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Well Hello Everyone!

This is my first ever post on the SCO Student Life Blog and I am very excited to share my thoughts! So, let’s get right to it!

My name is Will Stringer and I am now a second year student at SCO. I grew up in Daphne, Alabama in the Gulf Coast area of south Alabama. Not familiar with the town? You’ve probably passed through it dozens of times on your way to the beaches of Alabama and Florida. It is a wonderful place to live and I can’t wait to move back to the area after graduating from SCO!

I spent my undergraduate years at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS. I ended up there after joining the football team as an invited walk-on. After a short time, I decided that I was ready to spend my college years strictly as a student. I graduated from Southern Miss with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Biology. Most of my exercise science classmates went on to Physical Therapy school or some sort of athletic training. I was the only student from my program to go into optometry. However, after a year of optometry school, you would be surprised to know the amount of times my experiences in exercise science were directly applicable to my optometry curriculum.

I am married to my beautiful wife, Stephanie, from Mobile, Alabama . We have been together since the summer before our senior year of high school in 2007! Just this last month, we were fortunate enough to celebrate our first wedding anniversary together. In even bigger news, we were able to really blow the unsuspecting minds of our friends and family when we told them WE ARE EXPECTING!! Our first child is due to arrive November 5th and we could not be any happier! Just in this past year, I have become a husband, an optometry student, and now a soon-to-be father. What an unbelievable year it has been!

Just to wrap things up, I want to talk a little bit about my first year in optometry school at SCO. First year was unlike any year of school I’ve ever experienced. The amount of information we learned as a class is mind boggling. But I also learned a great deal about myself and my willingness to succeed. I have made so many new friendships that I am sure will last a lifetime. My time at SCO thus far has fully reassured me that I made the right choice in coming to SCO.

So, that is just a quick introduction about myself! I am looking forward to giving you more inside looks at what life is like for an optometry student at SCO. Until next time, take care y’all!
Posted by Erin Jaffe at 6/12/15 | 0 comments

A short but VERY sweet break!

Hi, readers! A LOT has happened since my post from last month. First, after a difficult week of final exams the Class of 2017 became THIRD YEARS! Starting tomorrow we will be in the clinic regularly – finally doing what we’ve been looking forward to since the beginning: seeing patients! Third year will be exciting and busy and definitely a little different from first and second year which both have a heavy emphasis on academics.

Between second and third year we got a two-week long break. The first Monday of the break is when we had our Clinic Orientation and had the opportunity to hear from different doctors and staff in The Eye Center as well as meet the 2 staff doctors we’ll be working with during the summer semester in Adult Primary Care. This was really exciting to me because these staff doctors will be the first to shape how we will practice ourselves. It will be very interesting working with different doctors who have different approaches to performing an eye exam and different opinions. My suite (which includes myself and three of my classmates) was assigned Dr. Borgman in the mornings and Dr. Sparks in the afternoons – two great doctors who gave a wonderful first impression during Clinic Orientation. My first day in APC is this coming Thursday and I can’t wait! My lab group has our Optical assignments on Tuesdays and our other rotations (including Technology, Teen Clinic, and Nursing Home assignments) on Wednesdays.

After Clinic Orientation, my break got even more exciting! Ben and I headed home (to The Woodlands, Texas – a suburb of Houston) on Wednesday to visit our families and spend a little time relaxing before beginning our third year. Little did I know, there was a lot more to this trip home than I thought! On Monday, May 11th Ben took me to a spot on the Waterway in our home town – the first place he ever said “I love you” to me many years ago – and asked me to marry him!!! Of course I said yes, and after dinner he took me to his parents’ house to “tell his parents about our engagement.” When we got there, our families were all there and they had planned a surprise engagement party for us! It was a night full of excitement, love, and happiness. Ben is my best friend and the love of my life and I can’t wait for him to be my husband!

Since we only had a few more days at home before we had to head back to Memphis, we tried to do some speedy planning before the craziness of third year sets in this week. We already set a date, made a tentative invite list, and narrowed it down to 2 venues! This past week has been one of the best weeks of my life and I can’t wait to celebrate with our friends and classmates now that we are back in Memphis.

Next time I write I’ll have some stories from my first weeks in clinic! Until then, enjoy some pictures from the proposal and engagement party. :-)

Posted by Erin Jaffe at 5/18/15 | 0 comments

Meet the Friendly Faces of SCO

Hey everyone out there! I'm sorry it's taken me a while to write a new post! If you remember from my last blog, I was getting ready to take a little (ok, really big) test called the national boards…. and I survived! Actually I haven't even gotten my scores back so I can't celebrate too much just yet, but I sure have been enjoying some extra free time not worrying about that!

