Young interns inspired to change their lives after interning at Fresno eye clinic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A sudden need for help during the pandemic turned into a life-changing experience for some young employees at Eye-Q Vision Care Center.

When EYE-Q Vision Care Center was able to resume operations during the pandemic, it hired 30 student interns to screen customers, help at the desk, and wipe down surfaces at its three sites.

For many, it was their first job.

"I was home from school. I was trying to save up money because I was still paying rent for my apartment that I wasn't living at," says Kristian Erl, a senior at UC Davis.

Erl was set to graduate from UC Davis with a degree in Applied Mathematics.

But Erl's experience here opened his eyes to a new career.

"I had one or two semesters left. Now, switching, I'll have to take a lot of extra classes just to fit in a lot of prereqs for med school so I'll probably be adding another year or two of college," he says.

Claire Ikemiya is also now focused on pre-med studies.

She didn't expect the job would offer a clearer vision of her future.

Ikemiya says, "I kind of came to Eye-Q thinking, just a summer job, just getting a little bit of money for college. But then it's kind of like, no, this is a really great opportunity that's going to help me in my career."

Some interns learned how to put patients through eye tests.

But Dr. Campbell Waldrop was surprised to learn the job may inspire the next generation of health professionals.

Dr. Waldrop says, "It wasn't something we even realized when we started that that was gonna be potentially one of the outcomes. And it was so much fun to see these kids and give them that opportunity."

Eye-Q also designated a 'Zoom room' for the interns as many have resumed school. They can use the space to log into their classrooms around their work schedule.
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