Most second graders can’t spell the word optometrist, but at that age, Denise Diaz Aguayo, OD '22, ‘23Resident, could not only spell it, she knew she wanted to be one when she grew up. “My dad still has one of my first day of school posters from second grade, and for the question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up,’ I put an optometrist,” said Dr. Diaz Aguayo, and she has stayed true to those dreams since that moment.
Dr. Denise Diaz AguayoHer exposure to optometry started as an infant. Dr. Diaz Aguayo was born with strabismus, underwent strabismus surgery and did eye patching as a child. As a result, she visited her optometrist regularly. For many, the eye doctor is an intimidating place, but Dr. Diaz Aguayo has some fond memories of her experiences over the years. “The eye doctor was one of the doctor visits that wasn’t scary, my optometrist was always comforting and would talk me through everything,” she said. “I was fascinated by all of the tools and had fun while I was there.”
Her childhood dream became a reality as Dr. Diaz Aguayo attended the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University to receive her Doctor of Optometry degree, and because of her great experience, she decided to stay for her residency.
“The reason I chose PCO/Salus was because of the strong clinical program, and although COVID changed that experience, I still had great clinical exposure,” said Dr. Diaz Aguayo. “I love our clinic (The Eye Institute) because of our support system and diverse patient population, which is why I decided to pursue a residency at PCO/Salus.”
A few months into her residency, Dr. Diaz Aguayo has enjoyed the experience so far and is looking forward to the rest of the year. Specifically, she was excited to attend the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) Meeting in San Diego that just happened where she presented a poster alongside some of her fellow residents.
After completing her residency, Dr. Diaz Aguayo is looking forward to traveling. “Going straight from undergrad to optometry school didn’t give me too much time, so I’m looking forward to some international travel after this year,” she said.
As she continues her residency, she wants to thank her parents and three younger siblings for their support and love throughout her journey.