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SCO Student Zeke Grissom, ’21, writes about his experience attending the Baltimore Orioles’ Spring Training to assist the optometric team with screenings for players:
Orioles' Spring Training 2020
Baseball season is officially back and the buzz of fresh starts and heralded aspirations begin to permeate across the country. February 12 marked the spring training report date for pitchers and catchers of the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota, Florida.
Each year, Major League athletes begin their time by going through a series of medical evaluations before they are able to begin their respective seasons. These results are submitted to the league and used by the team to properly care for their athletes. In conjunction, the Orioles’ optometric team has been led for many years by Dr. Myrowitz out of the Baltimore area. In recent years, he and the organization have seen the value in vision enhancement and brought on SCO faculty member Dr. Paul Harris to assist in the evaluation and training of these athletes.
In an effort to teach and promote the development of future optometrists (and to have extra help,) Dr. Harris was able to coordinate this into an opportunity for me and a few other SCO students and faculty to attend this year’s training.
During my trip, we were able to do a thorough screening of each of the pitchers and catchers, as well as a number of the hitters reporting early. The screenings themselves consisted of three major objectives: evaluation of ocular health, establishment of concussion baseline measurements (to be compared to post-concussion), and observation of visual performance. Through this process, we were able to identify any players that needed further in-office evaluation and those that we deemed as a high yield candidate for further visual performance enhancement. Using subsequent follow-up visits and training, we will be able to provide the proper personalized care to ensure health and peak visual performance for these athletes on the biggest stage.
Beyond the Exam Room
“I have died and gone to heaven.” This was my response when initially asked about my experience at spring training, but it might not be for the reasons you think.
Sure, I was able to be around some of the greatest baseball players on the planet. Guys coming off of career years, others with extremely high ceilings. As I was there, that wasn’t what I was caught up in. Here I was in the perfect mix of childhood dreams, career aspirations, and the exciting atmosphere that every team experiences going into a new season, regardless of the level.
Growing up in a family of faithful believers that “Baseball is America’s Pastime,” baseball has always been a big part of my life. From throwing with my dad until the sun went down to playing with David Hess (current RHP for the Orioles) at Tennessee Tech, it has always been there since day one.
When it was time for me to hang up the cleats though, I found optometry, a field with endless possibilities. As a third-year student, SCO has already allowed me to take part in many unique opportunities that have fueled a fire for how I will be able to use my education in ways that are untraditional for optometry.
Vision assessment is no longer confined to the 20-foot exam lanes in an office setting where 20/20 reigns supreme, but rather stretches into all areas of our lives—and our profession is catching up with that notion. For instance, as sports have advanced, so has the speed and intensity stretching across all levels of play, leading to new needs.
As optometrists, we are to be on the front line with concussion management and detection, even at early ages. As we look at high school, collegiate, and professional athletes, everyone is relentlessly looking for the slight edge of improvement that separates the elite from the great; I am convinced that vision training is and will continue to be the avenue to unveil that untapped potential.
Just as these players are itching to get onto the field and lead their team to new heights this season, I am anxiously awaiting my time to continue the dream, combining my love of both baseball and optometry. Whether that’s at the t-ball level, the Major League level, or anywhere in between, SCO and optometry have opened the gate wide for endless possibilities.
-Zeke Grissom, Class of 2021
To celebrate the winding down of 2019, a few SCO student bloggers share what they’re thankful for at this moment as optometry students. Enjoy, and happy holidays from SCO!
The first item that comes to mind regarding gratitude is merely being at SCO! Not to mention this recently constructed study room on the 4th floor that I’m currently studying in :). I am grateful that the decision-makers at SCO listen to and care for us by continuously enhancing our four-year experience. This second-year fall semester has been difficult and enlightening. As I look back, I am thankful for professors that selflessly stay after class to answer my questions, give helpful feedback on practical exams, see me as a whole person (not just a number in my class) and encourage me to keep moving forward! I enjoy pulling up to school each day because I get to interact with amazing classmates, staff and faculty! What a wonderful time of life! Happy Holidays!
This holiday season, I'm extra thankful for the supportive environment here at SCO. My classmates have become my close friends over the course of the semester and I've gotten to know many upperclassmen as well. There are always people available to study, practice lab together, or just hang out. Getting through challenging midterms and lab practicals has been that much easier with such awesome people by my side. It is so cool to think about how much we have learned since starting in August. I can't believe my first semester of optometry school is almost over!
I’m thankful for my friends. I know that sounds ridiculous, of all the things I could be thankful for during optometry school I chose my friends. But in reality, I am so thankful for the support system I have in Memphis. Graduate school by no means is easy and without being surrounded by a group of great people, being as successful as I have been here just wouldn’t be possible. It’s weird to say but I’ve met some lifelong friends at SCO!
Here’s just a few of them!
During this holiday season, we at SCO are thankful for what was certainly a year to remember. We hope you enjoy this video highlighting our 2019:
Wishing you a holiday season full of warmth, and a bright and happy future in 2020.
