Nadia Afkhami’s ‘Eye Am Nadia’ Functions as her Social Media Personal Diary

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Nadia Afkhami is a second-year optometry student at the Western University of Health Science in Pomona, Calif. With a master’s degree in biomedical sciences from Barry University in Miami, Afkhami made the decision to pursue optometry after observing the relationships optometrists often make with their patients. After having lived in Orlando for most of her life, (she was born in Iran and migrated when she was 2), Afkhami decided to create Eye Am Nadia in an effort to chronicle her life as a budding optometrist in California for her friends back home to see. Now with over 2,000 followers, the Instagram page has become a community.

“It was a fun way to show all my friends and family what I’m up to,” Afkhami told VMail Weekend. “I’d seen so many medical/dental Instagrams but not so many optometry students. I started getting a lot of questions about applying from pre-optometry students, so much support from people in the industry—doctors started reaching out to me. And it became more of a community.”

Though the page has grown beyond what Afkhami anticipated, Eye Am Nadia has come with the same challenges many people face when they first get on social media—authenticity. “Trying not overthinking it has been the biggest challenge for me,” Afkhami stated. “At first, I was getting caught up on color schemes, times to post, follower count, engagement, etc. But then I realized, for me, it’s not about that.” Afkhami discovered the most important thing is to keep her content authentic and true to the voice and perspective that urged her supporters to follow her in the first place.

“My Instagram is more about sharing my everyday life. A diary,” she stated. “Not everything I post is optometry related. Some days it’s about a trip I took, a place I was excited about, a post about my family, my friends. All these things help show people that there is life outside of optometry. On my story, I’m unapologetically myself—I sing (terribly) in the car, share all my mistakes, funny things that happen and rant about things I get annoyed about.”

Afkhami’s honesty on Instagram has helped in getting other industry influencers to connect with her. She considers doctors Arian Fartash (Glam Optometrist) and Jennifer Lyerly (Eye.Dolatry) as some of her role models. She stated, “Two of the biggest and most supportive people I’ve been lucky enough to have in my life are Dr. Lyerly and Dr. Fartash. These women have shown me how to be a strong woman and never give up on what I want. Both have been incredible role models and have done so with the utmost grace and humility.”

She also lists Dr. Fayiz Mahgoub as a supporter and someone who encourages students to let their voices be heard. “I remember mentioning to him how I wanted to work on a presentation for the upcoming Transitions Academy, but I was so doubtful of myself. He told me, ‘you have no idea the kind of power you have as a student,’” she explained. “I realized we are the future of optometry. We are the halfway point between consumer and ECP. We have so much to contribute to this industry. There are so many optometrist and industry professionals out there already giving advice and making their voices heard, but how many students are doing the same? This is an influential time for us, and we have more to give then we give ourselves credit for.”

In addition to Eye Am Nadia the Instagram page, Afkhami also has a blog of the same name under construction. However, unlike the Instagram page which she updates at least once a day—more often if she attends conferences or other events—the webpage requires more of her time. “It’s hard to give as much time to my website as I would like. I’d like to make it an advice page for applicants. A resource I wish I had as a pre-optometry student. The blog will hopefully be more insightful—sharing what I’ve learned and what I wish I had done differently,” she said.

As Eye Am Nadia continues to grow on Instagram, Afkhami hopes people continue being compelled to connect with her. “I want to be the kind of account you feel like you can just message me anytime,” she stated. “The connections I make every day are so rewarding. Being able to give advice to people who are struggling with applications when I was once in their shoes; and in return, getting advice from people who were once in my shoes. Not only that but, connecting with other professions. At our school we have some people in dental, medicine and nursing, posting and being able to connect with them and seeing what’s going on in their lives is also fun.”