After earning a degree in chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, Chicago native Alethia Love Harris, OD ‘21, ‘22Resident, scheduled interviews with optometry schools in all regions of the country.
It just so happened that the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University was first on the list. Dr. Love enjoyed the interview and was so impressed with what she saw and experienced that she canceled all of the other interviews and decided on PCO/Salus from the get-go.Dr. Alethia Love Harris
That’s why, when the opportunity presented itself after she graduated in 2021, it was an easy decision to stay at PCO/Salus as part of the Residency Class of 2022 where she is specializing in Pediatrics/Vision Therapy.
Dr. Love started eyeing a career in optometry while in high school.
“I enjoyed the health professions, but I wanted to do a specialty that was relatable to me. At that time, the two healthcare fields I liked were optometry and dentistry. The numerous enjoyable experiences I had with optometrists growing up caused me to gravitate toward optometry,” she said. “Then through college I did a lot of shadowing, a lot of research and realized, optometry is amazing. I can totally do this.”
While at PCO/Salus for her graduate degree, Dr. Love was assigned to work study in the Admissions office all four years, eventually becoming an admissions student coordinator before completing her rotations. She was also a mentor in the Peer Mentor Program and served as a Clinical Skills teaching assistant.
Being a resident at PCO/Salus, she said, has enabled her to continue to further expand her educational knowledge.
“Working with students is really amazing because you’re doubly prepared. You have your knowledge base but you’re also mentally prepared for any questions that students have and that really helps you to know how to communicate and really prepares you for patient education,” said Dr. Love. “You want to be able to explain it to the students in a way that is easy for them to understand.”
Although she is unsure at this point what direction she wants her career to go after completing her residency, Dr. Love is keeping her options open between going into academia, practicing in a more private practice setting or even a clinical community-based setting.
“But I do know I want to keep doing something with a binocular vision emphasis. I don’t want to transition into doing only primary care,” she said. “I love pediatrics. I love treating binocular vision conditions and the impact that it has on people’s lives.”
Growing up in the Midwest, attending college in the South and now getting her graduate degree and doing her residency on the East Coast, Dr. Love said she has really enjoyed getting to experience Philadelphia.
“The Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, area was perfect when I was in school. I loved that it is near the city,” she said. “It was a great place to study. However, when I wanted the big city life that I’m used to having, I could go into Philly.”
During her leisure time, Dr. Love takes dance classes from different instructors at different places in the area. She said she has been doing this since she was a student and it helps her relieve stress.