Meet Laudan Hatami, our student advisory board member from Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry (NSUOCO). She’s busy both on and off campus; she currently serves as the NSUOCO Women In Optometry President and the school’s National Optometric Student Association president. She enjoys volunteering in various service projects, particularly working with the Native American population in her hometown of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation capital.
FROM PRIMATES TO PATIENTS
Hatami didn’t start her schooling with her eye on optometry. Her first field of study was primates at Duke University. Hatami became interested in evolutionary development after taking Evolutionary Anthropology 101, a popular class for curious pre-health students. After taking several evolutionary anthropology courses, she knew that the major was perfect for her; “it was a bridge between the current understanding of human beings and the path we traveled to modernity.” Cranial anatomy was particularly fascinating to her, so she sought out project topics that focused on the brain.
She completed a research project where she learned how to determine the sleep/wake schedules of ancient primates based on the size of their optic canal. It was during this research project, where hours were put in independently learning the physiology of photoreceptors, that Hatami learned “there is more to the eye than what meets it.”
While she currently enjoys the hustle and bustle of classes, she says she is “too curious of a person to not look into a residency or more specialized field.” Her current interest is posterior segment disease. Growing up in her family’s small business– Pizza by Manooch– has also sparked her entrepreneurial spirit.
FEEDING THE SOUL
“As someone who grew up in the food service industry, it feeds my soul to make people feel safe, important and cared for,” Hatami says, “even if it takes a little extra love.” Her enthusiasm for working with people reflects what she’s done at NSUOCO so far, including hosting a tea party for her WiO members and preparing to pass the baton to her “little” in May. She says the “best thing about being a second-year student has been helping the first-year students. I’ve learned so much and it will push me to be the best clinician I can be. Women in leadership is a beautiful thing to see.”
In the tough moments of graduate school, Hatami says directing herself to always focus on the future has been key. “Plan as much as you can, and let go of what you cannot control,” Hatami says. “Redefining myself and changing my ways of thinking have helped me get through.”
At home, Hatami enjoys spending time with her older sister, a newly graduated dentist who Hatami says is her “twin in mannerisms, speech and passion for health care.” The Hatami sisters do what they have coined “sister chores,” which are sisterly acts of kindness that help them catch up on quality time in adulthood. Hatami also has a green-cheeked conure parakeet named Kevin that she hand-trains and showers with love. She also enjoys making photo albums of friends and family, crafting and sharpening up her skills in her second language, Farsi.
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