Ashley Hemmati, OD
Ambassador – Houston, TX
The featured Diva for this week is Dr. Ashley Hemmati. Read the full feature below to learn how Ashley paid off over $200,000 in student loans in only 3 years.
1. Tell us a little bit about you?
I was born and raised in northwest Houston, TX near Spring. I’m a first generation Iranian-American, and also the first doctor in my family.
I got my bachelors in Biology from The University of Texas at Austin. Hookem horns! After college, I went to Optometry School at UC Berkeley. Go bears!
After graduating, I decided to return to my hometown and practice Optometry there. Although I loved living in California, I was glad to finally be home.
Last year, I got engaged to my middle school/high school crush and we are getting married on October 3, 2020. I am beyond excited!
I love being outdoors, hiking and traveling. I also love the arts and crafts and always find myself starting new projects as soon as I finish one.
One other thing I love most about my life is being debt free!
2. What made you decide to become an Optometrist?
I got my first pair of glasses in the 3rd grade. That magical device drastically changed my life. After receiving those glasses, I did significantly better in all my classes. Within 1 year of getting my eyeglasses, I graduated from my ESL (English as a Second Language) classes and moved up to the Honors program. Amazing, right?
Since my first eye exam, I’ve always had a good experience with my Optometrist. I felt a connection with the doctor every year I went. I was intrigued by how something so simple as glasses can make such dramatic differences. I wanted to do that for people one day.
During my junior year in High School, I was in a program called HOSA, which stands for Health Occupations Students of America. It is a program where you learn about different health professions and even shadow health care professionals.
I joined HOSA because I knew I wanted to have a career in health care. I’ve always loved science and wanted to be able to help people by making an impact on their lives. Health Care seemed like the right path for me.
One day my HOSA teacher, Ms. Kristen Haggard, told us our next project was to research a future career path, and I chose Optometry. Through my research project, I learned so much more about the profession and grew passionate. I even asked her if there was any way I could shadow an Optometrist.
At that time, there weren’t any Optometry offices in our list of rotations. But that didn’t stop Ms. Haggard. At my request, she reached out to doctors in the community and helped organize a time for me to shadow a local Optometrist.
After one day of shadowing, I instantly fell in love and became super excited about my future. I had found my calling. I even went to class the next day and expressed my excitement to Ms. Haggard. She was thrilled that I found my passion.
When I went to college, one of the first things I did was join the Pre-Optometry club. From then on, I never considered any other career. I believe being optometrist was my destiny.
3. What Optometry school did you go to?
4. Where do you currently practice?
At present I am a floating doctor in Retail and Private practices in Houston, TX.
5. Do you offer any specialty services in your practice?
Primary Care Optometry
6. Name 1 to 3 hurdles you personally faced in your career and how did you overcome them?
I believe to achieve any goal, there has to be some struggle. Otherwise how will we know if it was all worth it? One of the biggest struggles I faced after going to school for eight years was the burden of student loans. Student debt is a growing crisis facing many young Americans today. When I graduated from Optometry school in 2016, I had over $200k in student loan debt. Yikes! I was very concerned about this massive debt and wanted to do everything in my power to get rid of it. I drafted a plan and went to work. I worked almost everyday during that time and saved all my money to make large frequent payments on the loan. I can proudly say that in just 3 years after graduation, I managed to pay it ALL off! It felt soooo good!!! I am an example that paying it off is possible if you plan it outright and take action! So yes, the struggles I faced to reach my goal of being debt free was worth it! Now I can enjoy practicing my profession without the stress of student loans.
7. If you could go back to when you were a student, what advice would you give yourself?
To not stress or worry too much. To not be too hard on myself, and be proud of how far I’ve come.
To contact Ashley and get some tips on how you can pay off your student loans, click on email her at [email protected]