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Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Joyce L. Urbeck have been selected as recipients of honorary degrees at SCO's commencement ceremony on May 4, 2021. Mayor Strickland is currently in his second term of office and will also deliver the commencement address. Ms. Urbeck devoted 46 years to the profession of optometry before her retirement last summer.
Jim Strickland was sworn in as mayor of Memphis for a second term on January 1, 2020. Mayor Strickland is a 1982 graduate of Christian Brothers High School, a 1986 graduate of the University of Memphis, and a 1989 graduate of the School of Law at the U of M. He practiced law at Glankler Brown PLLC from 1990 to 1998, when he began practicing at Kustoff & Strickland PLLC, where he remained until becoming mayor. Mayor Strickland was elected to the Memphis City Council in 2007, and served as its chairman in 2014. In eight years representing District 5, then-councilman Strickland became known for fighting for government transparency and public safety. Community service has long been a part of Mayor Strickland’s life. He has served with various organizations, such as the St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen, where he continues to volunteer. He is a gold life member of the NAACP.
Joyce L. Urbeck devoted her 46-year career to the profession of optometry. A 1974 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, she began her association with optometry in 1974 as Placement Service Coordinator and Quarterly Editor for the American Optometric Association. In 1978, she was named Associate Director of the AOA’s Education and Manpower Division, where she directed the AOA’s Student Recruitment program to improve the quality of optometry school applicants. She was later named Manager of the AOA’s Low Vision Section. In 1986, Ms. Urbeck was named Director of the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education, a critically important role for assuring an effective accreditation process in optometric education. After nearly 35 years of leading the ACOE, she retired in August 2020.
SCO’s chapter of the Gold Key Society has announced the new Gold Key International Optometric Honor Society members for the Class of 2022! Membership in Gold Key is limited to 10% of each class. The mission of this organization is to recognize upperclassmen who demonstrate outstanding professional and ethical attitude through leadership and service to their class, college, and profession. The following students have worked hard during their time at SCO and have fulfilled this mission. Congratulations to the following students:
President: Suzanne Falkowski
Vice President: Gabby Magee
Secretary: Tessa Lau
Treasurer: Kelly Nguyen
Congratulations to Ahmed Siddiqui, '24, on being named SCO's new AOSA Trustee-Elect. He joins AOSA Trustee Nicole Wohlford, '23, in representing SCO on a national level AOSA Board.
Congratulations are also in order for the newest members of the SCO Board from the Class of 2024, including Zach Groves, Nithya Vemula, Jessica Rischling, and Katie Doan!
SCO's American Academy of Optometry student chapter has announced that the following students have been named new student fellows. Congratulations to these members from all four years of our program on this outstanding accomplishment:
Janice Frazier-Scott, MA, is SCO’s Human Resources Generalist/Title IX Coordinator. In this guest column, she addresses some of the historical mistrust in the African-American community regarding vaccines and healthcare disparities and shares her thought about how she decided the COVID-19 vaccine was right for her.
As an African American, I know that there is lots of conversation, consternation, and reluctance to get inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine. I know why we have that reluctance. We know about the Tuskegee “experiment” that was conducted by the Federal Government which resulted in the infection and non-treatment of black men with syphilis back in 1932 that was finally completed in 1972. Patients in the study were never told what was going on or what they were being treated for. They were told they had “bad blood” which could mean almost anything—anemia, fatigue, etc. And some of us are also aware of Henrietta Lacks, the black woman who unknowingly donated her cells to Johns Hopkins Hospital for medical research while she was being treated for cervical cancer.
Historically, black and brown people have experienced a disparity in the type of medical care that they’ve received—they don’t know whether to trust what their doctor is telling them. In some instances, their medical concerns are brushed off or discounted as unimportant or imaginary, so I get why our communities have a concern about the new COVID-19 vaccine.
While I’ve been vaccinated all of my life for various diseases (chickenpox, measles, polio), when the vaccine was being developed I had a reluctance as to whether I would get my shot because I thought anything that was brought out this quickly after a virus had been discovered had to be suspect. I watched the coronavirus taskforce briefings on TV and I was skeptical of things that were being said because some of them were contradictory, and in some instances as when it was suggested that a bleach injection or ultraviolent light would cure the virus, I was totally convinced this wasn’t for me. But, I have several underlying health conditions that made me a high risk, so I knew that it was likely in my best interest to get vaccinated if I felt that the science was sound.
I started to do my own research about the vaccine and learned that although this was a new strain of coronavirus, researchers had been developing vaccines to combat these types of viruses for years. They didn’t just get up one morning and say “ah ha, this is the one.” Advances in research methods and technology had enabled the proteins associated with this particular virus to be isolated and tested through a rigorous process so that the medication and the science behind it was sound.
In addition, when I learned that one of the primary researchers who developed the vaccine was an African American woman, I said that surely she wouldn’t be doing something that would harm me! So, on Wednesday, January 13, I lined up at the Fairgrounds about 30 minutes before my scheduled appointment time to receive my first dose of the Moderna vaccine.
As I sat in the line I had mixed emotions—I was excited that I was about to get my shot and also a bit anxious as to whether I could expect side effects and how bad they might be. My sister-in-law is a nurse and she had advised that I take Tylenol prior to the shot and then again before going to bed that night. I followed those instructions to the letter. The only “side effect” I had was a slight tenderness at the injection site the day after getting my shot. That went away by the second day.
I’m eagerly awaiting my second dose which should be administered in February. I am glad to one step closer to developing immunity to COVID-19 and looking forward to when the world opens back up. I miss seeing my family and friends and look forward to being able to travel again. When making a decision about the vaccine, remember that your decision impacts your family. It’s far better to have a few side effects than to be attached to a ventilator in the hospital, unable to have your family visit with you and see how you are. The likelihood of recovery from minor side effects is much higher than contracting the virus and getting critically ill.
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