Lifting Black Voices

Updated: Mar 16

Randi-Jo Francis, OD '21


As Randi (very soon to be Dr. Francis!) says, becoming an OD "is something completely attainable" ... you'll "have the resources and the support needed" and of course, "we'll have mentors for (you) as well."

Lydie Tubene, OD '23


Lydie's parents immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their determination and their drive are a big reason why she is at ICO today.


To future Black ODs Lydie says "never doubt yourself. Know that you belong in this space ... your patients they see you and they appreciate you."


Melisa Philogene, OD ’24


Melisa Philogene, OD ’24 not only celebrates the rich culture of Bronzeville, but her own rich Haitian culture and her family’s struggle to acclimate to life in America. She says, “Though the society may not believe in you, don’t forget about the rich culture that you have… Don’t forget you are here for a reason and you’re gonna be a great doctor.”

Alexis Abernathy, OD '23


Alexis Abernathy, OD '23 serves as both a mentor and a liaison not only as an academic coach but also as the president of ICO's BSU. She says, "Black students can do anything they put their mind to. They can excel in any route. They don't just have to do what they see others doing."

Looking for more resources? If you are a student interested in optometry, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Admissions is always there to support you. You can reach out to them at admissions@ico.edu.


Every year, we put together a program called Focus on Your Future which brings minority students together to learn about optometry and ICO. If you’re interested, you can start by reading our feature in our alumni magazine and by visiting our admissions page. If you have specific questions, reach out to Teisha Johnson at tjohnson@ico.edu.


Last year, we launched several initiatives to help support students and the Focus on Your Future program. In the fall, we launched a DEI campaign in partnership with Dr. Nana Owusu and Janette Perez, and in December, ICO employees raised $25,000 to endow the Underrepresented Minority Scholarship. Both campaigns are ongoing if you wish to contribute.


To future black ODs, we want you to know there is a place for you here at ICO and we can’t wait to welcome you on campus.

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