Now that you have heard about the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University’s Accelerated Doctor of Optometry Scholars Program through the lens of both students and faculty throughout the prior pieces within this seven part series, it's time to hear from two alumni who both graduated in the inaugural cohort in 2017. Sweta Das, OD ’17, and Carly (Grondin) Kiomall, OD ’17; MPH ’19, described their experiences since graduation day and how they felt the unique Scholars program prepared them for their current careers.
 
Das: My name is Sweta. Last name is Das. I graduated from PCO in 2017 from the Accelerated Scholars Program. What I loved about the program was the fact that while the 10 of us were busy learning about optometry, our professors, they were busy learning about how we learned best, and they were focusing their attention on how to help us learn the way we, in our unique ways, on a very individualized basis, how we learned best.
                               
I think that was really neat about the program, that it wasn't like an industrialized type of educational setting. It was more of a very one-on-one, very individualized focused learning, where they understood that each one of us had a very different way of learning and they helped us in our specific way that we needed to be helped. That's what I loved about the program.
                               
When I graduated from the Scholars program or as I was about to graduate, I had some very cool job offers from a neuro-ophthalmologist that is one of my personal heroes. I absolutely respect the neuro-ophthalmologist that I had the job offer from. At the time, I was also thinking about residency programs and I wanted to pay off my loans.
                               
When I graduated, I decided to pay off my loans first. I went and started working full time. In 2020, I actually completed my goal of paying off my loans. I don't own a thing, but I definitely paid off my loans. That's when I decided that it was time for me to do a residency since I always wanted to do one. And, I did. Right now I'm currently in a family practice residency at NSU (Nova Southeastern University). Honestly, I love that decision as well. Already I feel like I've learned so much more and I'm so excited to continue to learn.
                               
That's a little bit about me. If you have any questions or any concerns about choices and what to do, my suggestion is to pick one path and you can always, always pick others later on. But don't feel like you have to make the right decision because there's no such thing as right decision. Just pick your path and you can always do more. Best of luck on your journey wherever you are at.
  
Kiomall: My name is Carly Kiomall, formerly Carly Grondin. I am from Windham, Maine. I graduated from the University of New England with a major in medical biology and a minor in psychology. I graduated from the Scholars Class of 2017. After my graduation, I went on to do a residency in primary care in ocular disease through the Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center. After graduating from my residency in 2018, I began a position at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
                                               
During my time at CHOP, I was also able to complete my Masters in Public Health at Salus. I became a diplomat of the American Board of Optometry and a fellow of the Academy of Optometry. My husband and I then decided to move to the Metro Atlanta area to be closer to family when we started our own family. I am now working at a local optometry and ophthalmology practice in pediatrics.
                                              
I do feel that the Scholars program prepared me for the real world. By condensing my optometry education from four years into three, it set me up personally for that fourth year being the residency. And, then I was able to be residency trained within four years and hit the workforce that much sooner.
                                               
I do think that the Scholars Program is a good fit for those who are self-directed learners. That paired with the mentorship that you will receive can absolutely be a recipe for success.