Our Students

A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life follows two Illinois College of Optometry students on the journey to OD. Chelsea Laden and Jeff Villena offer real, honest perspectives on optometry school and the city of Chicago. 

Follow along as they move in to ICO, make friends, study, explore, care for patients, and grow toward the ultimate goal: becoming doctors.

Who is Chelsea Laden?

"My family is from Lakeville, Minnesota. I’m the second oldest of 5 kids. My all-time favorite hobby is fishing, but my Minnesota roots drove me to play the most 'Minnesotan' sport there is: ice hockey. 

I attended Lakeville South High School, then accepted a full ride scholarship to play Division I ice hockey at Quinnipiac University. There, I lead my team to the NCAA national tournament, had the 2nd most shut outs NCAA women's hockey history, and received two student athlete awards. Next, I spent a few years working for an optometrist and also playing in the inaugural season for the National Women's Hockey League. 

Now at ICO, I hope to go on a mission trip. I aspire to own my own practice and grow my charity-based ophthalmic frame line, Twenty4K, LLC."


Meet Jeff Villena

"I was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I attended Piper High School, and went on to complete my undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences at Florida International University. I am into spoken word poetry, reading, writing, hip hop culture, and all things related to South Florida sports. 

I love to cook and barbeque. Practically anything food-related makes me ecstatic. To combat this excess food intake, I picked up running a few years back and ran 3 half marathons. 

Professionally, my future plans include specializing in pediatrics and vision therapy. Helping the world heal through optometry and, of course, food is what keeps me striving."