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Seeing the big picture

Vocation viewed through rose-colored glasses

Lee Shuwarger, O.D.
Age: 44
Occupation: Optometrist and owner of Unique Vision Care

Where did you receive your education?
University of Southern California in Los Angeles; The New England College of Optometry in Boston.

How has your education played a role in your life today?
It has allowed me to serve other people by helping them to see. It really makes my day when I see patients smile after trying on new glasses. It's a wonderful feeling knowing that I helped someone to see more clearly.

What was your greatest educational challenge and how did you overcome it?
There was simply no money available for my education. My parents encouraged me to seek higher education but were not in a position to contribute. I worked to afford my education.

What is the value of your education?
Value can mean many things. Having a higher education allows me to provide for my family monetarily and by taking time off to see my kids in a school play or by having a late lunch with my wife. Education has made it possible for me to help others by providing a service and through volunteer work. All of those things are of value to me.

What would you say to someone who's undecided about continuing their education?
I think that everyone at some time wonders if they are doing the right thing. I would tell them that I have met some people who wished that they would have continued their education but never got the chance to do so. But I have never met anyone who wished they didn't get as much education as they have.

When did you make education a priority?
Education was always a priority to me as long as I could remember. It was always expected of me to go to college.

What made you realize the importance of education in your life?
For college, I went to USC in Los Angeles. USC is located in a rough area of Los Angeles. The contrast was striking to me. Seeing that helped me appreciate the importance of education.

Did you ever think about quitting? What made you keep going?
I absolutely love my job, my patients and the people with whom I work. Some of my patients have actually had me over for family gatherings. Under no circumstances would I ever consider quitting.

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