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Beyond the Books and Brains of Grad School

Hannah outside with two friends at night by lighted sign

All grad school students would agree that their respective programs require a serious dedication of time and focus to their studies. Optometry school is absolutely no exception to this. Although I am incredibly grateful for the learning opportunities that NECO gave me during my first semester, I would be lying if I said that this gratitude for education always trumped the emotions of stress and fatigue that I experienced, especially during my first clinical skills exam and finals week. The dense workload coupled with the enormous responsibility of being a future healthcare provider is often what makes our optometric education rewarding, but also very challenging.

Luckily, NECO and the location of the school itself give me a plenty of opportunities to decompress and escape from the four-walled rooms I often find myself studying in. NECO’s hallmark feature, other than providing students with a unique clinical education accompanied by established and respected preceptors, is the emphasis placed on community- building and family.

NECO’s student organizations always host exciting events to bring all of the classes together and the big first event of 2017 was Casino Night. Sponsored by VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity), Casino Night is a fundraiser event that involves a night of Bingo, casino games, snacks, drinks, and awesome prizes. While I entered all of my raffle tickets to win Volk lenses, my friends entered to win Ray Ban Aviators, a Chipotle gift card, a Boston Harbor cruise, and more!

Even if I don’t win the Volk lenses, Casino Night will definitely be a highlight of my first year experience. I loved getting dressed up with my roommates and getting to see my classmates outside of the lecture hall. We all had so much fun and it’s great to know that the money VOSH raised that night will fund a portion of the expenses of the VOSH trip to the Dominican Republic.

Located in the heart of Boston, NECO is steps away from Newbury Street and is a 10-minute walk away from the Boston Commons. My friends and I are always in search of fun (and free) events in Boston and this month’s weekend adventures did not disappoint.

The first weekend we were back, we went ice-skating on the City Hall rink and afterwards, we walked to Quincy Market for dinner and then to the North End to get dessert at Mike’s Pastry.

This past weekend, I attended Boston’s Women’s March and it was truly inspirational to stand in solidarity with 120,000 men and women who believe in protecting the fundamental rights of all people. As a young millennial, I am so thankful to have access to Boston events that range from touristy to historically important.

Next weekend, the OD1 student council will be hosting an event at a bar to get all of the classes together once again. As you can tell, there is always something to do on the weekends if you are up for it! I am so thankful that NECO recognizes the importance of providing students with non-academic events and that Boston is such a beautiful and diverse city. It looks like 2017 is off to a great start. I hope that 2017 will be an academically productive year, balanced with forming life-long friendships with my classmates!

Hannah is a second year student who is originally from Rochester, NY. She is a 2016 graduate of Boston College, where she studied Behavioral Neuroscience and minored in Medical Humanities. Some of her most formative experiences at BC include volunteering weekly at a children’s hospital, traveling to Nicaragua on a service and cultural immersion trip, and studying the neurobiology of eating and eating disorders through an undergraduate research fellowship. Hannah's decision to pursue optometry wasn’t completely made until the summer before her senior year at BC. Despite this relatively late start, she believes that her Jesuit education at BC has cultivated a deep sense of social responsibility to serve communities as an optometrist, perhaps by participating in vision science research adapted towards treatments for rare ocular conditions or by providing basic eye exams to underprivileged communities in the US and Latin America. She is thrilled to be spending another 4 years in the historically rich city of Boston, but this time, as a graduate student and living in the heart of Boston with 2 other roommates! She cannot wait to see where the next four years at NECO will lead her, as well as her classmates in the class of 2020!