name is Danielle Hayden and I am a first year Audiology student at Salus University Osborne College of Audiology. I received my bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology and audiology from Iona College in 2017. I was drawn to the audiology field through the internships and community service programs I had the unique opportunity to participate in during my time at Iona. I chose to attend Salus because of the extensive clinical experience that we gain and the friendly and inviting faculty. As a Salus ambassador, I am looking forward to working with the surrounding communities and creating relationships with the different departments on campus. Outside of my role with the ambassadors, I am a member of the Campus Activities Committee and an Admissions student assistant. I am very happy here at Salus, and I am excited to share my experience with potential new students. I am looking forward for all of the amazing things the next four years have in store for me!
Tessa Ives, Optometry, Class of 2021
My name is Tessa Ives and I am a first-year optometry student here at Salus University. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in natural science/pre-optometry from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the spring of 2017. I chose Salus because of the early clinical experience, many opportunities for student involvement, and the warm sense of community. I am excited to (hopefully) be the fourth Ives to graduate from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry and pursue a career in private practice. As an ambassador, I look forward to meeting students from other programs, networking with alumni and faculty, and representing the Salus community. Aside from school, I enjoy playing rugby, racing my horse in the International Barrel Racing Association and running.
Rachel Jhala, Optometry, Class of 2021
Hey y’all, welcome! My name is Rachel Jhala and I am a first year Optometry student here at Salus University. I was born in California but raised in North Carolina. I received my undergraduate degree in three years at East Carolina University with a major in public health.
I chose Salus because of the early clinical experience and the overall environment of the school. The students, faculty and staff on campus have been positive and supportive, since the moment I stepped foot onto campus. Being a past ambassador during my undergrad years has shaped my life greatly and has allowed me to reach out to the community is a multitude of ways. I want to carry on that impact here at Salus.
I have pet chickens at home and love taking care of them with my Dad. In my free time, I love to draw and paint. It’s one of the reasons why I have a passion for optometry—being able to connect it to art. Knowing that one day I will be able to help a patient see the finer details of life; that pushes me to do what I love.
Ryan Lawton, Optometry, Class of 2021
Hello, my name is Ryan Lawton, and I am a first year Optometry student here at Salus University. I grew up in New Jersey and attended Clemson University in South Carolina, where I recently graduated with a bachelor of science in biology. I chose Salus for many reasons, but the main two were for the clinical experience opportunities and the sense of community in the University. Everyone really wants to help each other out, both personally and academically, and it has helped make this transition to a new school much easier.
I come from a family that has always been very service oriented within our community, and I am no different. Being involved in the area I live in is very important to me. I kept busy at Clemson as an undergraduate TA, volunteering for the aftercare programs at the local elementary school, and in Greek life. I loved being a part of both the student and town communities during my undergraduate studies, and that is exactly what I hope to accomplish as a student ambassador at Salus.
Tasneem Maner, Optometry, Class of 2020
My name is Tasneem Maner, and I am a second-year Optometry student here at Salus University! I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Villanova University early as I am in the fast-tracked 3+4 Doctor of Optometry program. At Villanova University, I was a presidential scholar, president of the Pre-Optometry Club, co-founder of the Interfaith Coalition, and revitalized the Villanova Muslim Student Association. At Salus, I am a peer mentor, Optics TA, and an active member of several other organizations. Volunteering with the ambassadors is a fun study break for me, as well as getting active with the University’s intramural volleyball and dodgeball teams, work out classes, and hanging out with friends in and around Philadelphia.
I chose Salus University because as soon as I stepped on campus, it provided the same feelings of kindness, family, and mentorship as my previous institution. I love the University’s focus on clinical experience and doctor patient relationships, as well as how that extends to caring faculty-student relationships. As a Salus ambassador I have the opportunity to work with these faculty and students across different healthcare disciplines to make this campus feel even more like home for all, but also to step out and help out with healthcare beyond campus. That’s what I’m most excited about! With the help of a Salus University education, I hope to one day develop programs that focus on sensitivity training, enhancing the standard of vision-care, and dissolving drug misuse and doctor-patient disconnect in minority and low-income communities.
Samantha McMahon, Audiology, Class of 2021
Hi everyone! My name is Samantha McMahon, and I am a first year Audiology student here at Salus University. Before joining the Salus community, I grew up on Long Island, N.Y. and attended Towson University in Maryland, where I graduated with a bachelor’s of science degree in speech-language pathology and audiology. I chose Salus because of its drive for interdisciplinary healthcare between all of their programs, and the amazing opportunities to be in the clinic right from the get-go. I knew that Salus was going to be the right fit for me from the moment I stepped through the doors, and I know that being here for the next four years will prepare me greatly for the real world as a practicing audiologist.
