Our Students

Crossing Lines

We draw students from all across the U.S. and Canada. Students from Southern California to Alberta to right here in Chicago share with us what it is about ICO that has them “Crossing Lines.”

California to ICO, Part I

Los Angeles, Calif. native Robert Baltierra was graduating from California State University, Fullerton, and pretty much set on staying in-state for optometry school. He came to Chicago for the storied ICO interview day and hasn’t looked back. 


Now a member of ICO’s class of 2017, Robert knows it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to live in a magnificent city and do something awesome.

California to ICO, Part II

Growing up in Torrance, Calif., Steven Quan knew lots of doctors who attended optometry programs in his home state. He planned to stay in California for school, but was immediately inspired by the sense of community he felt while interviewing at ICO. 

This member of ICO’s class of 2016 enjoys living in a new environment, and the bond he’s established with his colleagues has been everything he hoped for and more.

Canada to ICO

French Canadian and ICO class of 2017 student Julie Lafreniere is right at home in Chicago and says that life at ICO is amazing! She loves how close the Residential Complex is to classrooms and clinic and says it’s a great way to meet people. 

Julie always thought she would go back to Canada; now, she is open to other possibilities.

Chicago to ICO

ICO class of 2015 student Chris Bugajski is a Chicago kid, born and raised. He says choosing ICO was the smartest decision he’s ever made. Chris has been entrenched in the city his whole life, and even shadowed an ICO alum on the Magnificent Mile. 

He says ICO means something and doesn’t think the opportunities here can be replicated anywhere else.

Florida to ICO

When Floridian Zachary Walburg was applying to optometry schools, he was looking to be in a big city. He had some great interview day experiences, but he knew he’d found his new home once he got to Chicago. 

Between the friendly, knowledgeable faculty and extensive alumni base, Zachary was confident he could make incomparable connections at ICO. He hated dorm life as an undergrad at the University of Florida, but this member of the class of 2018 loves living in ICO’s Residential Complex!

New York to ICO

Long Island native Nagwa Ibrahim chose to attend a school close to home for the in-state tuition and to be near family. She soon realized ICO’s cumulative testing system and friendly environment were a better fit for her, and she made the decision to transfer after a year.


Now a member of ICO’s class of 2017, Nagwa advises prospective students to follow the gut feeling they get during interview day.

Texas to ICO

University of Texas at Austin graduate and ICO class of 2017 student Jonathan Pham didn’t know there was an optometry school in Chicago until he took the OAT! He clicked the ICO box because he loves our city. 


After interviewing, Jonathan decided it was time to get away and experience something completely new. He says there’s a significant difference in the approach to learning at ICO. The Houston native loves the big city lifestyle and the fact that there are sports everywhere, all the time.