Ashely George graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in May 2023 with a degree in biology, but her academic journey is far from over—thanks to her plans to attend optometry school.
George’s path is a testament to the power of tenacity and commitment to making a meaningful impact in society.
Raised in Chattanooga most of her life, George chose UTC because of the biology program’s academic rigor and the ability to stay close to home.
“I was able to save a lot of money,” George said.
During her time at UTC, she was active with the University’s Pre-Health Professions Advising program, leveraging its resources to support her pursuit of optometry school.
Under the guidance of Dr. Ethan Carver, George’s passion for optometry flourished. Carver, a biology professor and associate dean of the Graduate School, provided mentorship that significantly influenced her career aspirations, said George, who also was a UTC Honors College student.
George took advantage of every academic opportunity possible while an undergraduate.
She was involved in innovative research at Erlanger Hospital, studying newborns affected by Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. The publication of her findings underscored her dedication to scientific exploration and its applicability in health care and served as a feather in her cap.
A significant turning point in George’s career trajectory came when she shadowed a local Chattanooga optometrist who provides care for economically disadvantaged patients when not working in his primary practice. She said by witnessing firsthand the transformative power of eye care, she found her calling in optometry.
With a clear career path in sight, her ultimate goal is to establish a free eye clinic in the future, maybe even Chattanooga.
A combination of George’s research interests and her commitment to community service distinguishes her as an exemplary representative of UTC’s biology students.
Now a doctorate of optometry student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, George offered the following four tips to success at UTC:
- Seek mentorship: Find guidance from experienced professionals and professors. Their advice can significantly influence your career trajectory.
- Pursue research opportunities: Involvement in research not only broadens your academic knowledge but also opens the door for future career and academic opportunities.
- Engage with the community: Volunteer at local hospitals, health care facilities, free clinics or other health care organizations. That can enhance your understanding and passion in your field of interest.
- Use campus resources: Programs like the UTC Pre-Health Professions Advising program provide valuable support to help manage academic and career aspirations.
As George embarked on her journey to optometry school, her goal of opening a free eye clinic remains constant. Driven by her experiences at UTC and her ambition to make quality eye care accessible to all, George represents the qualities of empathy, resilience and service that UTC strives to cultivate in its students.