National Alumni Society Member
Name: George N. Eischens
Degree and Graduation Year: OD, 2001, Optometry, UABSO
Hometown: I grew up on a little island in the Pacific Ocean called Adak, Alaska. That is the closest place I have to a home town. Otherwise, my home town is now Prattville, AL. I have lived here for the last 21 years.
Current town: Prattville, AL
Current employer and job: I’m the owner of Fountain City Eyecare, a primary care optometry clinic where I am also the optometrist. I started the practice in 2002, a year after I graduated from UABSO. I am also a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. I retired in 1997 after 23 years of service, about one week after I began my optometry education at UABSO.
What is your favorite UAB memory? Studying in the library on the upper floors. I would go there for an hour or two in the evening to study while waiting for the traffic to subside. The sun streamed in, the chairs were comfortable, and it was a nice quiet time to reflect on things.
How has UAB impacted your life? Attending the UAB School of Optometry opened up a wonderful second career to me. Fifteen years after graduation, I’m still enthusiastic about the opportunities to make a positive impact on my patients and in my community. The faculty provided superb mentors for my profession and instilled a deep responsibility to use my professional skills to improve the medical condition of those in my community. As a result, I’m more tuned to those needs and more proactive in seeking solutions.
What made you choose your current profession? Multiple factors led me to optometry. I started my college years considering dental and veterinary medicine, but never entered those fields. As I was wrapping up my career in the Air Force, I decided I would like to pursue something more rewarding than management of computer systems and software development. I wanted to get back to being on the front lines of resolving problems and helping people. As a result, I kept going back to the medical fields for a second career. The optometry field was the best match because I could practice independently and I would work directly with patients to manage their medical conditions. In addition, it offered a variety of ways I could continue to practice into my 70’s if I desired.
What would you do if you were given more time in each day? I would spend more time with my family. It seems that my professional life and community commitments gobble up the time I have to spend with my parents, siblings, children, and grandchildren.
What invention have you seen in your lifetime that you believe has been the most important? The internet. It has enabled almost instant connectivity and collaboration between individuals and groups. In the simplest example it helps scattered families, such as our military service families, maintain their family bonds and support for each other. On a larger scale, it allows research groups to coordinate their study to achieve faster results. It has truly transformed the way people interact.
If you could go back to any age, which age would it be and why? I would go back to the late 1800s. It was an age of rapid growth and scientific breakthroughs, but there was still a sense of mystery to our world.
If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why? I would change the focus of individuals from a “me” orientation to a “community” or “we” orientation. I realize we are fighting against years of evolution and survival instincts, but we can achieve much greater things as a society if we work together.
What natural gift would you most like to possess? I would like to be more empathetic. If I could better understand the motivations and concerns of those around me, I would make better decisions about my own actions.
What trait(s) do you most value in your friends? Loyalty – someone to stick with me through thick and thin. Honesty – the ability to tell me what I need to hear and not what I want to hear.
Who would you want to portray you in a film about your life and why? Probably Matt Damon. I like his roles and he is not too extravagant.
What is your motto? “Move forward with purpose”
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? “Concentrate on doing the job in front of you to the best of your ability and the rest will take care of itself.” A general officer I worked for said this when discussing military career planning.
If you could start a charity or non-profit organization, what would it be and why? Our children need more opportunities to grow up in a safe nurturing environment. My charity would support and expand the capabilities of organizations such as the Boy and Girl Scouts, YMCA, Big Brothers and Sisters. With many single parent and two working parent households in our country, our children need more positive learning experiences. The parents also need support in providing those experiences.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? I’d like to visit Mongolia. It is about as far away from the modern world as I can get and is a very unusual geographic region.
What is something you are proud of and why? I am proud of the role I played coordinating the evacuation and transportation of approximately 21,000 American military personnel and their family members from the Philippines during the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991. My team provided the communication links between the on-site Joint Task Force and the support resources elsewhere. We arranged for Navy ships to evacuate the family members, which included my own family; and then later to evacuate the military personnel. I left the Philippines on the USS Midway one week after the primary eruption.
What is the last book you read? Start with Why by Simon Sinek. A very enlightening discussion about how to clarify why we are in business and how to focus on the key reasons the business exists.
Student Alumni Society Member
Name: Lindsey Gaskill
Graduation Year: 2017
Major: Doctor of Optometry
Hometown: Chapel Hill, TN
Why did you choose to attend UAB? I wanted to stay in the Southern region, and I knew that UAB School of Optometry had a great reputation among the professional community.
Who is the best professor that you have had at UAB so far and why? Dr. Tammy Than has been such a positive inspiration to me. She is so involved with her students and truly wants each and every one of them to be great. She puts in so much extra time and effort to make sure that each student has the opportunity to succeed. She has a powerful presence not only in the classroom, but also with involvement in the AAO. She is strong, disciplined, determined; she is my professional role model.
What is your favorite UAB memory? I don’t think I can choose one. The past 3 years have been the hardest years academically, but I am proud to say that I have had an amazing group of people to share the entire experience with. My classmates and I have grown so close over the past few years and I can’t imagine getting through this journey without the UABSO Class of 2017.
How has UAB impacted your life? It has totally changed it! When I first started, I was just 21 years old. Within the past 3 years I have seen myself transform into a totally different person. I have learned a great deal of self-discipline and have come to realize that we are capable of much more than we sometimes give ourselves credit for. Without the hard work and dedication that optometry school has demanded, I don’t think that I would have the same confidence to reach my goals.
What is your current state of mind? Excited! I’m one year away from graduation and looking forward to all of the opportunities ahead of me!
What do you do for fun? Read; isn’t it sad that a student likes to read in her spare time? But after spending hours looking at textbooks and PowerPoints, it’s really nice to get lost in another world for a little while. I also like to spend time outdoors, whether it’s hanging out by the pool, going for a hike, picnicking, or just going for a walk, it’s nice to feel the sun and get some fresh air.
Who are your heroes in real life? My hero is my fiancé, Ja. He came into my life not long before starting optometry school and the timing couldn’t have been more awkward or more perfect. He has been my motivation and my backbone. Within the past few years, Ja has saved me from myself by bringing laughter and peace into my life when all I could find was stress, anxiety, and worry; this is why he is my hero.
If you were given more time in each day, what would you do? Spend time laughing. I tend to get caught up in the stresses of everyday life. If I had more time, I would take it doing things that make me smile.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? I would choose flight.
What is the best invention of your lifetime and why? Google Maps … without it I’d probably be lost right now.
What are your future goals? My future goals include moving back to Tennessee, marrying my fiancé, working as an optometrist, starting a family, and eventually owning my own practice.
What would be your ultimate dream job? A musician; I was never good enough at French horn though!
If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fiction, with whom would it be? I would trade places with someone much less fortunate than myself. I would hope this would give me a better perspective on all the things I have to be grateful for and how lucky I am. Then, I could be more satisfied with the rest of my life, rather than happy for just 1 week.
What three items would you take to a deserted island other than food and water? I would take a hammock, flint, and the biggest book of stories I could find.
If you had the power to solve one, and only one, problem in the world…what would it be and why? World peace…I know that sounds like such a beauty pageant answer, but it’s truly what I would want. There are so many issues in the world that could be avoided if people were more tolerant and understanding of one another.
What’s the best advice you ever received? When I was told by an instructor that I was capable of more than I believed, that I had set my goals too low. This was a huge turning point in my life, and this conversation caused me to make major changes in my future plans and goals and is the reason I am now at UABSO.