Meet Jennifer Verrett, Class of 2021
As a second grader, Jennifer Verrett had her first experience working closely with an optometrist.
“I'm pretty highly nearsighted, so I had to get glasses,” said Verrett. It was during these visits that the seed of becoming an optometrist was planted. “I ended up seeing my optometrist a lot during my elementary school days, learning a lot about how optometrists help to improve their patients’ lives,” said Verrett.
Verrett says she has always had a desire to pursue a career in health care, and after taking the opportunity to shadow an optometrist in high school, she officially made the choice to pursue optometry – feeling that the profession would offer a nice balance between home and work life. After completing three years of her undergraduate degree at the University of Regina, Verrett was accepted to Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science, with the goal to study and practice in Canada.
Now, four years later, Verrett is ready to enter the profession after receiving her Doctor of Optometry. As Verrett reflects on her time at Waterloo, she says ultimately what she is most grateful for is the life-long friendships she’s made with her classmates. “My classmates have made my experience at Waterloo the best it could possibly be,” said Verrett. “I think I can base a lot of my success on their support, and I am so grateful to know they’ll always be there for me throughout my career.”
In addition to being a strong student, Verrett was an active volunteer within the program, serving as a student liaison for the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and welcoming new students to the program during Orientation week. Verrett also participated in an optometry mission trip with Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) in 2019, travelling to Senegal to set up clinics and provide eyecare to underserved communities. During this trip, Verrett provided eye exams to many people who had never had the opportunity to experience an eye exam before – an experience Verrett says only reaffirmed her passion for helping people through the profession.
When asked to share any words of wisdom with new students, Verrett says she hopes students don’t get too overwhelmed by all the textbook material, and instead take the time to focus on how they can deliver exceptional patient care. “In my fourth year, it really clicked for me that we don't have to know absolutely everything. Optometrists engage in lifelong learning throughout their career, and we’ll have many opportunities to engage in new learning and research,” said Verrett. “I think where I really grew during my time at Waterloo was to learn how to become a good clinician.”
While board exams have been delayed due to COVID-19, Verrett is looking forward to launching her career at Olds Eyecare Clinic in Olds, Alberta – the clinic where Verrett completed her first clerkship rotation.
“During my clerkship, I really fell in love with the town,” said Verrett. “Starting my career in a small town where we don’t have immediate access to ophthalmologists, I know I will have an important role to play in treating and managing disease for many of my patients.”