Sebastian Solis, eye care technology student at San Jac.

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, his school bussed him to See to Succeed, where San Jacinto College eye care technology students and eye professionals examined him, diagnosed him with 20/200 vision, and fitted him for free glasses. Solis remembers looking through tray after tray of frames in all colors and styles.

Eye care technology program student in college lab

Sebastian Solis

“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 Jac’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, See to Succeed, would bring together medical partners and professionals to provide eye exams, glasses, and medical referrals. His jaw dropped.

“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 has been taking additional optical training and looking at optical offices and private practices. He eventually hopes to return 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.”

Vision for Success

See to Succeed took place this year Feb. 26-March 1 at the Pasadena Convention Center. Approximately 20,000 K-12 students in the Houston area have vision issues. Each year eye care volunteers and professionals evaluate 1,300+ Pasadena ISD students, providing prescriptions, glasses, and medical referrals.

Learn more about San Jac’s eye care technology program.

By Courtney Morris