Projects, Presentations, and Marathons…Spring at NECO!

I’m three weeks away from final exams and it’s been a crazy semester so far. I recently finished three different projects, one of which I will be presenting tomorrow along with all of the other first years at NECO’s Public Health Poster Presentation Day, and I’ve also been able to cross off a few more items on my Boston Bucket List. Even though so much has happened, it’s hard to believe that I’m almost finished with my first year at NECO.

The first project we started at NECO was for our Clinical Reasoning course. We were divided into groups and assigned real patients who we were able to meet and talk to about their various eye conditions; we continued to keep in contact with them throughout the semester and gave presentations to our classes in small group sections. Our patients all had different eye conditions that we researched and learned about in greater depth; my group’s patient has age-related macular degeneration, and I think that researching the disease on our own led me to a greater understanding of the disease process on a cellular level as well as its more manifest effects. More than researching our patients’ eye conditions, however, we also learned how to comprehend our patients as a whole, integrating their eyes with their emotions, support systems, needs, and interpretations.

I finished my second project right after spring break: a research paper about the demographics and eye care needs of my hometown of Buffalo, New York, and the surrounding county of Erie. I haven’t been able to do much writing this year other than this blog, and as a former writing major, I’ve been in a bit of withdrawal. This paper gave me a chance to do some professional writing as well as learn more about the area where I grew up. I found in my research that Buffalo and Erie County have more eye care resources than I previously realized, but there still seems to be a demand for future practitioners. For my third project of the semester, tomorrow my group and I will be presenting a poster we created after researching our public health topic: the ocular complications of HIV/AIDS.

In addition to these three projects, I’ve been trying to get the most I can out of living in Boston this semester. I was able to go to both a Celtics game and a Bruins game (although, being from Buffalo, I did root for the Sabres…quietly), and I’m planning on seeing a Red Sox game this summer. Last weekend was the Boston Marathon and I went to Commonwealth Ave. to check it out, intending on making it a quick study break, but I ended up staying for a few hours to watch the runners. I found it by far the most inspirational event I’ve been to in Boston because it was the one where the crowd was so solidly united. Every runner that passed by got loud and enthusiastic cheering, and since I was watching only a few blocks from the finish line, the cheers were especially loud and frantic. If a runner looked like he or she was limping or faltering, the crowd would rally in support until he or she broke back into stride. I was impressed by both the devotion of the marathoners and the dedication of the crowd, and it made me think about the importance of not only self-motivation, but a solid support system, in accomplishing a goal that seems insurmountable.