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Dear SCO family,
Recent events have prompted soul searching and reflection across the country about some of the challenges that we face as Americans. From disparities in healthcare that have affected large segments of our community in the COVID-19 pandemic, to last week's tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and too many others, the deep hurt should be apparent to us all.
Optometrists choose a career in health care because they really want to help others. How we, as an institution, view the world around us helps shape our values. Those values were defined to reflect our desire to impact others through the important work we do. We train our students to listen to their patients, to notice changes in their health, and how to treat each other with professionalism and compassion.
As some of you know, SCO is one of only 23 optometry schools in the nation, so a sizable amount of this country's residents receive their vision care from an SCO graduate. We must work together to make sure that we do everything we can as individuals, and as an institution, to ensure that we don't exist in a silo. We shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking that there are those among us who have not been impacted by the need for changes in how society treats segments of our fellow citizens. As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I know firsthand what hate can do to families and individuals.
Just last month, SCO's first female African-American graduate passed away. Dr. Adedayo Olympio was a 1983 graduate who practiced in Springdale, Maryland. The fact that it took 51 years after SCO was founded for her to become SCO's first female African-American graduate should tell you how slowly change can take place. As a society, we cannot continue hoping that more changes occur without us doing our part to help ensure that all Americans achieve equality in the 21st century.
Think how disturbing it would be if one of your coworkers or fellow students were to be targeted with excessive force or treated unjustly because of their race in violation of equal protection under the law. Many of the people in our lives have experienced fear and anger, and we must do a better job in hearing them and understanding them.
SCO remains committed to providing an inclusive, safe, and welcoming community for everyone. As part of our values, we promote respect and integrity. Please do your part to help change hearts and minds so we can be part of the solution. We use the term "family" a lot at SCO. Just remember that when one member of our family hurts, we all do. Let's all do our part to make sure that all members of our family feel heard and are respected equally.
Thank you all for caring,