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Week of July 25, 2011

Staff Spotlight

Ophthalmic technician by day, children’s book 
illustrator by night

While working at Kellogg Eye Center in Livonia four years ago, a patient mentioned to Megan Wellman that she had just written a children’s book and was looking for an illustrator. Wellman said she majored in life drawing in college and asked the patient if she’d like to see some of her work.

The author sent Wellman a copy of the manuscript for her book, a story titled “Lonely Teddy,” about a teddy bear left behind at a cottage in upper Michigan. Wellman drew a few bears and the author liked them so much that she decided to use her illustrations in the book.

Photo by Daryl Marshke, U-M Photo Services.

Wellman calls illustrating children’s books her “night job,” but her day job is working as an ophthalmic technician at the Kellogg Eye Center in the U-M Health System’s Canton Health Center. She began working in an optometry office while earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Eastern Michigan University. After graduation, and with the encouragement of a doctor there, she decided to continue a career path as an ophthalmic technician.

After earning her degree Wellman had applied for her dream job as a Disney animator, but didn’t get the position. She decided it might be time to put her art on hold for a while and study to become a certified ophthalmic technician so she could move up in her current line of work.

“Getting certified gave me an outlet to continue educating myself,” Wellman says. “In the medical field things are always new and you have to keep up-to-date to recertify.”

Wellman began working at U-M in 2003. At the Kellogg Eye Center Canton clinic, she is responsible for patient triage, handling preliminary patient testing, scribing for the doctor while he or she examines the patients, and filling in as needed in many areas of the clinic.

An average of 25 to 30 patients visit the Canton Kellogg Eye Center clinic each day, Wellman says. Many of the regular visitors are geriatric patients with diabetes, cataracts and/or glaucoma, and Wellman says she enjoys listening to their life stories.

Wellman also says she loves having a job that allows her to connect with and help others. In 2004 Wellman’s dedication on the job won her the Employee of the Month award.

“I can honestly say that I try to go above and beyond for patients,” Wellman says, adding she wants to make sure that each patient has a positive experience from beginning to end every time they visit the clinic.

Wellman says she is grateful for the opportunity to continue working and growing as an artist through her illustrations. She has loved drawing since elementary school, and says that she was lucky to have the support of her teachers and parents over the years. She attributes some of her talent to her father, who also was an artist.

Over the last four years she has illustrated 11 books and takes on new stories as needed by local authors. She says she enjoys the way she can bring the characters to life with her drawings.

“I’ve just always enjoyed the human body, facial expressions, the movement … and bringing that across in a two-dimensional form,” Wellman says.

For the past year Wellman has been involved with a group of artists called Ink and Stein, based in Ypsilanti. The group, consisting of local comic artists, illustrators, and others who love drawing, meets monthly to share ideas and work on new projects in the company of other artists. Wellman says she appreciates the opportunity to connect with other artists for the first time since college.

“There’s something to be said for that energy that you get from other people,” she says.


The weekly Spotlight features staff members at the university. To nominate a candidate, please contact the Record staff at urecord@umich.edu.

 

STAFF SPOTLIGHT

Megan Wellman, ophthalmic technician II, Kellogg Eye Center, Canton Health Center, U-M Health System, on illustrating children’s books: “I’ve just always enjoyed the human body, facial expressions, the movement … and bringing that across in a two-dimensional form.”

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The Center for Japanese Studies Free Summer Film Series presents “A Scene at the Sea,” 7-9 p.m. Aug. 12, Angell Hall Auditorium A.

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