College of Optometry Assistant Professor Naida Jakirlic, OD, FAAO, joined WesternU in 2014. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Pace University in 2008 and her Doctor of Optometry degree from SUNY College of Optometry in 2011.
Why did you choose the College of Optometry?
The College has an extraordinary culture that nurtures every individual who makes up its diverse family. From the first day I stepped onto campus for my interview, to present day more than six years later, I have experienced tremendous support as a faculty member that has allowed me to deliver the best educational experience to my students that I possibly can. At the center of every effort and initiative that the College puts forward is the success of our students, which is extremely important to me because I went into academia to be able to positively affect student experiences and education.
Why did you choose the profession of optometry?
Optometry is such a vast profession with an endless spectrum of practice opportunities. When I decided to pursue optometry, I was drawn to its wide scope of practice and the close relationships it would allow me to form with my patients. I have had the opportunity to practice in various settings ranging from private practice to hospital-based patient care, and I’ve found tremendous fulfillment in the diversity of practice modalities and patient interactions that I was exposed to during my relatively short career. The highlight of it all has been the ability to teach future generations of optometrists while still being able to actively participate in patient care.
What are your passions outside optometry? Passion projects?
I am very passionate about inspiring youth to become active and productive citizens in their communities. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with many youths over the past few years by serving as a youth coordinator at a local mosque. It has allowed me to mentor young women during some of the most challenging years of their lives. Through community service, sports activities, and private and group conversations, I’ve had the privilege to watch many of them transform into strong and capable individuals who care deeply about the world around them.
What is your current goal for professional development? What is your next “thing” or next professional goal? What is on your vision board?
To become much more technologically savvy in order to deliver the best possible educational experience I can to my students.
What gets you out of bed in the morning? What is your “why”?
Gratitude. Gratitude for my health, my family, my friends, my safety, my career, and endless other blessings that I experience every single day.
What is your favorite vacation spot? Or what is your dream vacation spot? Why?
Malaysia. Amazing beaches, amazing food, amazing people. I would go back over and over again if I could.