Former See to Succeed patient envisions eye care career
Terrifying in a good way. Sebastian Solis describes the moment he stared at the chalkboard through glasses. The white squiggles and blobs transformed into words.
“It wasn’t that I couldn’t understand the content,” Solis said. “I just couldn’t see.”
Complaining about headaches, the 6-year-old had visited the school nurse. But it was
his eyes, not his head. While his parents wanted to help, money was tight. Instead,
Pasadena ISD bussed him to the See to Succeed program, where medical partners and
professionals provided eye exams, glasses, and medical referrals. There, he was diagnosed
with 20/200 vision and fitted for free glasses. Solis remembers looking through tray
after tray of frames in all colors and sizes.
"It was like being in a candy shop,” he said.
His new pair of Coke-bottle glasses helped him “see to succeed” throughout elementary school.
Fast forward almost 20 years. Interested in health care since high school, Solis had considered San Jacinto College’s radiography and nursing programs. But with his family’s history of vision problems, the eye care technology program seemed the natural step. He started in fall 2022.
“The thing that solidified everything was when I started practicing on fellow students that first semester,” he said. “The minute I got into this role play of teaching the patient, I loved it.”
In the spring semester, Solis learned he would get hands-on training by giving eye exams to real patients, Pasadena ISD students with vision issues. This service learning opportunity made his jaw drop.
Sight helps us experience the world. Providing the necessary screening to help save someone’s sight is my No. 1 drive.
“It was an aha moment,” Solis said. “This is the program I was a part of.”
In February 2023, See to Succeed celebrated its 100,000th student. Participating for the second time, Solis trained other student volunteers and helped kids stay calm during the non-contact, or air-puff, tonometer test.
“It was a blessing for me to return that favor for the community,” he said.
Since completing his certificate of technology in summer 2023, Solis plans to work in an ophthalmology office before returning to the College for his associate degree. Whatever the case, there’s no doubt his vision is helping others restore theirs.
“Sight helps us experience the world,” he said. “Providing the necessary screening to help save someone’s sight is my No. 1 drive.”
See to Succeed 2023 by the Numbers
Check out more stories from the Chancellor's Report to the Community.