Education has always been at the heart of the decisions Gabriel has made in life. His natural ability to lead and affinity to learn has allowed him to pursue many diverse opportunities, ultimately leading him to his dream career as a Licensed Optician. This is Gabriel’s story.
Gabriel Visentin was raised by musician parents in the small, sleepy town of Lethbridge, Alberta. While he loved his town’s vast, open skies and friendly people, he longed for something more. At the age of 15, he decided to move to Toronto, Ontario, to attend boarding school. He was searching for greater opportunities academically, athletically, and socially. While excellent grades got him there, he explains that it was his independence and determination to learn that kept him there. He was amongst the top students in his class and became assistant captain of the football and rugby teams in his senior year.
I think my education is never going to stop… I’m going to be one of those individuals that find themselves back in school to learn something new, even while I’m working.
After high school, Gabriel wasn’t sure what to do next. Interested in science and medicine, he began his post-secondary career at the University of Ottawa, completing an honours Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Science (Neuroscience Option). Believing neuroscience is a subset of psychology, Gabriel returned to school, this time to do a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, from which he graduated Summa Cum Laude. He was particularly interested in how neuroscience pathways influence how people express themselves in abnormal ways.
When he wasn’t studying, he played Rugby for the University of Ottawa, participated in volunteer initiatives and held part-time jobs.
A wandering eye
It was one of Gabriel’s part-time jobs that led him to school once again. He worked as a Lab Technician at LensCrafters, manufacturing lenses. Constantly being in the eye care environment piqued his interest in the industry. He was particularly interested in the combination of patient care and patient education he’d see Licensed Opticians providing their clients.
In his own words, school kept calling him back. So, he decided to look into Optician diplomas. He was looking for something that would be primarily remote, accredited, and have a short course curriculum. This is when he found Stenberg.
Gabriel’s desire to share knowledge grew with the program, as he often helped his classmates. Alvin Douglas-Perez said, “Gabe was our go-to guy when it came to asking for help. He was very accommodating and approachable. He demonstrated great leadership skills and felt responsible for others.” Lorena Gutierrez Sanchez, an international student, also spoke of the support she received from Gabriel, saying, “He was always at the top of the class but still shared his knowledge and notes with us. He is intelligent, educated, and friendly with a strong desire to help.”
At Stenberg, Gabriel thrived. He got to know the intricacies of the career he had been watching from the sidelines for the past few years. He says he enjoyed the program and found that it gave him the tools and knowledge he needed to help people further. He missed the in-person classes, which is often the case with online programs, but says Stenberg made up for it with in-person labs.
Gabriel was always at the top of the class but still shared his knowledge and notes with us. He is intelligent, educated, and friendly with a strong desire to help.Alvin Douglas-Perez
Master of the eye
Client education is what Gabriel loves most about his new career. Client interactions can go on for as long as 30-40 minutes, and he says it could be longer if he had more time. He loves it when his clients have or develop their own curiosities as they chat with him. “I love being able to find ways to connect with individuals and help them understand what they’re getting into because it’s extremely important. It’s part of their health.” He also can’t help but let out a friendly laugh when a client has the “I can see!” moment, saying it is one of the most enjoyable experiences of being an Optician.
I love being able to find ways to connect with individuals and help them understand what they’re getting into because it’s extremely important. It’s part of their health.
His manager, Keith Trahan, had this to say about him, “Gabriel’s disposition in practice is a highlight I’d like to celebrate with you. Not once have I seen him carry a negative, ‘can’t do this,’ or discouraged attitude in our practice. In fact, quite the opposite. Gabriel is clearly passionate about what he does, and it reflects clearly in his work, that much is clear to me. He cares about our patients and while we all enjoy serving them, our ‘tableside’ manner when we select frames or perform contact lens follow-ups speaks volumes of us as practitioners. I certainly think it’s a set of skills and personality that cannot be overlooked. The skills, work ethic and friendly disposition that he brings to the workplace are all great assets that Gabriel carries.”
A lifelong learner, Gabriel says, “I think my education is never going to stop. It’s always going to be ongoing. I’m going to be one of those individuals that find themselves back in school to learn something new, even while I’m working.”
Since graduating, he has been researching programs in Europe that specialize in more niche areas of Opticianry, such as handmade frames. He hopes to bring that knowledge back to Canada and provide this specialized service through his own custom eyewear business. He has also been looking into pursuing a Master’s of Clinical Vision Science, a program based in Halifax that specializes in straightening the eyes.
Gabriel lives in Ottawa with his girlfriend of two and a half years, who is also a Licensed Optician. He has passed his licensing exam and is enjoying fitting eyeglasses and contact lenses as a Licensed Optician at LensCrafters. He is clearly shy when asked to share his current wage: $33/hour. His location is right across the street from Parliament Hill, which brings in interesting clients. Life is good.