Home Editorial Meet the Student Advisory Board: Ashlee Payne, NECO

Meet the Student Advisory Board: Ashlee Payne, NECO

Facing the Challenges, Both Personally and on Community Level

By Ashlee Payne, WO Student Advisory Board Member and NECO Student

Being a mother of two boys– 3 and 7 years old–I often hear, “How are you doing this with kids?” But I find that challenges are my motivation. I’ve always liked juggling more than one thing at a time, because while it might be hard in the moment, the feeling of accomplishment afterwards is even greater than the toughness during the trying time. I was also a collegiate track runner and feel that there is a certain mindset and level of determination you need to do any sport at that level.


I’ve known since a summer internship in the OR at the National Naval Medical Center that I wanted to be involved in the medical field. During my internship, I got to watch interesting surgeries, and learning about how the body works fascinated me. Back then though, I wasn’t sure what specific field I wanted to be in. It wasn’t until I worked at a large MD/OD practice in Bethesda, Maryland, that I knew my calling was optometry.

Ironically, I had never worn eyeglasses until I was already in optometry school. Nor had I associated optometrists with improving lives through eyewear. While working at the MD/OD practice, the two ODs there saw mostly contact lens patients. But they also saw abrasions, conjunctivitis, post-surgical patients and those with glaucoma, retina problems and other medical issues. I had never even seen an optical shop. I was oddly shocked that the main focus during my first year in optometry school was optical and eyeglasses.


I entered optometry with a desire to work in a community-based setting. This is due to the fact that I’ve seen poor treatment of patients of color, patients who don’t speak English, patients with disabilities or patients living below the poverty level. The more I network and the further I get in school, the more opportunities I see for working with these underserved populations.

I am the treasurer for a startup Community Health Center club at the New England College of Optometry (NECO). I am so excited to be a part of the founding WO Student Advisory Board. I hope it will allow me to not only cast a light on community-based eye care but to also learn about opportunities post-graduation.


For fun, I like to run, eat out, drink wine and travel. I have recently been running one half-marathon per year in a different city, with one of my friends who currently lives in Denver. I hope to continue that tradition the next two years around my boards and rotations.


View more student board members and newsmakers from WO here.

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