My name is Shannon Peckham, I’m from the Tubba-gah people, Wiradjuri nation, Dubbo NSW and I am an Optometrist. I always knew I wanted to go to university because I wanted to have choices in my career. I decided on Optometry by chance when my friend suggested it to me.
A Bachelor of Optometry is required to be an optometrist and this is a university course ranging from 3-7 years in length depending on where you study. You need to have a strong academic record from high school to qualify for entry because there are limited places available. I went straight from school to university. My parents were very supportive and from a young age they instilled in me the importance of gaining a good education and the freedoms it could bring in life.
I studied my Bachelor of Optometry in Melbourne and all my family was in North Queensland. I had never been to Melbourne and this was a big move to make. I received support from the Centre for Indigenous Education and from the University of Melbourne when I was applying for university and throughout my course. This made a huge difference to my university experience.
My family is proud of what I have achieved within my work place and that I use my professional skills to give back to communities. I volunteer for Onesight, a charity that provides free eyecare and eyewear to remote Indigenous communities. I have been lucky enough to travel to Doomadgee, Mornington Island, Mount Isa and Palm Island to provide eye care to the local people.
Sight is a basic human right and if I can help people to see better this greatly improves their quality of life. Plus I get to meet people from all different walks of life and listen to their stories.
Optometry is a job for someone who is always thinking, able to continually solve problems and is happy to help and educate people regarding eyes and eyesight. Most optometrists are in shopping centres so this means working shopping centre hours (late nights & public holidays). Presently there are many vacancies for optometrists all around Australia providing plenty of opportunities to travel and work.
I am currently the practice’s Optometry Manager, consulting full-time and in 5 years I would like to be in a regional managerial role helping other optometrists to reach their full potential.