Tag: students

Be Inspired and Be Humbled, Always.

by on Jan.09, 2015, under Uncategorized

Before I got into optometry school, I felt like time passed by me slowly. It wasn’t until I was sitting in my black robe and a gold tassel hanging on my head that I realized how fast undergraduate had flown by. However, with every semester that passes at NECO, I feel the sands of time slipping through my hands. Part of me is so relieved after every final to be able to breathe again, but another part of me is just dumbfounded by how fast the semester goes! I’m not sure where I’ll end up after graduation, but one thing’s certain: I really want to enjoy my time in Boston and NECO! Whenever I reflect on what has happened through a semester, only bits and pieces pop through and it makes me nostalgic for all the moments I wasn’t able to truly savor. So for this wrap up of 2014, I hope to share a few small tidbits that have lingered with me this semester.

We had a great guest speaker event given by Mr. Tom Sullivan at the end of October. He is an inspirational speaker in every sense of the word. Having been blind since infancy due to Retinopathy of Prematurity and a former student at Boston’s Perkins School for the Blind, Mr. Sullivan spoke of the trials and tribulations of growing up. He was bullied and making friends was difficult…until someone gave him a chance. A story of how a next door neighbor who saw past his disability and changed his life with the simply gesture of asking to play baseball showed how easy it was to make an impact on a person and the two remain best friends today. It reminded me of how important it was to focus on those close to you, especially through stress and hardship (like studying for 6 midterms/finals in one week, eek!). Through those times, I am grateful for technological advances, such as Skype and G-chat, as I have definitely counted on my family and friends back home for support. But as part of the “Y-generation” many of us are under constant social media and solitary influence that sometimes it is easy to lose sight of the importance of actual inter-personal relationships. Not only is this a crucial skill as future doctors, I believe it’s an important aspect of staying grounded. Through this semester, there have been numerous times that patients have come into clinic for their eye exam, but have ended up sharing so much more of their life. Part of being a future doctor is realizing the trust patients give and the vulnerability they present by allowing us a glimpse into their lives. I already miss my clinic site because it provided an absolute connection to patients that were often lost on me during the busy hours of studying. Listening to Mr. Sullivan speak simply reinforced the importance of maintaining empathy and a simple humanism through everything I do, both as a student and a doctor in the future.

This semester was difficult for me and I stumbled a bit in some aspects, however, I was readily picked up by both my fellow classmates and my gracious professors. The rumors that second year is difficult have rung true for me. It was a challenging semester due to the academic expectations as well as the ongoing battle to further ourselves clinically. The old me would snub at the thought of tutoring or receiving aid because of pride and over-confidence, but it’s truly been one of the best experiences of fall semester. On a graduate school level, it’s not about competing with my fellow classmates or receiving a top grade, but rather about learning and understanding material that is beneficial for the rest of our lives. We are past the stages of memorizing for a grade, only to lose it all after the exam, and we are above holding all-nighters in a grave last minute fight. I was humbled by the dedication of Dr. Hanley (one of my professors for the course: Principles and Practices of Optometry for OD2), who not only held review sessions an hour before class, but also gave her time separately in office hours to help those of us who hungered for more. Principles and Practices of Optometry is one of those classes that you want to have down cold because it’s your future bread and butter.

The amounts of diseases and weird things that can happen to the eyes have truly astounded me this semester! It had me obsessively cleaning my eyelashes as well as ferociously making signs and symptoms disease flashcards. I felt the need to be proactive about my learning this semester because I realized it’s truly to our benefit to have this knowledge, to know this material beyond a grade, and to seek help when we fumble a bit or, even when we’re completely confident, as it never hurts to check your answers. Receiving guidance from professors and upper-year students gave me more confidence in myself as well as made me feel less alone while navigating this increasingly intertwining web of new knowledge. Not to throw in a cheesy Dumbledore quote from Harry Potter to make my point, but… “You will find that help will always be given at Hogwarts (NECO) to those who ask for it.” It’s in these moments that I’m glad I go to a smaller school that is completely focused on optometry, because the attention and care I receive from my professors and classmates is truly unmatched.

As I head into this new semester, I’m looking forward to enhancing my clinical skills at my new clinic site, this time at a private practice, which will be a change! I’m hoping to sneak a few moments for just myself and the great city of Boston, where I can take it its river views and gorgeous skyline. Of course, I’ll have continued group study sessions and weekly reviews with my housemate, where we do simple tasks like looking over pictures from lecture, just to help things really stick in our brains. I know that although second year is a tough one, there are people rooting for me on both sides of the coast. I also know that should I waiver a bit, there is inspiration all around me.

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The First Year Cow Gets Her Own Patch of Grass Soon

by on May.12, 2014, under Uncategorized

Boston Marathon 2014

It is two weeks before finals and the end to my first year in optometry school. To say things flew by would be a dramatic understatement! Even now, writing this entry is the only time I’ve really had to just sit down and think about this past year and all that’s happened. While some people like to reflect on how much they’ve grown or matured, I’d like to save that for graduation day…and hopefully by then I will have legitimately grown wiser, matured, and maybe even magically gotten taller! For the wrapping up of my first year, I’d like to first share two experiences I’ve had at school with inspiring professors here at the college.