I am so excited to represent Salus as a student ambassador and be able to show the surrounding community just how much we are doing for the future of healthcare. This year is going to be one of growing, learning, and experiencing everything that Salus has to offer, and I’m so happy to be able to have my fellow student ambassadors with me on this journey!
Andrew Muckin, Optometry, Class of 2021
My name is Andrew Muckin, and I am a first year Pennsylvania College of Optometry student at Salus University. Originally, I am from the small town of Tunkhannock, Pa. (near Scranton). Prior to enrolling at Salus, I graduated from Susquehanna University with a bachelor of science in biology and minors in chemistry and healthcare studies.
I believe optometry is one of the most exciting and impactful healthcare professions due to the roles an optometrist fulfills at the intersection of the prevention, treatment and management of visual deficiencies and ocular diseases. In addition, as a profession, optometry is unparalleled when it comes to building a lasting relationship with patients. I quickly realized that here at Salus, these aspects are placed at the forefront of everything we do, whether that takes the form of clinical experience in your first week of class, or the interprofessional community that you are a part of every time you step onto campus.
Outside of school, I love staying active (hiking, working out, fishing) and traveling (I once rafted over a 23-foot waterfall in New Zealand). Although I have just begun my journey here at Salus, the experiences I have already had only make me more hopeful and excited about my future here and as a practicing optometrist!
Maya Murray, Optometry, Class of 2021
Hello! My name is Maya Murray, and I am a first-year Optometry student at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. I am from New Jersey and went to school in New York at St. John’s University, where I graduated with a bachelor of science in biology and a minor in chemistry. I knew I was interested in optometry during the end of my high school career and have been working toward that goal ever since. Choosing Salus University was an easy decision for me. I was drawn to the early clinical experience, but I was sold on Salus when I saw the interprofessional emphasis and the genuine supportive nature of all of the students and staff.
When I am not studying, I enjoy working out, traveling, art, and of course, retail therapy! My first interaction with Salus University ambassadors was during orientation. They were all so helpful and approachable and I knew then, that I definitely wanted to be an ambassador. I am excited to get involved and create that same friendly experience with others!
Puja Patel, Optometry, Class of 2021
Hi! My name is Puja Patel and I am a first year Optometry student here at Salus University. I attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. where I obtained a degree in chemistry with a minor in religion. Carleton is an extremely small school that puts a large emphasis on the importance of community service and giving back. I felt the same giving environment at Salus University during my visits! I was born here on the East Coast, but lived in the Midwest my whole life. I thought it was time to give the East Coast a chance!
I chose Salus because of the early integration of clinical experience and the extremely welcoming environment it offers. Just in my first few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to meet students from all different programs and different areas of the world. The transition was tough at first, but once I got into a routine, I had no doubt I made the right decision!
My main reason for wanting to be an ambassador is to feel part of the community. As an ambassador, we represent the University as one rather than just our individual programs. We work together, volunteer in the community, and get involved!
Lindsay Saltsman, Audiology, Class of 2020
My name is Lindsay Saltsman and I am a second year Audiology student here at Salus University. I received my bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology from Buffalo State College in the spring of 2015.
I chose to attend Salus because it is a small school that offers many opportunities in both the clinical aspect and the ability to work hand in hand with other professionals. As a Salus ambassador, I have had the opportunity to represent the University in the community and advocate for the students.
In addition to being an ambassador, I am also involved with the Campus Activities Committee. I have truly enjoyed my time so far at Salus and am excited to see what the next few years will bring.
Emilie Seitz, Optometry, Class of 2020
Hello everyone, and welcome! My name is Emilie Seitz and I am a second year Pennsylvania College of Optometry student at Salus University. Before joining the Salus community, I attended The Ohio State University where I graduated with a bachelor of science in biology and a minor in women’s gender and sexuality studies.
I first became fascinated by optometry when a clinician taught me about ocular manifestations in survivors of domestic violence. Through this experience, I learned to value modes of education that approach medicine with a holistic lens. I was drawn to Salus University because of the inter-professional focus and the patient-centered care that the curriculum offers. As a student ambassador, I am excited to share this dialogue with others.
