Salus Post-bacc Program Helps Student Pursue Career Dreams
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Salus Post-bacc Program Helps Student Pursue Career Dreams

When Kaylea Ellison, PBHS ‘22, got rejected from all the optometry schools to which she had applied, she described it as “gut-wrenching.” But it also strengthened her resolve to find another path to achieve her goal of becoming an optometrist.

kellison-headshot1She then discovered Salus University had a Post-baccalaureate program, which meant her career dreams potentially wouldn’t get derailed.

“I reached out to the Admissions office and they all told me that I needed to retake the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) and get a really good score or do a post-bacc program,” said Ellison. “I did not know what a post-bacc program was - I had to do my research and I found that Salus had a Post-bacc program. I was super-excited because Salus (the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO)) was my No. 1 choice for optometry.”

And, that turned out to be the right opportunity. After being accepted into and completing the Salus post-bacc program, Ellison is now back on her career path. She will start optometry school in the fall at the PCO/Salus.

Originally from the Upper Marlboro area in Maryland, Ellison first became exposed to the possibility of optometry as a career in high school. She knew she liked science, but was unsure where that would lead her.

Her high school had a new pharmacy program, and she was in the first cohort her senior year. The class was taught by a licensed pharmacist and included working in the lab and traveling to other pharmacy schools. It also included discussions about other professions, including optometry, and that’s where Ellison’s interest was first piqued about the profession.

“It’s crazy because I wear glasses and contacts but I had never thought of optometry as a career option,” she said.

kellison-pic3Ellison would eventually go on to graduate from Towson University in Maryland, earning a degree in biology with a minor in psychology. Toward the end of her undergraduate studies, she secured a job as an optometric technician and spent a year and a half working there after graduation. That experience, and what she learned there, solidified her decision to pursue optometry as a career.

That dream continued to advance when on April 11, 2022, Ellison received an email informing her that she had been accepted into PCO/Salus.

​“I was on hold previously, so I wasn’t expecting any emails from Admissions until the end of the semester,” she said. “So I woke up that Monday morning, checked my emails and saw ‘Congratulations!’ And, I literally screamed. I had to reread it a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. It’s been a struggle to get to that point, so just seeing that email was a nice, beautiful moment for me.”

kellison-pic2That wasn’t all of the good news that was to come Ellison’s way. The Black Eyecare Perspective Pre-Optometry Club (BEPPOC) — a nationwide optometry club for minority students that provides resources and mentorships — had a video contest and Ellison’s video about her career pursuits and aspirations won her a BEPPOC scholarship.

But it was the post-bacc program at Salus that provided the link Ellison needed to continue the pursuit of her professional goals.

“The post-bacc program was very crucial. I actually needed it. I wasn’t mentally prepared for grad school,” she said. “In the program, I was able to learn better techniques for studying where I could actually retain the information and continue to use it moving forward. I’ve been able to grow as a student a lot more. And, it helped as a transition period before optometry school.”

For more information about applying to Salus University’s Post-bacc in Health Sciences and the Post-bacc with a Speech-Language Pathology track, click here.

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