Tuesday, December 06, 2022

SUCCESS STORY

Brandon Bobb

Optometrist

BSc. (Hons) Optometry

“Anything is possible when you believe.”

Throughout my life these words have been my foundation and have served as my motivation through my journey to becoming an Optometrist. I am Brandon Bobb, and I am currently employed as the resident Optometrist at Courts Optical in Lowlands where I have been given the opportunity to serve and care for the people of Tobago.

It was never my dream to become an Optometrist. Throughout primary school and most of high school, my goal was to become an airline pilot. However, after realizing my crippling fear of heights, that goal quickly shifted. I decided to pursue the sciences in hopes of becoming a health care practitioner. After completing high school, my choices were to either become a Medical Doctor or an Optometrist.

My indecisiveness and surface level understanding of both fields led to my decision to take a year off to do some research. I learnt that in Tobago, in comparison to other medical professions, there were not many eye care practitioners. There was also a great need for improved eyecare on the island due to the high number of individuals with visual impairment. I therefore made my decision, and in September 2013 I was successfully accepted into the Bachelor of Science Optometry Programme under the Faculty of Medical Sciences at UWI, St. Augustine.

Although the tuition for this degree programme was GATE funded, I had many other financial concerns such as rent, food, transportation and equipment. I did not have sufficient savings to be able to cover these expenses and my parents were not wealthy. My father was the sole breadwinner for the family, and my mom could not work due to medical reasons. Despite our situation, my parents decided that they would give me their full support.

My dad decided to take on multiple part time jobs and access loans to be able to cover the additional expenses. We soon realized that it would not be enough. Thankfully, I was able to find out about the Tobago House of Assembly’s (THA) financial assistance programme administered by the Department of Advanced Training and Advisory Services (DATAS)

Through this initiative, I was able to access the funding required to assist with my living expenses and purchasing of equipment. This was indeed a very timely blessing as it helped to ease my family’s financial strain.

University life proved to be a very eye-opening experience. For my entire life up to that point, I had been sheltered under the care of my family. This was my first time living on my own, but I had to quickly adjust in order to focus on my studies. I had to learn how to properly manage my finances, spending only for the essentials. I also had to get accustomed to travelling, especially during my internship in which I had to go to various private practices and hospitals in order to work and train.

The transition from high school to university was akin to the difference between night and day. I thought that studying for CSEC and CAPE was tough, but this was on another level. The workload was heavy and my schedule was intense. Sometimes it felt like there was barely any time for rest. In my first and second years of university, I did my very best to keep up and tried to be as disciplined as possible. I cut back on recreational activities and I studied and practised as much as I could. There were also many all-nighters involved. However, at the end of my second year of university, I felt overwhelmed and my anxiety eventually took its toll. It was no question that my grades were affected. I became depressed and began to evaluate whether the decision to pursue this career was the right one.

I was at my limit, but I was reminded by my parents that with God, there is no obstacle that we can’t overcome. I realized that I had become so focused on my studies, that I didn’t make enough time for God. From then on, I put my full trust in God and prayed for his guidance. Gradually, everything began to fall into place.

Group study sessions and group practice sessions were also very beneficial. I learnt that when a group of persons who share the same goals work together, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. It’s also a good idea to ask for help whenever you are experiencing difficulty. In weak subject areas, I would ask my lecturers or senior colleagues to help explain and review the topics until I was able to comfortably understand. 

Finding balance between work and rest was also quite essential. Hard work is important to achieve one’s goals, but overworking can leave you feeling burnt out. Therefore, I continued to be disciplined in my studies, but I also made time to rest as well.

After four years of perseverance, I was able to successfully graduate in 2017 and achieve my goal of becoming an Optometrist. It was definitely a long journey filled with ups and downs but I would have never made it without the guidance and blessings of Almighty God. I am also eternally grateful to my parents, Lincoln Bobb and Jassmin Bobb for their unending support, love and encouragement that they have given me throughout my life. I am also thankful for the support given to me by my relatives, friends, and well-wishers for without their prayers and kind words I would not have made it this far. To my lecturers and senior colleagues, I thank you for the motivation and direction that you have given me throughout my academic journey.

My advice to persons interested in a career in Optometry is to be disciplined in your studies but remember to always find time for prayer. It is also important that you love what you do. Before pursuing any career, I believe that it is important to do enough research. Speak to persons involved, and make sure that you are passionate about the field. Always surround yourself with individuals who lift you higher and motivate you to do better. Never give up, and you will achieve your dreams.