SonjaFor the on-campus programs at Salus, a large percentage of the student body hail straight from undergraduate institutions with the average age being 23-years-old. But for Sonja Makitan ‘23OD, that wasn't the case. Although she’s a traditional Doctor of Optometry student, she took a non-traditional route to the University’s Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO)

Makitan immigrated to the U.S. from Bosnia as a child, and in The College Tour segment focused on Non-Traditional Students, she enlightens the audience about the path she took to get to Philadelphia in pursuit of her optometry degree. 

After graduating with a degree in Communication Studies, she had careers as a paralegal, in banking, and in marketing, but she mentioned she never really knew what she wanted to do. 
“I was five years post undergrad trying to find a more challenging and fulfilling career path for myself. One afternoon I went in for my routine eye exam and was struck by my optometrist’s passion and her ability to help people in a tangible way,” she said. “I returned to work only to spend the rest of the afternoon researching optometry programs; the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University stood out as an all-inclusive, welcoming place for students of all types and at all stages in their educational journey.” 

Sonja and Jaskirat talking by the pondAt 30, Makitan found herself restructuring her life, in her journey for continued growth. “It was a great opportunity to reflect on my journey and how far I've come. Filming was really fun and the crew was so encouraging and helpful in calming my nerves. My favorite part was getting to film part of my segment with my mentee, Jaskirat Sahni, '24OD,” she said. 

As for advice for current students, Makitan encourages them to hit the ground running and put in the hard work but make sure to keep time for things that bring them joy. “I came to the United States as a fourth-grader who knew how to say, ‘Thank you very much’ and ‘An ice tea please,’ on the airplane. If you had told me that I was in a program and would become a doctor one day, I wouldn't have believed you,” she said about her amazing journey.