Meet Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford a.k.a Doctor Nate. He received his Doctorate of Optometry from Illinois College of Optometry, located in Chicago, Illinois, in 2004. He has a passion for improving vision for children.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family. I am married to Cristina, she’s our Office Manager at Bright Eyes Family Vision Care and we have two kids, Nora and Javier ages 13 & 10. We are fortunate that we live next door to her parents and we have a lot of extended family in the area and one of the things I was joking about with the patients recently is that we’ve never pay for a baby sitter because we have so much family around that we can always coordinate with.
Tell me a little bit about your career and what is it that you specialize in?
A: I got my degree in Environmental Science at the University of Florida and I thought I was going to do something like natural resource management or something along that line. My wife was in graduate school in Wisconsin for Biology at the time. At some point I kind of remembered that long before I had wanted to be an Optometrist so I started shadowing an Optometrist and ultimately I started working for one. Then I went to school, so I got my degree in Optometry and it was in Optometry school that I realized that I really love the specialty of children’s vision and developmental vision.
Q: How long have you lived and worked in North Tampa?
A: When I finished my residency in Chicago we moved down in 2005, we moved to Tampa Palms neighborhood. Even though we moved houses we have basically been in the same area since then, so it’s been 15 years now. And it’s funny when I look back when we very first moved down here before we had Bright Eyes I lived in New Tampa but I had a job in Clearwater so I had to commute for about 9 months and I’m glad I don’t have to do that anymore.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in North Tampa, and what do you love there?
A: It depends, if we’re doing like a birthday thing or celebrating something, we go to The Melting Pot. One of my favorite places to go is called Skipper’s Smokehouse not only because of the cool food but also I love live music and it’s one of the best venues for live music of all different kinds and it’s pretty close to my house.
Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in North Tampa?
A: There’s really a wide range dynamic groups of people here, some of them are entrepreneurs, some are associated with universities, with tech and bio tech field so there’s really a lot of interesting people here. About 10 years ago when Foursquare app was popular, me and a bunch of other people kinda develop this event called Foursquare Day and we were trying to get people to go out and support their community. It resonated so much that not only was it a big event in Tampa for few years but also it kinda took off around the world and thru that, several times I got to meet at that time Mayor Bob Buckhorn in a scavenger hunt and it was such a weird thing to be an Optometrist who was promoting this social media thing, which then got attention. It was such an exciting time since I met so many passionate people, very generous, so smart and hard working on so many projects.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
A: For the longest time I’ve been interested in China, in Chinese history, Chinese culture and actually during one of those Foursquare Day’s event I actually did a live interview with somebody that was in China which is like 12-hour difference and I always thought of going to China and see what it’s like. Now, of course nobody’s really travelling anywhere and certainly nobody’s going to China, plus the dynamics of going there is more complicated right now so I don’t think that I’m gonna be doing that anytime soon but I do think it is fascinating from a cultural stand point.
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: One thing I do wanna do in my life is go back to Norway and bring the kids to the place in a valley to show them where I proposed to their mom.
Q: What is your favorite band?
A: There’s a small band in Charleston, SC and they’re called Tomatoband. They’ve been around for about 10 years, they’ve got 3 albums out but they played these live shows and their songs are improvised, so songs are never quite the same every time you hear it. I’ve been to one of their concerts and I have listened to several of their concerts online and there’s something about the lyrics and how entertaining they are. Their music makes me feel better.
Q: Choosing anyone alive and a non-relative with whom would you love to have lunch? Why and where would you have lunch?
A: I think it would be fascinating to have the opportunity to have lunch with Barrack Obama and just see what his take on the state of the world is and what’s his perspective is on how much things have changed. I have so much respect for him as a man, as a father, as a thinker.
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about North Tampa?
A: WMNF. When I lived in Wisconsin, I used to volunteer at the community radio station WORT and do basic things like answer phones and help them sort music and stuff. I just like not only the fact that they play all kinds of music from Saturday morning Bluegrass to electronic music but they also served this role where they are connecting the community and they’re broadcasting about the community. So WMNF serves that role here and I like it.
Q: (Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: There’s so many things. On my 40th birthday, we had a party and lots of people came, some of my high school friends, college friends, and Optometry buddies and there was a bingo card game of obscure facts about me,there’s so many. Random things like the fact that when I was in high school, I used to work at Silver springs which is in Ocala and my job was animal educator so I would hold alligators and I would teach kids about alligators, bats, lizards.
One of the most interesting things that I tell patients and people is that when I was a kid, we actually lived in Yellowstone National Park for a summer, we lived in some of the employee housing there and literally everyday I would just walk around and I would hang out with some of the employees. I would go on hikes and we have so many stories from that time.
There was one time that my dad was riding a 10 speed and I was at the back, and we’re going really fast, we went around this curve and there’s this giant Moose right in the way. We were headed towards it we just barely leaned and turned the bike and missed it by inches.
Q: What is the most beautiful place you have ever been?
A: This is a much more recent trip, I’ve been to some pretty beautiful places like Fjords in Norway are beautiful and Yellowstone. Recently we went on a family trip last summer to Hawaii and we did the big island, we went to some volcanoes and some of the views of the water and the beaches.
Q: If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
A: I had the opportunity to meet Bill Nye because my cousin used to own a comic book convention in Miami and he spoke. Javier, my son wore a Bill Nye T-shirt that time and wanted to ask a question and Bill Nye saw his T-shirt, so I helped him up pass the crowd and Bill signed his T-shirt. We still have that shirt that was signed by Bill Nye. He is one of those guys that I grew up watching as a kid and my kids loves him.
Q: If someone played “you” in a movie, who would it be?
A: Normally I have a beard, right now I don’t have one and I despise it. My whole life people told me that I look like Martin Mull, he’s a lot older than me and I don’t know what he looks like right now, but he was the first person I think would play me.
Q: What advice would you give to people?
A: My advise to people would be just to help them understand that life is very complicated and there are lot of paradoxes in the world which doesn’t mean that one person’s right and one person is wrong, there are a lot of situations in whihc both people can be right yet they still disagree. And it doesn’t invalidate one person and it doesn’t validate another person, it just means that we have to just accept the fact that life is not simple and there’s almost never going to be a situation where everything is cut and dry.