FALL 2019


Each issue, Dr. Mark Colip proposes a new topic to members of the ICO family. With the help of noted alumni, he puts a spotlight on important people at ICO and across the profession of optometry.

“With a history dating back to 1872, ICO’s alumni network spans generations. A significant number of our students first hear about ICO through an influential mentor or family member. How did you become a mentor, and what impact has the act of mentorship made on your life? Your alma mater? The profession? Has your attitude about mentorship changed over time?”


2019 ICO Alumnus of the Year

It’s important to give gratitude to those individuals whose hard work and sacrifices made it possible for us to achieve success. I am grateful to the many mentors who have been influential in my life; I would not be where I am today if it were not for their commitment.

My father lives his life by example. He is continually sharing his gifts of time, talent, and love with his seven children, community, and church. I am grateful for the many mentors at ICO who taught me the art of optometry- mentors like Dr. Leonard Messner. Also, I am indebted to my former and retired professional business partners Bernard Nevel, OD ’55, and Richard Weiss, MD. They taught me to always do what’s in the best interest of my patients, to do it to the best of my ability, and always show patients how much I care.

I truly believe that success is defined by helping others to become successful. Our practice is fortunate to serve as an externship site for ICO. I would say that my greatest role as a mentor has been taking in students who have an interest in optometry but may not have had the exposure, guidance, or clear direction during college. It is truly an honor to watch these students grow and develop in their careers.

The greatest gift about mentorship is that it creates a legacy- a legacy of doctors who make a meaningful impact, and who will also help others to become successful.


Shui-Chin Lee Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science Chief, Vitreoretinal Service, University of Chicago American Society of Retina Specialists Crystal Apple Award Winner


I joined the University of Chicago in 2005, and at that time, established the Fellowship in the Diseases and Surgery of the Retina, Macula, and Vitreous. I accept one Fellow every year and they spend 104 weeks with our Retina Service. Our Fellowship is ASRS and AUPO accredited. Through the generosity of very special donors who believed in my vision to create a better tomorrow for our patients and our community through education, our two fellowship positions are fully endowed. 

My own passion for mentorship began as my way of paying it forward as I had numerous great mentors who spent their valuable time educating me throughout my career. However, over the past several years, my thoughts about mentorship evolved to where I now realize that the students, residents, and fellows I train are my legacy. Mentorship is very important to me; it has allowed me to have such a fulfilling professional career. I am very grateful to have such impressive colleagues at the Illinois Eye Institute and the University of Chicago who support my efforts to train outstanding eye care professionals.


President and Managing Partner, Willcockson Eye Associates, Yankton, S.D.

Throughout the course of my training at ICO, I was fortunate to establish meaningful and lasting relationships with staff and faculty members. The mentoring received throughout my residency at the Illinois Eye Institute was essential for a career providing medical eye care. Many of these same individuals continue to serve ICO. The dedication demonstrated by Drs. Pete Russo, John Baker, Stephanie Messner, Michael Chaglasian, Len Messner, and so many others acts as a guidepost as we serve our profession. 

Mentoring is not a role to which most of us ascribe. Rather, it is an unassuming relationship built on mutual trust and humility. I have had opportunities to act as a resource for past and current students of ICO. These interactions have enabled me to be a better clinician, father, husband, and friend. These young men and women have allowed me to humbly accept success, while teaching me to fight failure with tenacity and dignity. Most importantly, mentoring has made me realize our greatest victories in life are overcoming obstacles that can be, at times, unrelenting. My hope is that, while emulating those that guided me during my training, I will positively impact my community and others that choose to serve optometry. In doing so, we will effectively represent the standard of excellence demanded by ICO and our profession. 





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