Tafadzwa “Taffy” Makoni-Savanhu, OD ‘11, followed her dreams from Zimbabwe to Illinois. She was just 19, but knew she wanted to be a doctor. Shadowing an ICO alumnus brought her to optometry. Dr. Makoni decided that she, too, would be made at ICO.
While in school, Dr. Makoni balanced marriage and studies with a long commute. “I had to work hard,” she says, but she was not alone. She recalls not only studying with, but also confiding in her classmates. “We were all going through the same thing… We’ve created these bonds that I feel like are for life.”
Today, Dr. Makoni has a sublease with Target Optical. “I’m pretty much my own boss,” she says. While many would find this level of autonomy intimidating, Dr. Makoni is confident. The clinical foundation she built at the Illinois Eye Institute helps her succeed with no stress.
A flexible schedule allows Dr. Makoni to enjoy life outside of her office. Each day, she cooks a family breakfast, sees her son off to school, and enjoys activities like bike riding, baking, and board games. “It’s past my expectations,” she smiles.
In gratitude, Dr. Makoni does her best to give back. She mentors ICO students and participates in campus activities like the Practice Opportunities Symposium. ICO recently put her in touch with a prospective student from her home country of Zimbabwe. Thanks to Dr. Makoni, the next generation can bring their dreams from overseas to ICO.