Alumni Spotlight: Asha Hurreh


A photo of Asha Hurren, smiling and wearing white hijab and black shirt

Asha Hurreh (she/her)

Major: Psychology BA & Political Science BA (Spring 2022)
Position: Lead Ophthalmic Technician
Employer: Eye Care Associates, PA

What is your work like? What are your duties?

Complete comprehensive evaluations of patients prior to seeing our medical doctors, including refracting, tonometry, diagnostic testing, completing health histories, and so much more. 

Developed a comprehensive training manual for ophthalmic technicians with an emphasis on proper techniques and strong ophthalmic knowledge

Oversaw clinical management of all equipment and medical supplies to guarantee the clinic's uninterrupted care of its patients

Assist in clinic as needed to ensure patient needs are being addressed in a timely manner and all anticipated clinical needs are fulfilled

How would you say your psychology degree has helped you with your current job?

Throughout my psychology degree, I was overwhelmingly interested in the cognitive side of things. I took a sensation and perception class that first introduced me to visual pathways and initially, I learned about it in class and never gave it a second thought. As the semester neared its ending, I reached out to the professor of the course, Stephen Engel, and asked to be in his lab. The professor agreed and I did a semester with him focusing on vision and neuroimaging.

As I was a part of the lab, I learned about an entirely new world and discovered a new career. I learned about the field of eye care for the very first time and began extensively researching what a career in vision would look like (pun intended). I learned about Optometry and how I could combine my interest in being a healthcare provider with my interest in vision-related research. Shortly after that lab, I began looking for a job in the field and was hired at one of the leading clinics in vision-related research, Chu Vision Institute. The job perfectly blended two of my interests and introduced me to one of the most impactful mentors I had the privilege of learning from Dr. Hosam Hassan, an optometrist and fellow UMN alumni. After I graduated from the U, I went back to school, doing a post-baccalaureate program to complete STEM prerequisites for optometry school because I finally found a career that I was entirely happy with.

At this point in my life, it has been a year since I graduated, I have thousands of clinical hours under my belt, I have worked on nine different FDA clinical trials, became a peer-reviewed published author, and completed almost all of my prerequisites for optometry school. The road was really challenging, but I completed my applications for optometry school this summer and even interviewed with a few different schools. I am waiting on final admissions (so if reading this please pray for me) but taking that one sensation and perception class has changed the entire trajectory of my life. I hope to ultimately become an optometrist and I cannot wait to see what the future holds.

In what way has your major complemented your current job?

Approaching vision from a psychological and neurological angle gave me a unique perspective that many pre-optometry students did not have. Rather than focusing on the anatomical side, I heavily focused on how our brain processes what it is looking at and what those neural pathways look like. This gave me an in-depth understanding of our brains, our eyes, the way we see, and the world around us. I intend to carry that understanding with me into graduate school to potentially approach visual research from a unique and understudied angle and find safer treatment options for patients. 

How did you find your current position? 

Opened LinkedIn, set up a profile, and filled out every application I could find for hiring clinics. 

What advice do you have for our current psych students and recent grads?

The therapeutic and counseling side of psychology is amazing but if you don't think that is the perfect fit for you, know that your options are limitless. Throughout your undergraduate studies, you will tap so many different subsets of psychology and any one of them can inspire you into a whole new career. Keep an open mind and take up every opportunity that comes across you to learn, whether it is in the classroom, a lab, or a completely separate experience. When you do find something that inspires you or peaks your interest, talk to the professors around you or someone who may have more information. You will find works for you, it is just a matter of time. 

If you are interested in being featured or would like to nominate someone to be featured, please fill out this Google Form. We are always looking to highlight our alumni and their accomplishments!

Share on: