Richard Phan: The Future of Optometry

Major: Biology
Year: 4th year
Hometown: Fullerton
Fun fact: I have a baby marginated tortoise
What organizations are you involved in at UCR?
 I am involved in the Health Professions Advising Center (HPAC) as a mentor of optometry, I am the clinic coordinator of Precision for Vision (pre-optometry), and an Supplemental Instruction (SI) leader for Biology. Off campus I am in intern at the vision enhancement center in Riverside and a volunteer at the Orange County Braille Institute.
How has your involvement in these organizations impacted your time at UCR?
My involvement in these organizations has made being part of the UCR community more fulfilling. I was given the optimal opportunities and the best resources to excel and pursue graduate school. HPAC was the first organization that I had exposure to on campus. The staff guided to my health career and now I get to return the favor and help my mentees on their journeys.  Precision for Vision provided me access to the best resources (interning, shadowing exposure, and life-long friendships with like-minded peers).
Why did you choose to come to UCR in the first place?
I primary choose UCR because of the successes my three older sisters had in the UC system.  They are all currently working professionals.  One sister is a pharmacist another is a physician’s assistant, and the last is in international lawyer.
What are your plans after college? Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
After graduating this Spring I will be attending UC Berkeley’s Doctor of Optometry program.  I plan to finish the program within 4 years and within 5-10 years I hope to own my private practice in Southern California while doing international work in Tecate, Mexico.
What has being an SI leader taught you? How did you first get involved in it/why did you decide to become one?
I first became involved in the SI program as a freshman in the CNAS learning community.  As a freshman I admired all of my SI leaders.  I thought it was incredible how these undergraduates can balance their own work while devoting the time to help students.  Paige Stevenson and Jonathan Pham were the two SI leaders who motivated me to apply for the job as SI leader.  Their styles of presenting information to students were completely unique and I really saw the results in my work as well as my peers when attending SI sessions. I thought to myself it was worth a shot to interview for the position because I love biology myself and I find a lot of reward when a students has that "AH-HA” moment when the material seems to click.
What is your current role in the Precision for Vision Club? How long have you been involved in it? What are some of your responsibilities? How has this role affected you as a person? What has been the most most rewarding part of being part of this club?
A year ago I was President of Precision for Vision and now this year I am the clinic coordinator.  I’ve been in PFV since winter quarter of freshman year, so almost 4 years now.  As the clinic coordinator I choose active members to attend our clinic in Tecate, Mexico to shadow doctors of optometry as well as ophthalmologist (eye surgeons).  We follow and observe the surgeons and operate the dispensing and pretesting rooms for the low income and underserved population in the area.  Tracking my own growth in the club I owe much of my maturity to being active in PFV.  Having great role models and leaders every year I took a little bit of what I liked about each person and assimilated it in my own personality. I became more responsible and accountable for my actions knowing many people relied on me to complete my jobs.  The most rewarding part of being in PFV looking back on my growth and finally reaching my dream school but  importantly I can use my knowledge now to encourage and support others to follow the same path to their goals.
The most important question of all: Team Edward or Team Jacob?
Anything else you would like to add?
Here is my advice to students out there who are in pursuit of graduate school or a health profession.  Look at your goals and break it down. Take it quarter by quarter and step by step.  I found success in having 5 realistic goals each quarter in order to challenge myself and having it on my desk every day to remind me. [1) hold a GPA above a 3.5,  2) Dedicate 15mins a day to read the Bible, 3) Find a shadowing opportunity, 4) be active in one organization,  5)  Etcetera].  All these steps come together in the end.