Home Newsmakers ­­Meet the Student Board: Rebecca Treen, SUNY

­­Meet the Student Board: Rebecca Treen, SUNY

From Small Town to the Big Apple

Rebecca Treen
Rebecca Treen

Rebecca Treen is no stranger to small towns. She was born and raised in southern Saskatchewan, Canada. She attended kindergarten to twelfth grade with the same class of 12 in a French immersion program. When she made her first big move—a 2,000-mile trek to Queen’s University for undergrad in Kingston, Ontario–it was a foreshadowing of what came next.

A photo of Treen's local road.
Treen’s main road in her hometown.

“It really does take a village to raise a child,” Treen says. “While the support I have from my small town is tremendous, no one could believe such a little girl was moving to the big city.”


Treen is now halfway through her studies at SUNY College of Optometry. Her interest in the field started when she babysat for a couple—two optometrists—who Treen says often came home happy and feeling accomplished.

“Their careers and work-life balance fascinated me,” says Treen. “They shared the positive impacts their jobs had on their patients’ lives. I knew that was the path for me.” She also spent time working with NICU nonprofit organizations and teaching fundamental math and science to elementary students through Let’s Talk Science. In the process, she developed a profound interest in nutritional science and pathophysiology.


When she finished up her bachelor’s degree in life science with a minor in French studies, she made the decision to move again—this time to the Big Apple. “My first time visiting NYC was for my admissions interview,” Treen says. “I figured I should get a feel for the city life if I wanted to commit to the optometry program at SUNY. I covered three-quarters of Manhattan in a mere three days and loved every minute of it. On the plane ride home, I was overwhelmed with tears of excitement and anxiousness. I hoped to return to pursue my studies with certainty that it was the right place and program for me.”

Treen is now heavily involved in student life at SUNY as one of her class representatives. She will serve as president for the school’s Canadian club and student anterior segment association. In 2023, she co-presented a research poster at the American Academy of Optometry with Mark Rosenfield, OD, PhD. She spoke on a WO podcast with Neda Gioia, OD, CNS, FOWNS, CFMP, and received a grant from OWNS at a networking event during AAO. “Ocular disease goes hand in hand with overall wellness,” Treen says. “SUNY has exposed me to an array of patient care and allowed me to explore many niches, as well as find my passion for nutrition in optometry.”

Treen, far right, accepts her grant at the OWNS networking event. (l-r): OWNS board member Dr. Kaleb Abbott, grant winner Steven Chen, OWNS president Dr. Neda Gioia, past president Dr. Julie Poteet .

Treen runs the Boston half marathon.
Treen runs the Brooklyn half marathon.


She’s found a second home in New York City, she says. “I’ve found a family of friends through the big-little program at SUNY. I feel grounded here now, thanks to the network of students and doctors I have met in the city.”

In her free time, Treen enjoys visiting the farmer’s market, trying new restaurants and finding “hidden” study spots. She cheers on the New York Rangers and runs along the Hudson River Greenway. She recently completed her first half marathon and shares her active lifestyle—including healthy recipes and new restaurant inspiration—on her Instagram @littlechefbec.

Treen's Instagram is full of healthy meal ideas and lifestyle inspiration.
Treen’s Instagram is full of healthy meal ideas and lifestyle inspiration.


Read more WO student advisory board stories here.

Read more newsmaker stories from WO here.

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