I thought life was going to slow down after boards, but I realize now I was wrong. I am not having to do nearly as much studying lately, but I have still been putting lots of energy into my clinical training and to be honest, my social calendar has kept me busy as well! There are so many great things to do in Memphis during the spring, and I've been trying to hang out with my classmates as much as I can before we split ways for externships. I am now less than two weeks away from away from being a 4th year going on externs, and I actually filled out my paperwork for my cap and gown today! Wow. I really can't believe I am at this point. I will be staying close to Memphis for all of my externships, but I won't actually be doing the one at SCO until the fall. Some of my best friends are moving off to do theirs, and I will be doing my summer rotation at a place called The Church Health Center. There is so much to be excited about, like working with new people in a different place, but this is also a little bittersweet because I won't be surrounded by my SCO family on a daily basis for a while.

If you have read any of my blogs at all, you can probably tell I am a quite the sentimental person, especially when it comes to the wonderful people in my life, including my SCO family. Since I know some of you may not have ever visited SCO, I wanted to use this opportunity to introduce you to some of my favorite people that encourage me every single day. Don't worry, of course I have pictures so you can put a face to the name.

First of all, let me introduce you to what we call "The Power Team." This is the name we came up with for our suite this semester in clinic. Yeah, it may be kind of cheesy, but we don't care! We like to think we have had the most fun while still learning the most throughout this semester. I have no doubt this is true! We worked so well together, and I looked forward to clinic with these people each week.

The Power Team from left to right: Katie Richardson, Preslee Trammell, Dr. Robert Binkley, Lauren Wood, James Hoover, Dr. Christopher Borgman

First up we have Dr. Borgman… I am lucky enough have had him as a staff doctor for the past TWO semesters. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but trust me, it's a BIG deal. He is one of the most intelligent doctors I've ever worked with, while also being one of the best teachers. He is very passionate about teaching his students, and also about taking the best care he can with his patients. I can honestly say I left every week being a better student doctor because of something new he taught me. He challenged us to think about clinic in a different way, and even when we had slow days with only a few patients, he would pull up cases to show us to walk through with him. Thanks for challenging us and teaching us something new every single day!

Next up is Dr. Binkley… If you saw how great of a staff doctor he is, you probably wouldn't believe that this has only been his first full semester teaching at SCO. It's pretty amazing how much he's been able to teach all of us even in his short time teaching at SCO. He finished up his residency at the Memphis VA just last year, and it's pretty impressive how much experience he has already. He reminds me that wisdom knows no age. He also challenges us on a daily basis to become the best and most efficient doctors we can be. He likes to put us on the spot most of the time by asking us a lot of tough questions, but none of us really mind because we know he's only looking out for us. He even showed up with a pop quiz for clinic one time. Again, we didn't mind, because it was only to help us. He even has showed up early on his free time to work with us on clinical techniques we wanted extra help on. Also, I'm not sure where I'd be without all his crazy examples and comparisons when I am confused about something. Thanks for everything Dr. Binkley!

The last guy of the group is James….what can I say? He is one of the nicest, hard-working guys you will ever meet. He's never afraid to lend a helping hand in clinic or outside of clinic. It takes a special guy to be in a suite with three girls, but he was the perfect fit! He is always watching out for us girls, and even bought us each a cookie on Valentine's Day just because he is a gentleman. James, thanks for your friendship and your constant positive attitude…oh, and putting up with three tough girls this semester!

Katie is up next….She and I are not only suitemates, but we are also classmates, friends, roommates, and true Mississippi girls. I can't even begin to tell you how much Katie has helped me throughout all three years at SCO. In the past, she has always kept me organized to know when assignments were due or make sure I made it to class on time, but I really have enjoyed being in the same clinic suite this semester. It has been really fun! Like James, she is always willing to lend a helping hand to help out the team. Katie, your hard work is inspirational, and I'm so thankful for your friendship!

The last of The Power Team, but certainly not the least, is Lauren… she is one smart cookie! Also she is one of the nicest, sweetest souls I have ever met. I am so glad I got to know her better through clinic in a previous semester, and I'm so thankful she has become one of my best friends over this past year. She is such a hard worker, and I admire her independence and her easy going spirit. She can always go with the flow which is important in a clinic like The Eye Center. She has such a wonderful way with patients and I feel like I'm learning from her all the time! Thanks Lauren for keeping us grounded this semester and being such a sweet friend!

