Kristina is a Harvard student with dreams of entering the medical industry and working to change lives. In fact, she’s already started making a difference with her creation of VISION, a company that seeks to provide children who can’t afford the costs of ophthalmology with glasses, eye exams and other necessary treatments. She created VISION because she never wants children to have to choose between groceries or eye health, and the company has already grown way beyond her expectations. Kristina is a woman who’s out to change the world, and we can definitely see that her future is bright.
Name: Kristina Linko
College: Harvard University
Graduation Year: Spring 2018
Website: VISION's GoFundMe
Her Campus: What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
KL: Besides my almost-record-breaking amount of Netflix that I watch, I feel like my greatest accomplishment has been how far VISION has come since its original inception. Myself along with Paul Lewis, the co-founder and co-president, and the rest of our board have been able to expand the organization past its original goals. To be a part of starting an organization that will continue to help people long after I am out of Harvard is an accomplishment I am very thankful to have been involved in. I’m very proud that we’ve been able to collect more than 3,000 pairs of glasses.
HC: What was the hardest part of creating VISION?
KL: When you’re working towards a mission that has a very specific target, in this case visual health regardless of financial status, it can be hard to relay its importance when there are other broader organizations. Certainly removing the financial barriers on the road to healthcare is a worthwhile and important mission that many would agree on. However, the hardest part of creating VISION for me has been trying to relay the necessity of visual health. Being able to get a pair of glasses is a right that so many take for granted. Unfortunately, too many aren’t able to actually afford this right. The benefits of receiving glasses goes past gaining the ability to simply see. Gaining clearer sight can present a range of additional benefits to the user; it can increase confidence, provide a tool for learning and enhance their everyday tasks. Furthermore, the lack of accessibility of even going to get a vision test is a large problem in itself. It is out of this need that Paul and I decided the club needed to evolve past solely collecting glasses. We have been trying to educate people on the wide range of positive effects that come from improved visual health.
HC: Why has your participation in VISION been so instrumental in your life?
KL: Like many people, I have had my fair share of obstacles that I’ve had to overcome. Some have been health related while some have been a seemingly constant stream of nos. When starting VISION, there were many barriers we had to surpass. However, being able to work past those road blocks is the most instrumental lesson I’ve learned from the organization. It has been rewarding to be able to reflect and realize that no matter how hard it was to get there, we were able to directly impact people’s lives for the better. I’ve found that there is truth to the notion that a few people can make a big difference.
HC: Who in your life most inspires you?
KL: My mom has been a figure of inspiration for me. She has encouraged me to reach for all my dreams and has never made them seem out of reach. She has demonstrated to me her determined approach to life and works extremely hard to accomplish whatever she sets her mind to. I am very thankful to have been taught that sentiment since I was little and I try to channel that lesson every day.
HC: What advice do you have for other ambitious collegiettes with a goal/dream?
KL: First and foremost, I would say that you should be prepared for a lot of hard work in the face of barriers. Obstacles are just a part of life. How we approach these obstacles and overcome them are just as important as our end goal. Furthermore, I’ve learned you shouldn’t be hesitant to reach out for help. It is advice that I too have to remind myself often. It is a pleasure to be able to work with other ambitious people and they can be a source of great strength and inspiration. VISION would not be where it is now without the whole team coming together, exchanging ideas and discussing our plans for the future. It continues to be beneficial to have other perspectives on the journey and I encourage everyone to reach out to others as they work towards whatever their goal may be.
HC: What are your top goals and priorities post-graduation?
KL: Post-graduation I hope to be on my way to joining the medical field towards my dream of becoming a surgeon. I can relate to the frustration of constant misdiagnosis and hope to be able to change someone else’s life for the better as my doctors have done for me. On a less professional note, I would love to be able to set aside some time to travel. I find exploring other cultures an extremely rewarding and influential experience. I feel that traveling and being open to other perspectives on life can even help me gain valuable insight into future patients I may meet, in addition to being a defining lesson in general.
HC: What is your favorite inspirational quote?
KL:“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
HC: How would you describe yourself in five words?
KL: Passionate, determined, dedicated, inquisitive, independent