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2024 - Shelby Stanley shares unconventional journey into ophthalmic tech

Tags: Academics | Administrator Profile
Published 04/08/2024
Shelby Stanley, ophthalmic technician program director

Shelby Stanley, ophthalmic technician program director

Since childhood, my fascination with biology and health care sciences has been unwavering. It began with seeing my mother work hard for her nursing degree from a community college. As a single mother working through college with a full-time job, she had to bring me everywhere, even study groups. By four years old, I was helping answer the musculoskeletal system flashcards they were studying.

My own college experience took me through various biology disciplines, from pre-medicine to zoology to microbiology and entomology. Although I initially ventured into biochemistry and agricultural entomology post-graduation, those roles failed to ignite a lasting passion. It wasn't until years later that I found my way back to health care as an ophthalmic technician.

Becoming an ophthalmic technician marked the first time a job truly felt like a calling for me. Each day brought the joy of collaborating with my ophthalmologist to puzzle out the best course of action for our patients. Despite the specialized nature of the field, I found myself continually learning and growing, mastering tasks from surgical assisting to ophthalmic imaging. This role has transcended mere employment, evolving into a genuine passion that I am thrilled to share through Elgin Community College’s inaugural Ophthalmic Technician Program.

The ophthalmic community eagerly anticipates our program’s first graduates this May, recognizing the pressing need for skilled technicians in the field. With an aging population and rapid advancements in eye care technology, the demand for ophthalmic technicians is only expected to rise. By training students in this specialized field, ECC is not only meeting the needs of the industry but also fulfilling its responsibility to produce skilled professionals who can make meaningful contributions to society.

In addition to industry needs, specialized health care degrees offered at ECC, such as ophthalmic tech, medical assisting, physical therapy assisting, and more, only require the initial degree received to find a job in that role. Continuing to a four-year institution is not always an option for prospective students. That is what is so special about ECC. There are over 120 degrees and programs that allow students to truly explore and find the path that is right for them.

I hope that students with a penchant for helping others will explore the diverse array of health professions available at ECC. Perhaps, like me, they will find their true calling in an unexpected place, forging a path toward fulfillment and success. After all, sometimes the happiest outcomes emerge from the most unexpected journeys.

Learn more about ECC’s Ophthalmic Technician Program by visiting