Though they initially met and became friends in the Fall of 1979, it would not be until third year of their optometry program that Scott Mundle (OD ’83) would ask out Michelle Georgi (OD ’83). A decision neither regret as it developed into a partnership with a dedication to patient care, outreach, and volunteerism.
Over the years as they got to know each other before their romantic relationship came to be, Scott and Michelle got to know about their common and individual interests. They both knew early on that they wanted to pursue a career in the field of healthcare. Scott knew at a young age that becoming an optometrist would provide him with the best work-life balance. Michelle, originally intending on getting into medicine, would end up having such a positive experience with her optometrist that it would change her focus to vision care.
“When I first met my optometrist, I was really blown away by his caring attitude and the quality of the exam. So, I started exploring optometry a little more,” says Michelle.
This decision to change from nursing to optometry was one that would be life-altering. While intense, the optometry program was robust with an outstanding faculty. The small but close-knit community gave them a nice family-feel providing a supportive atmosphere. The guarantee of a fulfilling career after graduation also helped keep them motivated to work hard.
Despite the busyness of schooling, this did not stop Scott and Michelle from participating in extra-curriculars. The duo took part in a variety of sporting activities, including squash, curling, basketball, and even being part of the annual Corneal Cup Hockey Tournament. Both Scott and Michelle took their fond memories and connections made with fellow classmates with them as they entered their careers.
After graduating in 1983, the duo made the decision to move somewhere neither had been before. With Scott being born in British Columbia, raised in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and Michelle growing up in Ontario, they decided on Manitoba. However, while they journeyed together to a new province, they would go on to work in separate practices.
Dr. Georgi would work briefly in someone else’s practice before ambitiously opening her own, as she had the desire to ensure she could give her patients the best services she knew were available. Dr. Mundle would join a two-person practice, where he would remain for his entire career. He eventually became a partner in the practice, which grew to six optometrists before his retirement.
“I love working with people. I love being in a position where I can help somebody able to see to the best of their ability,” says Dr. Mundle. “Doing this for 38, 39 years, we were both very honoured that we had a lot of patients that were lifelong patients. And then they start bringing in their children and then their grandchildren. It shows you how important the care we provide them is. Being part of a community is so important.”
Drs Georgi and Mundle feel one of the most fulfilling parts of their career was also in the outreach to other communities that need care but lack in receiving it properly. They both often travelled to Northern Manitoba to provide care to remote Indigenous communities.
“I’ve been in so many different situations that I never thought I would see myself in and all because of optometry,” says Dr. Georgi. “It was such an amazing experience because we got to meet people we never would have probably met in an urban setting. It was eye-opening in terms of seeing lack of housing. Lack of services. Yet, the people there were so, so warm and kind.”
Volunteerism is also something that is of great importance for both Dr. Georgi and Dr. Mundle, as they believe volunteerism allows for positive change and community bonding. It also allows them to meet new people and have enjoyable experiences that remind them why they decided to become optometrists.
Even into retirement, volunteering continues to be a big part of their lives. Dr. Mundle stays involved with countless organizations. He was once part of the Global Myopia Awareness Coalition, now he volunteers for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and is an executive on the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.
Both Dr. Mundle and Dr. Georgi also continue to give back to the University of Waterloo and the School of Optometry & Vision Science, as they work hard to garner support for the Seeing Beyond 2020 Campaign to help build the Waterloo Eye Institute. They have a dedication to the place where they prepared for their careers. The place they met and fell in love. The place where they learned to dedicate their lives to helping others. This is the legacy Scott and Michelle want to leave behind.