Brad Schwantke


For Saint John's University senior Brad Schwantke, life seemed a little blurry.

But it didn't seem like the kind of blurriness that could be cleared up with a basic eye exam.

Or could it?

"I was doing the pre-med thing, volunteering at hospitals, and I decided that I didn't want to be a general practitioner and an MD just didn't appeal to me. But I talked to my optometrist and I told him that, and he persuaded me to job shadow him," he said.

Schwantke, a chemistry major, shadowed his optometrist, SJU alum Aaron Boatz, '98, at Northway Eye Clinic in St. Cloud, Minn. and his vision for the future was cleared.

"The level of interaction that they get with the patients and just the level that they enjoyed their jobs was what made me go into optometry - they are good at what they do because they can relate to people," he said.

Now at the end of the semester, Schwantke is taking the necessary steps to make his vision a reality.

Within a week he interviewed at Pacific University in Oregon and the New England College of Optometry in Boston. Schwantke has also traveled to Los Angeles to interview at the Southern California College of Optometry. With all of that traveling he has made some sacrifices, but it is all an investment in his future.

"It hasn't been easy ... but it has all been worth it," Schwantke said.

Schwantke just found out that he has been accepted to the optometry program at Pacific University, his top choice.

"There are only 17 optometry schools in the US and Canada, and I liked this one because it was very similar to SJU - it is a small private school ... in a small town like this one," he said.

Even with the hometown feel of Collegeville and Forest Grove, Oregon, Schwantke is about to begin a journey that will take him across the country.

Schwantke and his lab group from an exchange program he participated in through CSB/SJU. He had the opportunity to spend six weeks in China doing research.

He said that after the first two years of classroom work in optometry school and a third year of some clinical immersion, his fourth year will include four rotations to different clinics all around the U.S.

"My plan right now is to, down the road, come back to Minnesota," said Schwantke. "I would like to own my clinic eventually."