DuBOIS — One of the ways Dr. Wendy Strouse Watt likes to be involved in the community is working with DuBois Area High School teacher Doug Brennan and his students as they prepare the science projects they present and compete through the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science.
“I include them in my ongoing research,” said Watt, a DuBois optometrist. “We’ve done prisms and we’ve done electrical stimulation for macular degeneration, Stargardt’s disease, and now optic nerve disease.”
Over the past five years, she’s mentored six students.
“It’s once a year. They present their projects in March,” said Watt.
She mentored DAHS graduate Corey Giles for three years. Last year, he received second place for his project on improving eyesight at the regional PJAS competition. The previous year, Giles achieved a first award at the regional competition and then presented at the state competition.
This year, Watt is working with Michaela Albers, a ninth-grader, who presented her project, “Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion.”
“It’s good to give back to the community, but it’s also good to get kids started as researchers,” said Watt. “I like to plant a seed for them.”
What she likes most about mentoring the students is their enthusiasm.
“They’re so eager to learn,” said Watt. “And they pick my brain.”
This month, “the DAHS Science Team recognized Watt for her unwavering support to our students conducting research for the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science for the past five years of allowing students to conduct research at her office,” said Brennan. “The students thought this would be an appropriate way to show their appreciation.”
“I had no idea. I thought I was just coming to listen to their presentations,” said Watt. “It’s exciting that they appreciate what I do.”
Watt said she always knew she wanted to be an optometrist when she was a junior at DAHS.
That, she said, was the year she started playing basketball.
“I was supposed to shoot. My coach said, ‘Why didn’t you shoot?’” recalled Watt. “I was wearing safety glasses and they were all fogged up. I couldn’t see to shoot. At the same time, my mom’s friend had cataract surgery, and I got contacts and I couldn’t believe a piece of plastic would help me, and another piece of plastic would help her, see. And so, I went to the guidance counselor’s office. They had an office with a library. And they had a book for the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. And that’s when I first decided I’d become an eye doctor.”
Watt graduated with honors from the Pennsylvania College Of Optometry in 1989 and has practiced at her Beaver Drive office, the DuBois Vision Clinic, for more than 31 years.
Watt has been married to Mark Watt since 1991. They live in the Reynoldsville area with their five cats.