Lions Eye Bank of West Central Ohio
Shannon remembers developing her love of science during 9th grade biology class in high school. Her interest was unexpected, as neither of her parents have scientific backgrounds, and up until that point, none of her other science classes really resonated with her. But after she was assigned a class project involving a 3D model of the cell – she was hooked.
She took other science coursework throughout high school, but biology remained her favorite. When Shannon attended college at the University of Findlay in Ohio, she originally thought she wanted to go into physical therapy. But after completing her observation requirements, she realized she wasn’t all that interested in that route. She graduated earning a degree in biology with a minor in chemistry.
After graduating, she was considering going to Physician Assistant school when she stumbled upon a newspaper ad looking for an eye bank recovery technician. She remembers showing the ad to her dad and saying, “This is interesting, but kind of weird.” Her dad asked, “Well, what did you expect to do with a biology degree?”
Once Shannon walked in the door at the eye bank, she knew she had found the right place for her. “I felt like I was at home. I knew this is exactly what I should be doing,” she says.
Prior to eye banking, she did not have a lot of knowledge about the field of donation, but does remember a conversation she’d had after she and one of her friend’s had passed their driver’s tests. Shannon asked why her friend wasn’t registered as an organ donor. Her friend’s mother who was standing nearby was surprised and said, “they won’t try to save you if you’re an organ donor.” Even at 16, Shannon knew that couldn’t be true. Coming to the eye bank put pieces of her history and interests together with her passions. It was science-focused, and she got to learn medical aspects through charting – but she also got to be involved with the investigative process and the social aspect, speaking with donor families and recipients.
Throughout her career, Shannon has always felt encouraged, and has benefited from the mentorship of other women like Diane Wilson, CEO of Community Tissue Services.
As the mother of a young daughter, Shannon’s advice to other women interested in STEM is, “Pursue your dreams, whatever they may be. You can be a mom and still go for you goals.” Shannon says, “We owe it to our kids to show we can break these glass ceilings. It feels like for the first time we’re really showing girls that they can be president, if they want. We’re not just saying it.”
Looking back, Shannon wouldn’t make any changes in her career path. She believes that fate led her on the right path; she’s doing what she should be doing and wouldn’t have it any other way. She expects the next 10 years to continue to bring more innovations to eye banking and cornea transplantation, and she’s excited to continue to collaborate with other who have the same mission and commitment to giving a lasting legacy to donors.