Explore UAB

Leslie Cecil, OD, graduated from the UAB School of Optometry (UABSO) in 2010. She currently practices at Cecil Family Eyecare in Bardstown, KY, where she lives with her husband, Kevin, and two sons, Conner and Brady. She is the current president-elect for the Kentucky Optometric Association (KOA) and is the chair for the KOA Paraoptometric Education Committee. In addition, Cecil serves on the Nelson County Board of Health and on the board for the Nelson County Community Clinic. She was also awarded the 2017 Kentucky Young Optometrist of the Year award from the KOA.


Q: Where did you grow up? 

A: I grew up in Somerset, KY, which is well known for Lake Cumberland and small country roads.   

Q: What made you choose optometry as a profession? And why UABSO? 

A: After graduating from high school, I spent around 10 years working as an optician. I became American Board of Opticianry (ABO) and National Contact Lens Examiners (NCLE) certified, as well as a licensed dispensing optician in KY. I enjoyed my job but I always felt that I should do more. Optometry seemed to be the logical next step. I applied to several schools once I completed my prerequisites. However, once I visited UABSO, I knew that it was the School for me. UABSO had an excellent reputation and Birmingham was simply beautiful.

Q: Who is/are your favorite mentors while a student at UABSO? 

A: This is a difficult question, because there were many wonderful teachers who stand out in my mind. I was fortunate to have clinic rotations with Mark Swanson, OD, MSPH, FAAO, professor, Leo Semes, OD, FAAO, professor emeritus, and Tammy Than, OD, MS, FAAO, professor emeritus, in the Ocular Disease Clinic, who are all brilliant in their own right.  My Pediatric Clinic rotations were no different, Kristine Hopkins , OD, MSPH, FAAO, professor, and Katherine Weise, OD, MBA, FAAO, professor, were both amazing teachers and practice with such enthusiasm.

Q: Was there a moment that sticks out that made you realize UABSO was the right choice?  

A: I just remember my first visit to UABSO. It was for my interview and I just had this sense of home. I knew instantly that's where I belonged.  

Q: What is one important life lesson that your experience taught you at UABSO to help your career?  

A: I learned that while things don't always come easy, they are usually worth it. It just takes a little perseverance, which was a great lesson to learn. When I opened my office as a cold start, there were definitely some tough times in the beginning. We have now been open for over nine years and it has been wonderful. I love having my own practice, because I love practicing optometry the way that I want to practice optometry. 

Q: What life advice do you recommend for current student/residents?  

A: Optometry is a legislated profession, and one of the most important things that you can do as a young optometrist is to get involved in your state and national associations. You have worked hard to get where you are, and it is so important to protect our profession and to keep it moving forward. The ability to practice medical optometry is so important for the care of our patients and our communities. We must remember that we could lose that ability at any moment if we aren't careful. Through advocacy and working together, we can ensure a better future for optometry.