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End of OD1 Reflections

Hannah and two students standing around patient seated in chair I had the best Clinical Reasoning group and a wonderful patient!

My classmates and I are just two weeks and 5 final exams away from completing our first year of optometry school! The last couple weeks of OD1 have kept us very busy. We’ve been going on our last vision screenings of the semester, taking our second clinical skills exams, and completing group projects!

One of the group projects was for Clinical Reasoning, a course that assigns groups of students with a real patient from the community of Boston. Since October, my group has been developing a relationship with our patient and learning about her history of cataracts through monthly phone calls. My favorite part about the experience was getting to practice the challenging skill of communicating clearly, professionally, and effectively with patients. There’s nothing quite like learning about an ocular disease directly from the patient’s experience, and I am so thankful to our patient for having been such an integral part of our optometric education this year.

Photo Booth photos of Hannah and friendsIn addition to our academic commitments, NECO had it’s 87th annual Eye Ball! It’s basically the prom of grad school, but this year’s Eye Ball blew everyone out of the water! It was held at the New England Aquarium located by the Boston Harbor, and it was a memorable night of great food and dancing. Running into my classmates and many of my professors throughout the night made me really grateful for all of the new relationships I formed during my first year at NECO! It seems like just yesterday was our first year orientation, when we were all strangers to each other. Eye Ball was a great event to celebrate a productive year of new beginnings, learning, and growing.

Although most people assume that the season of summer implies a 3 month break, my classmates and I will be resuming our coursework in the beginning of June! Although we are given a 3-week break after final exams, I will be spending those 3 weeks in lab, getting started on my summer research project funded by the NIH’s T35 research grant. Even though I won’t be getting an extended break any time soon, thinking about the data I might collect from my experiment is very exciting! I’m also very grateful to be working alongside Dr. Rucker, who has been a great mentor to me this year. Hopefully, I will have good news about my findings to share in my next blog post!

Juggling classes, labs, and research this summer will certainly prove to be a challenge! But if this year has taught me anything, it’s that perseverance and a solid work ethic will make the outcome all the more meaningful. My first year at NECO has been incredibly formative in my sense of self and in my future as a health care provider. NECO has given me home and lifelong friendships, challenged me intellectually, reminded me of my shortcomings, reignited a strong sense of social responsibility, and reaffirmed my love of human interaction. Thank you to all of my friends, family, and professors who have made the beginning stages of my journey in optometry so special. My heart (and brain!) is truly busting at its seams!

“What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.” – Father Pedro Arrupe*

*This is a quote I heard as a freshman at Boston College and it has stuck with me throughout the years. It’s a beautiful reminder of the gifts and opportunities life gives us, and how important it is to pursue them with dedication and passion!

Hannah and five friends in ballgowns

Photo captions:
1. I had the best Clinical Reasoning group and a wonderful patient!
2. Photobooth fun at the Eye Ball.
3. Getting dressed up for the Eye Ball.

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!