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Boston Middle School Students Visit NECO

Student looks in the testing tube to exam the eye of a young patient.

Twenty-one middle school students recently visited New England College of Optometry, NECO, to learn more about optometry. The Dearborn STEM Academy students came to the College as part of an Optometry Career Exploration Visit.

New England College of Optometry has hosted several groups of middle and high school students from the Boston area in the past few years. This group of 6th  through 8th graders traveled to New England College of Optometry with Ms. Mina DePina, Guidance Counselor, Dearborn STEM Academy, and Ms. Andrea Dawes, Director of Programs and Partnerships, Admission Guaranteed Program and Project REACH, UMass Boston.

NECO student working with middle schoolers to teach them about how to give eye exam.
The Dearborn STEM Academy visit was funded by an ASCO mini-grant entitled Increasing Applicant Pool Diversity through Inspiration. Barbara McGinley, Associate Dean of Student Affairs, and Kristin Tobin, Director of Admissions, applied for the grant to introduce a diverse group of students to the field of optometry during the middle and high school years.

Ms. McGinley notes, “We hope learning about optometry will inspire some students to go back to their communities, many years from now, to offer eye care and offer further inspiration to a new generation of students.”

Dr. Hanley and NECO student show middle schoolers model of an eye.During the visit, Dr. Maureen Hanley taught students about the eye, eye disease, and career options in optometry.  Following her presentation, students visited the pre-clinic labs. Here, current NECO students taught them to perform eye screening techniques such as visual acuity, visual fields, pupils, and color. Students took turns acting as doctor and patient. When they served as the doctor, they were given a traditional white doctor’s coat to wear.

The morning concluded with lunch and a visit with NECO President, Clifford Scott, OD, and Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs, Robert DiMartino, OD.

Ms. McGinley noted, “During lunch, we asked the students how it felt to wear a white coat when they were in the lab. Students explained that they felt competent, able, and like a doctor, one of the goals of our program. Their answers showed that they understood the symbolism of wearing the white coat as they learned a little about what an optometrist does in practice.”  The College looks forward to hosting more such visits in the future.

NECO students showing middle schoolers how to do vision screening.

New England College of Optometry (NECO) is a small, independent graduate institution that prepares the next generation of eye care providers, educators, and innovators through a rigorous curriculum and extensive clinical experiences. Located in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, New England College of Optometry is the oldest college of optometry in the country. The College has been advancing optometric education, patient care, and public health since 1884.

Media Contact: Ingrid Hoogendoorn, Director of Communications
phone: 617-587-5722