The next person I'd like to introduce you to is Sunnie Ewing. She is SCO's Director of Recruitment and part of the wonderful Student Services Department. If you are a prospective student and you haven't met her already, I'm sure you will eventually! She works so hard traveling all around the country to spread the word about all the great things going on here at SCO. She works mostly with prospective students, but let me just tell you that she also does so much for the current students as well! We appreciate everything you do for us, Sunnie!

Sunnie Ewing, Director of Recruiting, getting her annual eye exam by yours truly!

The next people I want to introduce you to are EXTREMELY important to SCO! The reason for that is because these are the people in charge of keeping all of us fed! And they don't just keep us fed, they keep us fed with some of the most delicious food around. Melissa is a caterer, but we're lucky enough to have her and her crew take care of us every day at Blink Cafe right in the tower of the school. I hope you get the chance to try her food sometime. 

One of my friends says that is one of his top 10 favorite food spots in Memphis, and I'd definitely have to agree. They serve hot breakfast, salads, sandwiches, as well as a different special every day that usually includes a meat/pasta, vegetable, side salad, and bread. Some of my favorites items include her chicken quesadillas, cheesy potatoes, corn bread, red beans and rice, and broccoli and cheese soup. Ok, thats quite a few items, but I haven't even gotten to dessert yet! Luscious banana cake, strawberry cake, death by chocolate, bread pudding, brownies…Do I need to say more? I think you get the idea of how fabulous it is, but I also want to mention that is actually quite affordable for us. We wouldn't be able to enjoy it as much as we do if it wasn't!

Melissa, Glaze, and Rebecca are not only serving up some great food, but they are also serving up smiles and encouragement on a daily basis to everyone at SCO. To a student who may be worn out from studying for a big test the night before grabbing breakfast before the big test, or someone grabbing a quick bite for lunch between a busy patient schedule in clinic, some good food and encouragement goes a long way. They give everyone a free "birthday brownie" on their birthday, and during finals, Melissa puts out free snacks for people to come grab as brain food while studying. 

Rebecca is usually there to greet you with a smile as you place your order. She knows you by name and normally knows what you want to eat before you even have to say it! We are all lucky to have become friends with this sweet soul, even outside of school. You can usually find Glaze (who is Melissa's son) behind the counter in his Memphis Grizzlies jersey preparing your food on the grill or getting your special ready for you. He also usually knows everyone's name and order, as well as what sports he can talk to you about, whether it be professional or college. He and Rebecca have become such good friends with everyone, it feels like they are students in our class! Melissa is usually running around taking care of whatever else needs taking care of, catering different events at the school like board meetings and interviews. I don't know when she sleeps because it seems like she is at the school at all time to feed us! She is like a second mother away from home who is there to provide encouragement through smiles, hugs, and some good homemade comfort food. 

I don't think they realize how lucky everyone feels to have them at SCO, but we certainly are thankful from the bottom of our hearts (and stomachs) for the delicious food you provide and the love and encouragement that means the world to us on a daily basis.

From left to right: Melissa, Rebecca, myself, and Glaze

Last, but certainly not least I want to introduce you to Ron. Ron has become one of my favorite people here at SCO and I'm lucky to call him a dear friend. Ron works for the physical plant, which means he works extremely hard to set up tables and chairs, etc, for all the events that go on at SCO. I was talking to one of the staff doctors about how this is one of the most important jobs at SCO, even if Ron may not know it. With all of the different meetings and events happening on a daily basis at SCO, none of them would be possible if it weren't for Ron making sure everyone has what they need. I know it's pretty cheesy to say, but the only thing bigger than Ron's arm muscles is his heart and his smile. 

If you ever see Ron walking around the school, you will never see him without a big smile on his face. At this point, I don't even think he knows what a frown is. Anytime you pass him in the halls, he'll always have the biggest grin on his face and ask you how you are doing, even if you don't know him. If you ask him how he is, I'd be willing to bet he responds with something about how blessed he is. What he may not realize is actually how blessed we are at SCO to have someone like him working to take care of us like he does. He may not have been a teacher or a staff doctor to me, but I have learned so much from this man about life and work ethic. The time and positive energy he puts towards his work is inspirational, and I hope I can carry that through in my job as an optometrist. Ron, thank you for all your hard work, your friendship, and the positive energy you bring to work every single day!

My good friend Ron!

