By Judy Quinones, ABO-A, NCLE

My career journey resembles a winding road, shaped by unexpected turns and diverse experiences. Starting with a BA in Economics, I explored various industries from banking to petroleum, accounting, M&A, and nonprofits, accumulating a wealth of skills and knowledge along the way. A break as a stay-at-home mom unexpectedly led me to education as a substitute teacher, igniting a newfound passion for teaching and refining a different skill set altogether.

Amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, I embarked on yet another career transition, seeking a path resilient to external challenges. This journey led me back to school and into the dynamic field of opticianry. This decision signified a transformative shift, as I seamlessly combined analytical skills from my economics background with the communication and adaptability skills I honed during my years as a mom and teacher.

Now, as a licensed optician, I engage actively in industry boards and initiatives, extending beyond patient care. I co-lead the new OD and optician engagement subcommittee for the Optical Women’s Association, spearheading efforts to foster collaboration and advancement within the profession. Additionally, I serve on my state board and volunteer for nonprofits like Vision of Hope and OneSight, driven by a mission to elevate opticianry and promote access to vision care for those in need.

Beyond leadership roles, I’m passionate about sharing insights as a writer and speaker, advocating for continuous learning and professional development in the optical field. I utilize my platform aiming to inspire fellow opticians and career-shifters alike.

Opticianry offers diverse career paths— patient care through ownership, management, or employment roles, teaching, representing frame companies, writing, speaking, and providing mobile eye care for those unable to access traditional services, among others. It's a realm full of opportunities for impact, growth, and fulfillment, particularly in improving people's lives through enhanced vision.

Participation in industry events like the OAA Leadership Conference and Vision Expo is essential for staying informed and advancing professionally.

Whether you’re a seasoned professional contemplating a change or embarking on your first career, opticianry provides a canvas for innovation and growth. Are you ready to explore a career in which possibilities abound?

I see my life as an endless canvas, with countless opportunities to create positive change. Among these, I am committed to expanding access to vision care. In the immediate future, I aspire to transition into the corporate optical world, where I can actively contribute to industry progress and advocate for positive change. Ultimately, my dream is to lead a nonprofit organization, leveraging my skills, languages, and passion for opticianry.

My journey—from economist to optician—underscores the transformative power of passion and lifelong learning, as I integrate diverse skills and experiences into a fulfilling career. Through my story, I hope to inspire others to join me in embracing opticianry's abundant opportunities for growth and meaningful contribution.

Interested in pursuing a career in opticianry? Let's connect on LinkedIn. I'm eager to hear about your aspirations and how we can support each other on our journeys. After all, our stories are our own, enriched by connections and experiences.