In addition to my ambassador role, I also serve as president of the Private Practice Club. In my free time you might find me making optometry student “day in the life” videos on my Instagram (@eyeseitz) or playing volleyball at the Hafter Center. Salus University has quickly become my home away from home. In the future, I hope to open my own private practice and head start a social media forum that educates the public on proper eye care for the health and longevity of all of our eyes.
Margi Shah, Optometry, Class of 2020
My name is Margi Shah, and I am a second-year Optometry student here at Salus University. I graduated from Franklin & Marshall College with a bachelor of arts in neuroscience.
I chose Salus because of the strong clinical preparation. We’ve already learned so many skills and concepts, and day by day, I become a stronger student doctor. I know that I will be a much more confident clinician upon graduating. But, it’s also working with the doctors and my classmates that make my time at Salus worthwhile. In addition, it is also easy to get involved on campus; all the organizations offer numerous leadership positions and are so inviting. It’s through these leadership positions that you’re able to foster stronger relationships with students from other programs and other years along with faculty. Aside from being an Ambassador coordinator, I am a peer mentor and Section D leader as well.
It is easy to take advantage of the University’s resources, professors, and much more. Because of it, I have met some amazing people who have become my family away from home.
Outside of school, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, exploring Philadelphia, binge watching television shows and traveling globally. (Fun fact: my name means “traveler”). Wave at me when you see me around campus!
Alina Swierski, Audiology, Class of 2020
My name is Alina Swierski, and I am currently a second-year Audiology student. I received my undergraduate degree in speech and hearing science from the University at Buffalo. I chose to attend Salus because of the strength of its Audiology program and the beautiful area adorned with trees and hiking trails. Salus stresses the importance of balance between studies and personal health; an ideology I strongly support as an example for my future patients.
As an ambassador, I look forward to continuing to network and represent Salus University in a variety of settings. I relish the opportunity to work with other students and faculty on a multidisciplinary team. My outgoing nature and positive attitude will continue to serve me well as an ambassador. I am also involved as a board member of the Athletics Committee. Outside of school I coach a local girls’ lacrosse travel team and enjoy a wonderful (sometimes several) cups of coffee. After graduation, I would like to work as an audiologist in either a hospital or research setting. I look forward to the new experiences that this year as an ambassador will bring!
Stephanie Thai, Optometry, Class of 2021
Hi! My name is Stephanie Thai and I'm a first-year Optometry student at Salus University. I received my bachelor of science degree in biology with a minor in mathematics from James Madison University, a huge university located in Southern Virginia.
I've wanted to be an optometrist since I was in third grade, and once I came to Salus for my interview, I knew that this was the place for me to make my dream come true! I was drawn to Salus because of the location. I grew up in Northern Virginia, about 45 minutes outside of D.C. so the proximity of Elkins Park to Philadelphia reminded me a lot of home. I also chose Salus because of the hands-on experience in the lab, the camaraderie between the students and faculty, and lastly because of the interdisciplinary degrees offered by Salus.
When I'm not engrossed by my studies, I try to push myself out of my comfort zone by exploring new areas, participating in different activities and trying new foods.
Valentina Truong, Optometry, Class of 2021
Every day, I miss my family and ask myself why I moved so far from my home in California. Well, allow me to explain. When I was a kid, I was the weird one because I enjoyed visiting the optometrist, while my seven siblings dreaded seeing any doctors. Optometrists seemed to genuinely like their job and were always so nice to me, so I wanted to be like that for other people.
During my time in undergrad at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona, I was president of the Pre-Optometry Club and completed my major in business with an emphasis in marketing, along with two minors: international business and chemistry. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go the business route or the optometry one, so I decided to try a combination by working at Kaiser Permanente, which introduced me to the administrative side of healthcare. During that time working in a cubicle every day, I found myself missing optometry.
After only a few weeks here at Salus, I know I’ve made the right choice. I am so fortunate to have been paired with a friendly and knowledgeable mentor who is a current ambassador (Hi, Tasneem)! It’s really nice to have a support system, and as a former RA, I always loved sharing the resources I found. Most of all, the community here is great. The professors are helpful and patient, and there are faculty and counselors that are ready to listen. Upperclassmen have been super helpful, and I feel like I meet someone new every day. I still miss my family, but I’m so glad to have made another home here! I also really enjoy all the resources and events the school has. Just as meeting friendly optometrists motivated me to pursue this field, having an amazing time here inspires me to be a student ambassador and show others how to have the best experience at Salus. Also, I really like the environment here and it’s just so green! My favorite part of campus is the beautiful pond and the friendly ducks.