If you have never had a chance to visit NECO or you will be entering next year for the class of 2018, I am sorry to say that you will not have the pleasure of being taught by Dr. Nancy Carlson. She has popped into my previous entries as the person who provided an awesome zen-meditating video for me to distress, but aside from that, she has just been a great mentor. She is the author of CPOE, which many are familiar with (and if you are entering school, then you will know CPOE soon enough!), but she also has a wealth of knowledge regarding all aspects of life. I was the student aid to the Primary Care department this year and got to know Dr. Carlson a little bit better outside of sitting in lectures alone. I have talked about boys with her, traveling, television shows (she and her husband are watching Breaking Bad currently!), and even about her fat orange tabby cat, Kevin. Other students have told me Dr. Carlson has taught them how to open champagne bottles…I mean the list just goes on. Her health has been tested and her loved ones have been tried and through it all she has come out resilient and a sassy winner!

The point of it all is that she will be terribly missed next year and I wanted to pen it in my entry that she has made an impact on my personal and professional life. It’s an especial privilege when professors take note of students’ welfare and I find that NECO has so many of these teachers. Dr. Carlson has been with NECO through thick and thin for quite some time, and I’m just glad I was able to squeeze in there just in time! Of course, there is a certain level of professionalism and respect that must be adhered to, but to have a personal connection with someone already in the field you are interested in is an amazing networking connection. So whether you are studying or working or doing something entirely different from what you’d like to, just keep an eye out for greatness around you, they come in all forms! Here’s a picture of Dr. Carlson and a few of us first years at Eye Ball just last weekend, everyone looked so snazzy!


NECO Eye Ball 2014

NECO Eye Ball 2014

The second professor that I feel has made an impact is Mr. Blair Wong, who is an assistant professor here at the college and is one of the optics professors for first year students. He runs the laboratory portion part of the second semester and also gives lectures. What is truly inspiring is that he also has retinitis pigmentosa, a genetically linked visual impairment rendering him legally blind with only a small portion of his central vision left. It would be like if you rolled your hands into a fist, then looked out of your “hand binoculars” for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And that small circle of view will only get smaller as time goes on. However, anyone who has encountered Mr. Wong in class or in the hallway, or even on the street knows that he is one of the most optimistic person. During our class in Principle and Practices of Optometry (PPO for short), Mr. Wong was brought in as a guest speaker to talk to us about what it’s like from a patient’s prospective and it was extremely eye opening. Many times students in a medical profession get lost easily in the academics of it all. We’re so overwhelmed by the hard-science and trying to breathe through our text books and caffeine high that we forget where we’re heading and why we’re in school in the first place. Listening to Mr. Wong’s experiences really reaffirmed why I’m in optometry school currently and that’s to help others. It is possible to be a great doctor even in the event that an actual cure is impossible. To see the optimism and light hearted flare in how he carries his life, I simply wanted to remind all students (and life learners in general!) to take a step back once in a while and reconnect with your goals and witness the courage and inspiration around all of us. I think that’s what will take us through these next 3 years.

Marathon Monday

To further prove my point, I wanted to throw in a tidbit about my 118th Boston Marathon Monday experience! Now I’m what I like to self-refer to as “athletically inactive.” As in I could get off this library chair and go run a few miles or rage through a cycling class at the YMCA (which is free for students, by the way!) and feel not like death, but most days I get a bit lazy about the whole thing. I’ve run 2 half marathons before and both have been excellent motivators for getting into a daily routine and the energy that you get by being around others is pretty enthralling stuff. Nothing is more motivating than signing up for something and having to give someone money! But what I witnessed during the 118th Boston Marathon this year was simply unreal. It was the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup and whatever other great sports events all rolled into one, with one great exception: these were EVERYDAY PEOPLE. Looking at the qualifying statistics to for the Boston Marathon is simply mind blowing. For my age group, 18-35 years old, the qualifying time for 26.2 miles is just about at 3 hours. To give you a comparison, my 13.1 mile run was at 2hours and 15 minutes, so in 45 more minutes, these athletes run a whole other 13.1 miles. That’s crazy!

I love that Boston almost shuts down entirely that weekend to simply support its city and the people in it. Very few people have work on Marathon Monday and even NECO was closed. The streets were filled with people cheering, BBQing, making signs, and having a general blast! This year seemed to be just a bit more special due to the suffering of the bombing last year and Boston took full advantage to appreciate its comeback. People ran for their families, for Boston, for their own pride and it was completely exhilarating! I’m motivated now to try and make a more consciously healthy life style by running along the Esplanade by the Charles River and enjoying the sunshine while it lasts! For the end of my first year, I just want to reflect on all the inspiration that I’ve been privileged enough to have witnessed. There are so many other stories and daily snippets that I would like to share, but these 3 stick out the most. I’ve throw in a few pictures just so you can share in the fun, even though I know you all have made your own fun memories for the year already. Stay lucid through finals, guys :)

Smiling Angela


P.S. My title is to come full circle from my entry on feeling like a cow among a herd in the beginning and slowly finding a patch of my own Boston grass a year later. Just thought it may need clarification…

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