Erin M. Curtis : Distinguished Alumni Inductee

Erin M. Curtis Class of 1997 O.D.

Buccaneer Lifestyle Editor and Buccaneer Arts Editor

An initial thought while meeting Dr. Erin Curtis is that she radiates love: for her family and for what she does. Erin is a community leader, in Red Bank, the town where she grew up, and in Tinton Falls, where she lives with her husband Todd and daughters Emily, Sarah, and Elyse. Her positive attitude and determination to raise her daughters with a humble mindset are just a few of her admirable qualities.

Dr. Curtis worked hard at RBR which she claims “set the stage beautifully for my life, both personally and professionally. The Red Bank community taught me from a young age to be compassionate and loving to all…The high level of academics encouraged my passion for learning and nudged me beyond ‘comfortable,’ which truly contributed to my professional success.”


The road to her professional success took root at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, which she chose for its environment, caliber of students, and access to impressive medical programs. Upon her college graduation, she decided to forgo her initial goal of a surgical career, mostly because she wanted to form a relationship with each of her patients.  She knew that performing surgeries, while of incredible importance, did not provide intimate relationships with the people she would be helping. She desired an occupation where she could closely interact with people.

Dr. Curtis returned to Monmouth County and taught biology at Brookdale for two years. While doing this, she continued to visit her childhood optometrist, thinking optometry might be the right occupation for her. She began to shadow him for several months, which eventually led her to apply to optometry school.

Almost immediately upon graduating from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Dr. Curtis began working for her mentor. She took over his practice after only a few months. She sought to preserve his legacy, as he had formed close connections with his patients resembling a father figure to many. This also fulfilled her dream of working in Red Bank, always believing that this diverse town shaped the person she is today.

She explains, “We all look different but we all love the same. I think if you learn that when you’re five years old, you’ll carry that with you.”  

It is evident that this lesson stuck with her, as she continues to give back to the community through both her professional and volunteer work. A long-time Girl Scout, she continues to serve this organization as a Girl Scout Leader. She also maintains an active role in her church as both a worship service and children’s ministry volunteer. She and her community church visited a village in Thailand where she set up a mobile eye care unit and served almost 500 patients.


Her humble attitude does not overshadow the fact that she is both driven and determined. She is challenged and excited by her practice. She aims to not only expand the office to either a larger site or a second office, and also to work toward helping the children of the community, as corrected vision is essential for young people to learn and succeed in school.

She is deeply invested in her family and plans to focus heavily on spending time with her daughters. “When you find something that speaks true to character and helps them become better,” she said, “that’s what’s most important to me.”

Dr. Curtis offers two quotes that are most important in how she lives her life: the words of Billy Graham, “God has given us two hands… one to give with and one to receive with” and the words of St. Augustine, “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of man. That is what love looks like.”

She believes these quotes can teach us how to receive with humility but to always be giving back, just as she gives back to the community.


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