Alexa Fox discovered her passion for optometry while shadowing professionals in the field as an honors student at St. Thomas Aquinas College.
“I was pretty certain I wanted to pursue a career as an eye care physician and that decision was solidified after shadowing professionals in the field at the encouragement of my mentor, Dr. Clara Toth,” Alexa says. Toth suggested that the biology major tally 100 hours of shadowing before applying for a doctoral program and that’s exactly what Fox did, every Monday throughout her junior and senior years.
Alexa graduated from North Rockland High School 12th in her class which earned her a full academic scholarship to attend STAC. The generous gift, she says, made it possible to continue her education at the New England College of Optometry in Boston where she earned her doctorate. Today, she is the sole optometrist at LasikPlus, a high-volume refractive surgery center that offers vision correction procedures in Paramus, NJ.
“The most rewarding thing about the career I’ve chosen is getting to regularly work with people and help them maintain quality vision as well as ocular health,” Alexa says. “It has been a privilege to help patients gain freedom from their glasses and contact lenses through laser vision correction.”
Alexa gained clinical experience through externships at hospitals and health centers around the country, including a health center in Atwater, California, a clinic at a naval station in Norfolk, VA, and at a veteran’s affairs hospital in New York’s Hudson Valley. The experiences, she says, were humbling.
“Working with the veterans and active-duty military gives one such humility and respect for those who have served and continue to serve our country,” she says. “These are people who have sacrificed and taken time away from their lives and families to protect our country and our freedom, one of the most selfless acts.”
Living and working away from home also broadened her perspective. One of Alexa’s most memorable experiences in college was the summer she spent studying abroad at Oxford University’s Merton College. While there, she traveled around Dublin, London, and Paris. “The trip was unlike any I’ve ever taken before, or since,” she says. “It opened my eyes both educationally and culturally.”
Biology professor Ryan Wynne, Ph.D., says he knew Alexa would be successful from the first day he met her in a General Biology class. “Her intellect mixed with her charismatic personality led me to believe from day one that she would be a wonderful health care provider,” he says. “Having the chance to see her succeed at STAC, and then to witness her develop professionally is one of the many reasons I became a college professor.”
Drawing from her own experience, Alexa says she would encourage today’s students to step outside their comfort zones and to choose a career that makes them happy. She also strongly recommends shadowing and interning to get experience in the field.
In her free time, Alexa enjoys spending time outdoors, snowboarding, and exercising. She is a self-proclaimed Pure Barre enthusiast and has taken more than 400 classes to date. She’s aiming to hit 500 by year-end, with hopes to become a part-time instructor.