January 17, 2024
Angela E., an alumna of American Career College, recounts how she serendipitously entered the optical industry. In 2014, she faced a layoff from her position as a bus driver. Presented with the opportunity of tuition reimbursement for retraining, Angela initially pursued a career as a dental assistant. However, it was during an optical technology course that she realized the optical dispensing program aligned better with her interests.
“I’ve been wearing glasses since I was in high school so learning the technical and medical side of why I wear glasses and how they were made was exciting,” Angela recounted. “I actually loved the program so much to where I said, ‘You know what? I am going to take a stab at it.’”
Angela was captivated by the technical and medical aspects of optical technology. The ACC program covered everything from office procedures to the anatomy of the eyes, along with different types of eye diseases and how glasses work. Angela described the program as fun and interactive.
“We learned how to cut lenses and measure a person for contacts. Learning how to use the equipment was the fun part for me.”
The engaging and interactive classroom environment left a lasting impression.
“I am a hands-on, visual learner and it kept me intrigued,” Angela said. As an older student, Angela earned the affectionate nickname "Class Mom" from her younger peers. “We tutored each other and had accountability partners when it came to tests and studying.”
Angela’s externship at a local eye clinic was a turning point in her time at ACC — she gained real-world experience that jumpstarted her career.
“I got the chance to make and fabricate prescription lenses as a student,” Angela said. “Then they hired me literally right when I was done with my extension hours.”
Angela currently serves as an optical manager and optician for a luxury eyeglasses company where she oversees prescription orders, conducts measurements on customers, and reports optical sales to corporate. In addition to her managerial role, she runs her own optical business, known for selling prescription eyewear with a flair for fun frames.
Her business, found on Instagram at @irisbrowneyespot.shop, showcases her passion for design and unique styles.
“I’m known for my fun side of styling,” Angela said. “I like to put people into something out of the ordinary, that they’re not used to. I put them in a bright red frame versus plain black.”
In the years since finishing her program, Angela has remained connected to her alma mater — from appearing in commercials and billboard prints to interacting with current students. Angela is grateful for not only her education but the way ACC shaped her professionally.
“If they need someone to come in and speak to the students, I volunteer time to help them study for their certification test,” Angela said. “A lot that I picked up from ACC is how to present yourself. They did a lot to help my confidence.”
Reflecting on her journey, Angela remembers her 2015 graduation with fondness.
“My best memory was graduation,” Angela said. “I had my daughter with me, and I dedicated my entire graduation and education to her because I was securing her future and showing her it’s never too late to go back to school.”
Her advice to current students is to persevere and see the program through, regardless of the inevitable challenges.
“It may get difficult. You may go through personal things in life but let the education be the focus to get you out of that situation and into something better.”
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