Michael Gowen, OD‘87

michael-gowan.jpgWhy did you choose your particular profession?
My family eye doctor was Harvey Horowitz, OD ’53. He changed my life when he fit me with contact lenses in the summer of 1975. I was a 15 year old kid with no confidence in horrible glasses with thick lenses and had no social life because of them. After getting the contacts, I lived a "Cinder-fella" story. When school started I was instantly one of the "boys to catch". I was stunned at how much attention I was getting from the girls, some of whom wouldn't have given me the time of day before, and for the first time in my life I had some confidence. Athletically, my improved performance was directly due to the contacts -even coaches noticed the dramatic change- as did a few of the cheerleaders. Compared to my life before, it was like heaven. So I thought to myself at the age of 15 1/2 that all of this was from a simple pair of contact lenses, and the caring family doctor, who took a personal interest in me as well. He was always so kind to me. So I inquired about optometry on my next visit. Everything he told me made me excited about the field, but what really I wanted the opportunity to help kids like me: to help change their lives, and to make a difference in people's lives as Dr. Horowitz had made in mine. I was hooked, and from that moment Optometry was where I was going.

Tell me about your time at Salus/PCO. Why did you choose to study there?
Dr. Horowitz encouraged me to go to PCO because of his experience there. He told me it was among the best schools in the world for Optometry,so that was all the convincing I needed. I never even considered or applied another school.

What are some of your favorite memories from Salus/PCO – favorite classes, professors, classmates, clinical experiences, co-workers?
Neuro Optometry with Dr. Gray. Post exam parties. Going to a nursing ome with Dr. Verma, FAAO, FNAP, and working with SOSH (Students in Optometric Service to Humanity), Dr. Irving Bennet and my other great mentor Dr. Harry Kaplan who taught me more than contact lenses.

Tell me about your life after Salus/PCO – where do/did you practice, how long?
I returned to Virginia and worked for Philip Dobken , OD’51, my third mentor from PCO, and after a few years moved to Shenandoah Valley, Va., in 1991 and have practiced there ever since. In 2015, I sold my three offices and now work there for the people who purchased them. I am 31 years in the field and I have never been anything but happy and fulfilled to have chosen Optometry and PCO. I’ve been with my wife, SallyAnn, for34 years, and we have four children and seven grandchildren. While retirement is a few years off, we believe Blacksburg , Va., is where we will go, although I have an interest in volunteering overseas. My particular interest is any Spanish speaking country, Africa, Calcutta, and India.

As Salus/PCO celebrates 100 years in 2019, what are your hopes for the college in the next 100 years?
Continued success and growth.