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Gratitude For My NECO Family

Hannah holding up marathon medal

NECO feels like home to me because of the community of people that brings light and life into my busy schedule as an optometry student. I love walking into school every day, knowing that I’ll run into a classmate who wants to share an interesting case from clinic with me, or a first- year student who needs advice on studying for finals, or a friend who needs to vent to about the amount of school work that piles up at the end of the semester. If I ever need anyone to practice with in pre-clinic, I can quickly go to the cafeteria or library to look for classmates or upper years who are willing to sit as my patient. Whatever the occasion, I know that I can count on the NECO family for good company, conversation, and support.

My class has a Facebook group so that we can keep each other on track with school work as well. My classmates frequently post reminders about online quiz due dates, reminders about exam review sessions, and often post guides or flashcards that they have found helpful to help us study. This is just another example of how we, as NECO students, want to help each other succeed because we will all be working together as colleagues one day. Because our class isn’t competitive, the friendly atmosphere at school takes the pressure off of “being at the top” and allows us to go at our own pace. It has helped me concentrate on the learning process instead and get the most out of my education.

Group of students holding congratulations sign for runnersThis sense of camaraderie extends beyond the walls of our school! Two weeks ago, some of my classmates and I ran a half marathon together. Although this semester has been the most challenging semester at NECO in terms of the work load, I wanted to make sure that I set a goal for myself outside of school. It turned out that I wasn’t alone in this sentiment! 6 other OD2’s and I braved the cold and rainy weather to run 13.1 miles through Cambridge. It was a beautiful route along the Charles River and it felt great to be able to accomplish something as a team. Running in non-ideal weather conditions was all made worth it when we found each other at the finish line. Some of our classmates even came to cheer us on with a poster! While we have celebrated academic successes, like finishing our first set of midterms at NECO and passing our clinical proficiency exams, together,  it felt great to share joy in a success outside of school as well. I hope that this becomes a tradition that we can get more NECO students involved with in the future!

Group of five NECO students holding marathon medalsWith only 4 weeks left of the semester, I’m excited for my classmates and I to tackle another set of final exams together. Although I know that there are some long days and sleepless nights ahead of me, knowing that my classmates will be with me every step of the way alleviates much of the stress. Accomplishing both academic and non-academic goals with my classmates always reminds me of how lucky I am to attend a school like NECO, where forming lifelong friendships is a natural and valuable component of  our optometric education. 

Hannah is a second year Korean American 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!