Mark lives in Santa Barbara, California with his wife of 20 years, Sarice, and their three children: Zoe (20), who is majoring in Jewish Studies at Tulane, Noah (18), who will be starting Yale in the fall, and Caleb (16), who is boarding at Midland school in Los Olivos, California. Mark practices ophthalmology at Sansum Clinic, where he currently serves as chair of his department. He also volunteers for SEE (Surgical Eye Expeditions), for which he provides free pediatric eye exams and performs surgeries internationally. As an exciting side adventure, he also became an inventor and developed the first FDA-approved eye drop (Upneeq) to treat droopy lids. Upneeq has been featured in Vogue, Elle, and numerous other magazines. When he’s not operating on eyeballs or tinkering with chemicals, he loves to hike, swim, run, and surf.
Here, Mark discusses his time at Yale, his rude awakening to Connecticut winters, and his involvement with the Yale community as an alumni volunteer.
I grew up in Encino, and the thought of going to an East Coast school, let alone Yale, seemed other-worldly. Going to Yale was like traveling to the moon. It was an abstract fantasy, but I applied early and somehow got accepted – it was a dream come true.
What is your most enduring memory of your time at Yale?
I remember waking up in my Old Campus dorm freshman year, looking outside, and seeing a clear sunny sky. This clueless California boy threw on his shorts, T-shirt, and flip-flops, and headed out the door toward Science Hill. Little did I realize that it was December, and it was 14 degrees outside, with wind-chill too. My wet hair had icicles. I was late for class, so I just ran for it. It took me nearly the whole class duration to thaw. Then I had to walk back...
If you could relive your time at Yale, what would you do differently?
True confession: I never ate at Sally’s or Pepe’s. Now that I have a son attending, I plan to rectify that.
What would you do exactly the same?
I'm glad I majored in a liberal art (philosophy). Learning how to write well, think critically, and analyze text are valuable skills I still treasure.
What is your favorite place in New Haven, past or present?
This may sound odd, but the emergency room at St. Raphael’s was one of the places I cherished. I volunteered there as a student and it's where I confirmed my passion to become a physician.