Featured Faculty Fridays: Sarah Hilkert Rodriguez, MD, MPH

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Bright and bubbly, Sarah Hilkert Rodriguez, MD, MPH, is everything you could hope for in a pediatric ophthalmologist.  However, becoming a physician was not originally part of her future plans.  “I was actually a philosophy major in college,” she explains.  During her junior year, she spent a semester studying Spanish in Mexico, where she also volunteered and met many physicians and nurses.  Inspired, Dr. Rodriguez made the decision to take the MCAT and apply to medical school.  While enrolled at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, she traveled to Ghana, where she established her love for ophthalmology while working with patients having cataract surgery: “I liked the idea of having a very unique skill that could improve quality of life for patients in such a meaningful way.”

Dr. Rodriguez completed her fellowship training at the Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago.  She enjoys being an ophthalmologist because she feels that “the opportunity to wake up every morning and hopefully make a difference in someone’s life is truly a gift.”  We are excited to have her join our team, and happy to find that the feeling seems to be mutual.  She enthuses, “The University of Chicago has always had a great reputation and, with Dr. Colby as Chair, I really like the direction in which the Department of Ophthalmology is moving.  It’s an exciting time of growth, and I’m honored to be a part of this exceptional department and institution.”

When asked why she specializes in pediatric ophthalmology, she answers with her own question: “What could be more fun than working with kids every day?”

What would people be most surprised to learn about you?  “My grandfather is a WWII veteran who was captured in the Battle of the Bulge.  He was a prisoner of war for four months, and received a Purple Heart.  Upon returning, he proposed to his childhood sweetheart, and they were married for 70 years.  We will celebrate his 95th birthday on October 30th!”

Where can you be found on the weekends?  “Watching Notre Dame Football, running, salsa dancing, or visiting my family (including my niece and goddaughter, Jacqueline, in the photo with me!).”

Any final thoughts?  “I’m hopeful that new technology will allow us to have a significant impact on preventable causes of childhood blindness worldwide.”