In one of her first courses at Bryant, Abigail Enck ’20 was asked a deceptively simple question by one of her professors. “I'll never forget,” says Enck, “she asked, ‘If you could do anything for the rest of your life, what would you choose?’”
That question led Enck to consider her skills, her interests, and how best she could aid others – and decided a career as a pediatric optometrist would allow her to make a difference in people’s lives, “Your sight is connected to so much joy in a person's life,” Enck says. “I want to be able to help people, and as an optometrist I can have an immediate impact."
She sought out Professor of Science and Technology Kirsten Hokeness, Ph.D. Together, they planned her studies, taking care to choose courses that would prepare Enck for her future. “Bryant’s Biology program offers so many things that other schools can’t offer,” notes Enck. “One of the most important is the relationships you build with your professors.”
Enck found another unique opportunity in the lab of Professor of Science and Technology Chris Reid, Ph.D. Through a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, she joined Reid in his studies and, after summer concluded, continued her work as a research assistant. Her time in the lab, she says, prepared her for postgraduate study; she’s currently readying her findings for publication.
“I’m glad I was able to take such a different kind of course. I learned about leadership, but it also taught me a lot about myself.”
“I was looking for an opportunity that would expand my chances of getting into med school and I wanted to do something that would stand out," she recalls. “Being part of Professor Reid’s SURF Lab is one of the best academic decisions you can make.”
Enck excelled in her science coursework, learning more about a range of subjects related to biology and medicine. Other courses aided her in developing complementary skills. Enck, who aspires to open her own optometry practice, picked up a minor in Human Resource Management that will assist her in running her future business. “HR is all about people. It's all about how we interact, work with one another, and create a great job environment,” she says. “When I have my own employees, I want them to feel that they're valued and that they belong there and that I can help them get to where they want to be as well.”
Professor Lori Coakley’s Women in Leadership course taught her how to make the most of her potential. The class discussed issues like compensation, negotiation, and keeping true to one’s values – lessons, Enck says, that will help her not only to succeed, but to do so on her own terms. “I’m glad I was able to take such a different kind of course,” she reflects. “I learned about leadership, but it also taught me a lot about myself.”
“Everyone at Bryant wants to be there for your shining moments and help you through your harder ones. That means a lot to me because college isn't always easy and, at Bryant, I never felt like I was alone.”
Enck also made a point of finding ways to grow outside of her studies. She developed leadership skills as a member of the University’s Senior Advisory Council and as co-founder of the Pre-Health Association. Her time as a Head Resident Assistant helped her learn how to work and empathize with others – important skills for the medical field, she notes.
The education and experiences acquired over her four years at Bryant aided Enck in earning a spot in Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences’ Doctorate of Optometry program. As she prepares for the next step on her journey, Enck is grateful for the friends and mentors who have supported her.
“Everyone at Bryant wants to be there for your shining moments and help you through your harder ones,” she says. “That means a lot to me because college isn't always easy and, at Bryant, I never felt like I was alone.”