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A Direct Path to Optometry – Debt Free

Paige Smith and Alexus Cline

CEDAR BLUFF, VA – Two students at Southwest Virginia Community College are taking advantage of a unique pre-medical program that is putting them on a path toward earning a doctor of optometry degree after completing their associate degree. 

Alexus Cline and Paige Smith are expected to finish their Associate of Arts and Science degree in May 2021, with a major in sciences and pre-medical specialization.  This fall they will transfer to the University of Pikeville, Kentucky College of Optometry.

Plus, thanks to a tuition-free programs at Southwest, they will be able to begin their next educational step without any overhanging student debt.

“By starting out my educational journey at Southwest, I was able to not only achieve a doctorate degree two years sooner, but I also received my education completely free by participating in my county’s tuition free program,” said Alexus Cline.

Entry into some professional schools can be accomplished with credentials earned at Southwest, without the need of completing a bachelor of science degree.  “The program allowed me to complete my prerequisites for optometry school in two years rather than four years,” said Smith. 

Smith is already looking ahead to life after she finishes optometry school and hopes to open her own practice alongside of her older sister. “I am looking forward to helping my community by bringing better access to eye care to Southwest Virginia,” said Smith.

Both Cline and Smith say classes at Southwest helped them to be prepared for the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) that is used to assess applicants to optometry schools.

“All of the science and math courses I took prepared me well for the OAT – especially physics, biology, general & organic chemistry, and anatomy. The curriculum in each of these classes went over nearly all of the material that I was tested on, and instilled in me the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed on the OAT,” said Cline.

Cline also says Southwest was more than just books and education. “I enjoyed every single class I took at Southwest, and that’s no exaggeration! I loved every professor I had class with and felt that their teaching styles made each class unique and enjoyable,” said Cline.

An articulation agreement between the two colleges allow all of Southwest’s online classes transfer to the University of Pikeville, College of Optometry. 

Southwest offers pre-medical tracks into a variety of medical fields such as optometry, pharmacy, dentistry and others.

Learn more about the pre-optometry path and our other pre-medical programs here:

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