Dr. Marianne Boltz ’92 graduated magna cum laude from LVC with a B.S. in biology before heading to
Philadelphia to pursue a doctor of optometry degree at the Pennsylvania College
of Optometry. After completing her degree in 1996, she moved to Chicago for a
residency in pediatric optometry at the Illinois College of Optometry. She
returned to central Pennsylvania in 1997 enter private practice, later joining
the faculty of the Penn State Hershey Eye Center in 2003, where she specializes
in pediatric eye care and low-vision rehabilitation. She is an associate
professor of ophthalmology and regularly provides both didactic and clinical
education to medical students as well as residents in the fields of
ophthalmology, internal medicine, and family medicine.
was named the Pennsylvania Optometric Association’s Optometrist of the Year in
2007 and is the 2014 president of that organization, having served on their
board of directors for the past six years. She also was recently appointed by Governor Tom Corbett ’71 to the
Advisory Council for the Blind of Pennsylvania. Boltz has been an LVC Career
Connections Mentor for many years and was chosen to be one of the College’s
2014 Lazin Series Resident Scholars.
wasn’t always clear to Boltz that optometry would be her chosen field. Originally
an elementary education major at LVC, Boltz changed her major to biology in her
sophomore year. “At that time, I was still unsure whether to pursue a career
teaching biology or enter the medical field,” she says. “Then, the summer
between sophomore and junior year, I went for my yearly routine eye exam. I
told my family optometrist about my career dilemma and he asked me if I ever
thought about optometry. It’s rare that you can look back on a single
conversation that really changed your life, but honestly, it led me to a career
that I love.”
How did you acquire your
someone would just ask me that out of the blue, I would say I really don’t see
myself as a competitive person. But I’ve always been motivated to do my best
and to be the best I can be.
What motivates you?
always had intense personal internal motivation to succeed, but never felt the
need to compare my accomplishments to those of others. For as long as I can
remember, I’ve been critical of myself and would most likely be considered a perfectionist.
My parents never, ever had to tell me to do my homework and get good grades—it
was just what I expected of myself.
What activities, people, or
courses at LVC helped you prepare for success?
biology major, it was a big advantage to have smaller class sizes, particularly
in higher-level biology classes where there were 10 to 20 students in each
class. Professors knew you personally, not as a number. You not only felt
compelled to do well for yourself and your GPA, but for feat that you might
hear from the professor if you didn’t do your best! I can still remember Dr. Erskine [Dale, chair and professor
of biology] walking down the hall in Garber and asking me what happened to me
on one not-so-stellar quiz! They knew you well enough to light a fire under you
if they thought you weren’t working up to par—there was truly an investment
made by those professors.
there was also the rigor of the academic program, particularly in
biology/pre-med. I think many of my biology classmates who went into the
medical field would agree that our graduate medical education wasn’t so
profoundly more challenging than our studies at LVC. In other words, we were
very well prepared for success as we entered our graduate medical training
lucky to have been chosen for a Presidential Leadership Scholarship while at
The Valley. I have no doubt that the leadership courses I was required to take
as part of that scholarship program helped prepare me for future leadership
positions I would hold.
What’s most important to remain
competitive in your field?
is a very equipment-oriented and technology-based field, so that requires me to
stay on top of the latest advances in that technology. The continuing education
I’m required to complete on a yearly basis also helps me learn about any new
medical advances, ocular disease treatments, and new medications. This
information helps me provide the best care to my patients and to be at the
cutting edge of the field.
How do you prepare physically
and mentally for competition?
remember what my mother and father always told me” make sure to get enough
Who is your favorite competitive
role model is actually one of my good friends, Dr. Christine Allison. She’s a
professor of pediatrics at the Illinois College of Optometry, and she has
insatiable energy and drive that’s just amazing. She is married with three
children and balances that with a career full of outstanding accomplishments.
Christine has always had a competitive drive in sports; somehow she finds time
to run marathons and play in tennis tournaments. I admire her ability to do all
these well and maintain a balance in her life. She makes it look easy.
Do you have a guiding philosophy
general, to be the best person I can be to succeed, but balance that internal
pressure so as not to give myself an ulcer!
Which leaders inspire you? Why?
leaders for whom I have the most respect are those leaders who are in the
trenches with others, those that lead by example and inspire others to do their
best. I always liked the quote by Lao Tsu that says, “A leader is best when
people barely know he exists, and when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, his
people will say, ‘We did it ourselves.’”
leaders don’t care about their position: they’re focused on fulfilling their
vision, their passion—those are the people you’re going to want to follow.
What makes LVC competitive?
say that the strong academic scholarships and quality education help attract
those top students that could attend other excellent colleges, but choose The
Valley. Case in point, this happened to one of my patients, an extremely
talented young woman who probably could have had her pick of Ivy League
schools. Other than that, the benefits and attributes of the school really
speak for themselves. If you’re looking for a private liberal arts education,
Lebanon Valley makes it an easy decision.
What advice would you give to
current LVC students?
I would stress the importance of finding a balance between work and play,
studying and socializing. Yes, the primary reason you’re in college is to get
an education, but there’s also life lessons to learn from a social perspective.
Once you can attain that balance, it will carry through for the rest of your
is to avoid procrastination. I struggled with this for so many years. Procrastinating
doesn’t make life easier—it makes it much harder. I wish I’d come to that
I’d tell students not to be frustrated if they come into their freshman year
undecided on a major or future career. Know that the right choice will
eventually come to you, one way of another. Time, and a little bit of research
and talking to or shadowing people in careers that interest you—finding out
what they do day to day—can really be helpful.