When asked the customary question, “Where are you from?”, I often reply in a seemingly sarcastic way. Not so much because I am trying to make light of the question, but more so because the reality is that I am from many places. The short answer would be that I was born and raised a Jersey girl. I must state for the record, and some of you may be relieved to know, that I have no intention of implying an association with any reality TV show. The more complex but true statement is that I was born and raised in New Jersey to parents of Pakistani origin; and I lived in England for 14 years of my adult life. Yes, by that, I mean the United Kingdom. And no, I did not adopt a distinct English accent. I like to think of my accent as being somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, neither American nor British. Actually, it is not so much the way I sound, but rather the way I form my sentences that reveals my British side. You can be the judge of that if you continue to read my blogs or stop me in the hallway for a chinwag (British colloquial/slang for ‘a chat’).

After graduating from The College of New Jersey, I moved to England for family reasons. After a few years of living in England, I went back to school and earned a Bsc Honors in Optometry from The Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, UK. For the better part of seven years, I worked as a ‘high street optometrist,’ which I believe in the USA people refer to as a retail optometrist. Fast forward 14 years from the time that I first moved to the UK, and that brings me to the stage in my life when I decided to move back to the USA. As many of you may agree, sometimes life takes us places and sometimes we take our life places. My decision to move back to the USA was based on the latter.

I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to continue my work as an optometrist, but I did realize that my professional journey back to the USA would not be an easy one. Nonetheless, I was up for the challenge and that is what brings me to NECO. As many of you may know, NECO offers the Advanced Standing International Program (ASIP) to foreign trained optometrists who aspire to earn the OD degree. In the context of the optometry world as I know it, I foresee my future colleagues and patients alike asking the customary question, “Where are you from?” Without hesitation and with pride I will respond, “I am from the Advanced Standing International Program of Optometry at NECO!”