Midterms are finally over and I’m writing this blog exhausted but content. It may still be a long way off, but by this time next year I will be writing my last round of midterms ever. Let the countdown begin!
This January ended with what is quickly becoming my favorite NECO event: the Student Voluntary Optometric Services to Humanity (SVOSH) Casino Night. Funding from Casino Night will go towards the SVOSH NECO service trip that will provide over 2000 eye exams and dispense over 1000 pairs of glasses to underserved communities in the Dominican Republic. It was amazing taking a night off to get dressed up, play some card games and, of course, help raise money for a good cause. The most exciting part, in my opinion, was that winning mattered. Casino funny money could be exchanged for some awesome prizes provided by some very generous sponsors. Lady luck was with me that night and won a Bruins’ jersey (to the dismay of my Leafs-mad Canadian relatives). Looks like I’m an official Boston sports fan now!
Casino Night really made me appreciate how great the NECO community is. While very dedicated to learning and becoming the best optometrists they can be, NECO students are always willing to support the school and its many charity groups.
School has definitely fallen into a sort of rhythm and we are no longer learning brand new material in each new class. Everything we learn builds on prior learned knowledge, which is helping to solidify and deepen our understanding of the material. The downside is that it adds an element of surprise to test taking. It’s totally fair game to throw in a question about a concept that we haven’t thought much about since first year. This cumulative aspect of school is certainly necessary, but it makes for challenging times. All of the material we are learning must be retained for future classes, board exams, and of course, for our future lives as optometrists.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I am currently working towards my MS degree as well as being a part of the OD program. With the OD program feeling like it’s nearing the end, my Master’s project is really just beginning. My project, looking at age related macular degeneration and color vision, is in its final stages of preparation and I’m ready to test subjects. It’s very exciting to know that after all the hours spent getting ethics approval and setting up the experiment it’s finally time to start collecting data.
I’ve really been enjoying the Master’s program so far. One of the interesting aspects of the program is that due to the volume of extra research-based classes we must take, Master’s students are not required to take upper year electives. That way we have more time to dedicate in third year to the completion of the project as well as preparation of a thesis defense. During each semester of the program, we must take a seminar-based class which involves discussing recent advances in vision research. As well as helping us obtain broader research knowledge, each master’s student must present a research paper to the seminar class twice a semester. Although daunting, this is a very useful skill to learn, especially since we may someday need to present our own research at vision conferences. I’m really hoping finish data collection this summer so I can attend the Academy conference in Anaheim this November.
With midterms over and the recent promise of spring, it feels like we are entering the home stretch of our second school year. Even though there are still many events and assignments to prepare for, something tells me that second year will be over in a blink of an eye.
Maria and her fellow students enjoy Alcon Casino Night.
Maria is a Canadian student in her final year of the four year OD/MS dual degree program. For her MS project, she is working with Dr. Vera-Diaz and Dr. Panorgias examining color vision and early age-related macular degeneration.