Anna Eby has known for a long time that she wants to go into the medical field, but she wasn’t always sure what area. “Except I was sure I wasn’t going into dentistry,” she says with a laugh. She has lots of dentists in her family, she explains, and she knew she wanted to try something different.

During her undergraduate studies at VCU, she decided she was leaning toward optometry. “I started going to the eye doctor in elementary school,” she remembers. “It was the one doctor’s appointment I looked forward to.” So Anna looked for a place where she could volunteer and learn more. She started coming to CrossOver to work in the vision clinic at least once a week beginning almost two years ago. “CrossOver really solidified that decision for me,” she says.

Cheryl Thimothi also saw an eye doctor beginning when she was a young child. As she grew, Cheryl’s vision worsened, and she struggled with self-confidence. But when she was eighteen, everything changed. “I had a realization,” she says. “I felt that God was leading me into this path where I could help other people, especially children in a similar situation to what I experienced.”

Cheryl heard about CrossOver from a friend and was drawn in by the phrase “compassionate healthcare.” She began volunteering during her senior year at VCU. “Crossover is not just a place where I volunteer,” she says, “but it is the place where I really fell in love with the field of eye care.”

Dr. Sam Smart first heard of CrossOver when he read about us in a Virginia Optometric Association newsletter. About six months ago, he began driving down from Fredericksburg twice a month to volunteer, and he would often work with Anna and Cheryl during his shifts. “We would talk off and on,” he says. “They told me they were interested in pursuing optometry as a career, and I was glad to encourage them.” Dr. Smart wrote recommendation letters for both Anna and Cheryl when they applied to Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University—Dr. Smart’s alma mater. “It wasn’t my recommendation that got them in,” Dr. Smart is quick to clarify. “They’re both very good.”

Anna and Cheryl, who met at CrossOver, will head off to Salus this fall and attend optometry school together. Karen Bosley, CrossOver’s vision coordinator, who also wrote letters for Anna and Cheryl, is sure both women will be excellent optometrists. “I have been impressed with their intellect, compassion, eagerness to learn, and attention to detail,” she says. “They have been a blessing to us from the first day.”

Dr. Smart remembers his own mentors fondly and is glad to have played a small part in Anna’s and Cheryl’s journeys. Still, he’ll be a little sad to see them go. “I will miss them,” he says.

To learn more about volunteering at CrossOver, visit or email