Ohio State takes alumna from interest in science to optometrist
The comprehensive nature of Ohio State and the strength of its multiple learning environments gave Megan Rutledge the perfect environment to go from a high school senior interested in science to a doctor of optometry with patients ranging from babies to veterans of World War II.
“When I applied to college, it was a no brainer that I wanted to be a buckeye,” Rutledge said. “I was always drawn to Ohio State, mesmerized by the size of the university and how esteemed a degree from Ohio State is considered to be.”
Rutledge began her college career with no firm career goal beyond something in the sciences. A bachelor of sciences in biology was a good place to start. Completing all her coursework at Ohio State Lima let her stay close to home, save on costs, and take advantage of the small class sizes, especially in her major classes.
Getting to know Dr. Jackie Augustine, associate professor of biology, and her work in behavioral ecology sparked an interest in the research process and a senior research thesis. “I had absolutely no idea how to conduct research, let alone defend a hypothesis,” Rutledge said. She persevered, learned and contributed to the ornithological community in the process.
“Anybody that has done research knows it is hard, frustrating, time-consuming, annoying and sometimes confusing, but once you reach your goal, once you prove or disprove your hypothesis, and once you actually understand your topic of discussion, the sense of accomplishment you feel is indescribable,” Rutledge said.
Rutledge’s time and choice of activities on campus helped narrow down her future plans. Her original thought had been a career working in a microbiology laboratory. The confidence brought on by talking with hundreds of prospective students and their families while a university ambassador changed her path.
“I soon discovered that interacting with people was what I was meant to do. People are interesting and offer conversation,” Rutledge said. “Micro-organisms can be interesting but they don’t talk much.”
She chose optometry based on her deep appreciation for her own prescription glasses paired with the desire to interact with and help people.
“To learn how to practice optometry during this century has been truly remarkable,” Rutledge said. “Ohio State has revolutionized the way primary eye care is performed, and I know that I am capable of giving my patients the care they deserve all thanks to the diversity of my education.”
The social and communication skills Rutledge honed at Ohio State Lima have made her a better optometrist. The experience in undergraduate research gave her a firm footing for her time at the College of Optometry.
“During my time in optometry school, I read countless research papers and drug trials, also writing many of my own case reports,” Rutledge said. “Every single paper followed the same format: introduction, methods, results, discussion. I remember telling my parents how much easier it was for me to understand scientific writing having done my own research, having been through the process myself. The experience was invaluable.”
Megan Rutledge earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology in 2011, completing all four years of coursework at the Ohio State Lima campus. She earned her Doctorate of Optometry in 2015. In 2018, she was awarded the Ohio State Lima Early Achievement Award.
Photo (from left) Megan Rutledge, Interim Dean and Director Joe Brandesky, Associate Professor of Biology Jackie Augustine.