Associate Optometrist Mari Hirata

Hometown:  Kanazawa, Japan

Graduation year: 1983

Major: Mathematics

What other degrees have you earned and from which educational institutions?

Doctor of Optometry, University of Missouri-St. Louis College of Optometry
Post-Doctoral Residency Program, University of Alabama at Birmingham-School of Optometry

What is your current career position?

Associate Optometrist at Sowash Optometry Group, Denver, Colorado.

Describe your current work.

Provide primary eyecare for patients.

What are your future goals?

To continue to provide exemplary service to my patients and to become fluent in German and Spanish in order to travel internationally after retirement.

In terms of your professional life, what would you say is your overarching purpose today?

To be the best optometrist that I can be for each and every patient I treat.

How did your time at Westminster help you find that purpose? Did your liberal arts education allow you to uncover particular passions that you’ve carried into your career?

Westminster showed me how to be a strong woman in a sea of men. Individual faculty inspired me to excel.

Were any relationships you formed at Westminster particularly influential in helping you find clarity of purpose?

Absolutely. I maintain close friendships with most of my suitemates from G Suite.

What does being a leader mean to you? What did you learn about leadership while at Westminster, and how has that translated into your life since graduation?

I saw that female students at Westminster were in positions of leadership. This helped me to develop a philosophy of leadership through example. Since becoming a Doctor of Optometry, I have always tried to lead by example.

What does success mean to you?

Find happiness in what you do, and always strive for achievement at the end of each day.

What is it about Westminster that makes it the kind of community that empowers students to discover their purpose and find success?

The small class size, caring and engaged professors and a motivated student body all contributed to this.

Do you recommend Westminster to prospective college students?

Yes. Because of its small size, student-oriented professors,and the ability to make lifelong friends.

Favorite Westminster faculty member?

Dr. Kent Palmer

Favorite spot on campus?

The Science Center!!

Last book you read?

Say Something by Cathy Morrison (also a Westminster aluma)

Favorite movie?

Wonder Woman, 2017

Favorite app?


Favorite way to spend a Sunday?

Hiking in nature with loved ones




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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.