Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Geneva Cleveland

ClevelandName: Geneva Cleveland, OD

Occupation: Optometrist

Education (UR and additional): University of Rochester, B.S. in Brain and Cognitive Science 2006; University of Missouri – St. Louis College of Optometry Doctor of Optometry 2010; SUNY College of Optometry Residency Program 2011

Current city/state/country of residence: Alexandria, VA


Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?

I was accepted to the university prior to having visited the campus.  I was impressed with the school resources, history, and reputation in the sciences. After I came to visit on a lovely spring day, I knew it was the place for me.

When and how did you choose your major(s)?

I started my academic career as a chemistry major, but became interested in the classes that a fellow student was taking in the BCS program.  Early in my sophomore years, I changed my major and became one of the first to graduate with a B.S. in Brain and Cognitive Science.  Before that time, only a B.A. was offered. 

What resources did you use on campus that you would recommend current students use?

Part of the reason I chose to attend the College of Arts and Sciences was because of the relationship the school has to The Eastman School of Music.  I was able to take voice lessons at Eastman for credit  and participate in the strong music culture present at the University of Rochester through various ensembles and performance opportunities.  I also found the library system to be excellent.  I spent many hours in the libraries all over the campus. 

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was a resident advisor, teaching assistant for computer science, active in the Greek system, and briefly in an acapella group.  I remember college as being a time when I kept a very active schedule and did not sleep much.  I do think time management and exposure to leadership roles were the most important things I developed during my time at the University of Rochester. 

What did you do immediately after graduation?  How did you decide to take this path?

I attended optometry school in St. Louis, MO following graduation.  As a Brain and Cognitive Science major, I had become interested in vision science, but did not feel that laboratory science was for me.  Optometry gave me the opportunity to interact with people on a daily basis and to have an impact on people’s lives. 

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I am an optometrist who specializes in vision rehabilitation.  I am the Director of Contact Lens Services for The George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates Department of Ophthalmology.  I provide therapeutic contact lens fitting for eyes with corneal diseases as well as providing routine contact lens services.  I am also a Low Vision Rehabilitation specialist.  I provide help to visually impaired and legally blind individuals.  After vision loss from eye disease and after the best medical intervention has been given, I use magnifiers, telescopes, and electronic devices to help people use the vision they do have to accomplish their visual goals.  I am on the faculty of The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Science and I lecture to and supervise our department’s twelve residents.

How you are still connected with the University?

I have gone to UR Young Alumni and Alumni events in the Washington, DC area.  I have also helped recruit the newest class of undergraduates as an alumni interviewer for my area.  I hope to come up for a Meliora Weekend once my son is a little older.