All of these people have become such a huge part of my life and I am so thankful for each and every one of them. There are many more faces out there that I'd love to introduce you to, but there's just too many to name! If you haven't had the chance to visit SCO, I really hope you get a chance to come see for yourself and you may just recognize a few of the friendly faces wandering around!

Posted by Erin Jaffe at 4/28/15 | 0 comments

Second year is coming to a close!

Hi, readers! My class is getting close to the end of a very busy year and I wanted to check in and update y’all before we start the home stretch! Last week was our second midterm week of the semester and this week was the start of our most important practical yet: our pre-clinical checkouts. Pre-clinical checkouts are essentially a “super-practical” – we perform a full (one hour long) eye exam on a classmate, and if we score above an 80% on every section of the exam we are cleared to start seeing our own patients in the summer term. These checkouts take place in The Eye Center (our first time performing these procedures in the clinic) and they go on for all of this week and all of next week. Mine is scheduled for Friday morning at 7:30. I’m feeling a little nervous but prepared, and I’m excited that I’ll be able to get it done during the first week and can relax and enjoy my Easter weekend a little bit more! I can’t wait until next month when we get to start applying all of these skills in the clinic and seeing REAL patients on a regular basis!

Besides studying for last week’s midterms and practicing for checkouts, there have been some fun events going on at SCO! Last Friday and Saturday was the Housing Fair for the Class of 2019. As a Student Ambassador, I had the opportunity to interact with a lot of the incoming students and their families as they met some of their classmates and explored Memphis a little bit. It was a lot of fun and it made me even more excited about welcoming a new class to the SCO family soon! I can hardly believe that we will be third years next month and there will already be an entering class that is two years below us here. Time flies when you’re having fun (and when you’re super busy!).

Another recent event for the second year class is that we were able to choose a seminar (kind of like an elective course) that we will be taking in the fall. This was exciting because it was the first time we were able to choose a class/seminar to take so it gave us the opportunity to think about what areas of optometry interest is the most and which professors we may want to learn a little more from. The options we were given were all great and it was hard to choose just one. The seminars that were offered included specialty contact lens fits, ortho-keratology and myopia control, pediatrics and VT, medical optometry, anterior segment disease, VT in acquired brain injury patients, practice management, and behavioral optometry/VT in brain injuries, sports vision, and autism. We were all able to rank our top three choices through an online survey, and luckily we were all matched with our first choice! I chose the ortho-keratology seminar with Dr. Jackson and I am looking forward to working with him in the fall!

Well, I’m off to practice one last time for my checkouts. Wish me luck! Next time I post, I’ll be a third year and I’ll be able to tell y’all all about my early clinic adventures. Exciting times are ahead! Happy Easter, everyone!
Posted by Erin Jaffe at 4/1/15 | 0 comments


Hello blogosphere!

We’re less than 50 days away from graduation (but who’s counting right!?) and I have some exciting news to share. I’m proud to announce I matched with my top-ranked residency choice of Bond-Wroten Eye Clinic! Starting this fall, I will begin my one-year family practice residency serving the good people of Louisiana. Talk about being a jet setter! This is my final stop along my optometric journey before I return to Kentucky to join a private practice with specialties in therapeutic contact lenses and dry eye disease. I am grateful to all my family, friends, and mentors who have been supporting me on this adventure called optometry school…Dr. Puerto is in sight!

How about D.C.? My final externship rotation continues to offer me a variety of challenging patient encounters at Walter Reed Military Medical Hospital. Serving a hospital population, I weekly ‘scrub-up’ to observe a variety of ophthalmology surgeries from retina to oculoplastics. Similarly, I enjoy working with externs from at least 5 other optometry schools—it’s interesting to compare the similarities and differences of our optometry school experience. Moreover, I’ve made some extraordinary life-long new friends out of these fellow externs, and I’m so happy to share these last few months of optometry school with them. Living in the nation’s capital has been an amazing time, and I’ve had some unexpected blessings pop up along the way. Now that the third years have completed NBEO Part 1, I look forward to a few of my underclassmen buddies making the trek to D.C. for a quick visit next month to see me. I miss my SCO crew!

So what’s my life like now that I have less than two months until graduation? Oh, busy sending out graduation announcements, tying up leadership loose ends and preparing for club transitions, and (most thrillingly) finalizing my Pacific Coast Road Trip to Optometry’s Meeting 2015 in Seattle for this June…no big deal ;)

It’s a good time to be a 4th year; graduation is just beyond the horizon!

Carpe Diem,

Posted by Amy Dunbar at 3/24/15 | 0 comments