Nilah Nicole Bonham
Primary Care Optometrist

Chemistry B.S., 2001
Doctor of Optometry, Indiana University, 2005

Choosing to pursue a chemistry degree at ISU enabled me to ultimately find a career that I love - being an Optometrist. Because the ISU Chemistry Department did not over populate their student body, I was able to receive one-on-one instruction in all of my core classes and was given the opportunity to participate in research and fulfill leadership roles. As vice-president and president of the ACS-SA, I familiarized myself with public speaking, fundraising, and educational activities (for example, participating as a student judge at The Chauncey Rose Middle School Science Fair). As an assistant instructor for chemistry labs, I was able to review and prepare for my graduate entrance exams by helping my fellow students. As a student instructor (SI) I choose to work only with chemistry students, so that I would maintain all of my science foundation, which later helped me with my graduate school courses.

Although there have been several chemistry courses that helped me along my journey, I am especially grateful for my instruction in biochemistry and organic chemistry. The knowledge afforded to me shaped my understanding of the human body and its pharmacological interactions. Without these fundamentals, I would have been a step behind all of the other graduate students at the IU Optometry School. In particular, my biochemistry class at ISU was so advanced that I flew through IU's biochemical science coursework. Not to underestimate my minor in life sciences, it is the chemistry that I rely on everyday when deciding upon medical treatment for my patients.

With the many research professors and topics available in the chemistry department, I was given the opportunity to participate in research and win honors for my work with Drs. Sandra and John Allen. The experience ultimately gave me a competitive edge when I applied to IU. By choosing a research project that was not only in my current field, but future field as well, I gained insight that allowed me to have an upper hand when speaking with fellow colleagues. The research that I began at ISU shaped the way I prescribe glaucoma medications today.

In 2005, I graduated from IU Optometry School with a Doctorate in Optometry (O.D.). As an Optometrist licensed in Indiana, I could have pursued a research career, taught at the university level, pursued an MS or PhD, or worked in a commercial setting (such as LensCrafter's, Walmart, etc.), a surgical referral center, as a private-care physician, or for the Veteran's Administration in a hospital setting. While finishing up my year-long medical rotations, I decided to accept an associate position with Dr. Darla Heck Sacopulos in Brazil, IN. As an Optometrist in a private-care setting, I manage ocular emergencies, disease, pediatrics, specialty contact lens fits, and primary care (glasses). It was my chemistry undergraduate work at ISU that paved the way for the career that I love, and that has allowed me to have a family as well.