Another reminder as to who I am, my name is Pooja Alloju and I’m now currently a THIRD year at SCO from Dallas. That’s crazy how fast time has passed! So, you guys know how I found myself here and a few things I like to do in my free time, but I wanted to write about SCO- specifically the staff here.
One of my favorite things about SCO is how this school does a great job of making everyone feel welcome and part of the SCO family, and this feeling extends past professors and even Dr. Reich (our president). I specifically wanted to highlight two staff members specifically, Ms. Melissa from our on-campus eatery, Blink, and Kevyn from Physical Plant.
I’ve mentioned Ms. Melissa before and her amazing food (meatballs and bread pudding), but one of my favorite things she makes is a chocolate cake with whipped topping and heath bar. It’s something she doesn’t make often but one day in passing I told her that that was my favorite dessert. Two days later I was eating my lunch and Ms. Melissa came up to me and gave me a free slice of her cake and said, “I hope you have room for dessert.” I was genuinely touched that someone that really doesn’t interact with me on a daily basis wanted to make my favorite dessert and give me one for free. Anytime she has that cake, she always makes a point to let me know! And y’all I’m not joking at how great this cake is!
So, over the summer I actually moved! I used to live on Mud Island but for my last year at SCO I decided to move Downtown into a studio apartment. And with the new move I actually needed a couch, and since I have a handy dandy boyfriend – I asked him to make me a couch. YES, I said make!. My new couch actually required crib mattresses for the cushions. I bought my couch cushions (aka crib mattresses) from Walmart online and because I wasn’t thinking I had them sent to my school mailbox. Well, when they came in – I was in clinic and had maybe 20 minutes to somehow carry TWO of them to my car that was parked at the Activity Center. As I was lugging these things around (I know they’re crib mattresses, but they were kind of heavy), Kevyn from Physical Plant saw me struggling with them. Now I knew Kevyn from before this because any time he’s around he’d always greet us as we entered school. He saw me struggling and asked if I need any help. Not only did he help with carrying these mattresses throughout the school, he also walked them out to my car! He even asked me the next time he saw me how the couch turned out!
I’ve realized at SCO that these are not just random acts of kindness – this is just how kind everyone here is! I think I’ve always ended these posts with something along the lines of how SCO does a great job of making you feel welcome when you join, and I hope now y’all can believe me!
My name is Coralis Millien and this is my first year at SCO! I am originally from West Palm Beach, Florida. Just because Florida is one of the states in the south, does not mean it IS the south! Memphis is “a-whole-nother” ballpark for me, but I’m loving every part of it! Everything from the food and city life to all the friendly and welcoming people. One thing that has impacted me thus far was during my 14-hour drive to Memphis. My brother and I were driving by the Georgia- Alabama state line, and all of a sudden I saw the clock on my phone turn back an hour! I looked up and noticed we were about to pass the central time zone limit. I felt like I was traveling back in time and it made my move all that more real to me!
Ever since 10th grade of high school I knew I wanted to be in the eyecare field - whether that be optometry or ophthalmology I was unsure. So, I started shadowing in both fields both in high school, but I was sure I did not want to do surgery. When I went to undergrad at the University of South Florida, I realized I was set on optometry! I joined the pre-optometry club my freshman year and eventually became an officer senior year. We were a tight-knit group, but we had a lot of resources for shadowing and volunteering, optometry school applications, and even studying for all the hard classes like organic chemistry and calculus! Through this club I had the opportunity to attend Vision Expo in New York in 2017 and even be a part of 2 optometric/ophthalmologic mission trips to Haiti!
Having the opportunity to go to Haiti these past 2 summers and be a small part in changing these patient’s lives was an amazing experience for me. My father’s family is from Haiti and it felt great to be able to give back to my people. I am not fluent in Creole by any means, but every word that I DID know and said to the patients changed their whole outlook on their visit. On this trip I worked alongside 3 ophthalmologists and 1 optometrist (who’s an SCO alum) providing full eye exams, glasses, and cataracts surgeries. I assisted in handing the doctors the tools, ushering patients to and from the OR and administering eye drops to the patients. Watching the patient's faces light up and smile when they put on glasses or unbandaged their eyes for their one-day post-op appointments melted my heart each and every time.
Part of the reason I chose SCO is for the dedication to missions and service. I have been a part of this school for 3 months so far (feels like a lifetime) and I was able to volunteer with Eye Serve Memphis at a plant sale. This is an organization at our school that offers community service events for students that are unrelated to optometry. Another club that I joined, called Fellowship of Christian Optometrists, has community service events locally and abroad. Over the summer they have 2 mission trips – this year one is to Jamaica and the other is to Costa Rica – and I look forward to participating. I think this will be even more impactful to me since I would have learned so many skills by then and will actually be able to perform them on patients, instead of assisting the doctors as I did in Haiti. I know either trip will be a great experience.
I would like to end my rant with why I choose SCO and Memphis to be my home for the next 4 years. The first interaction I had with SCO was when Sunnie (the SCO Director of Student Recruitment) visited my pre-optometry club my junior year. She was so nice and talked about all the great things that SCO and Memphis had to offer. That made my application process and eventual interview that much better because I had a familiar face to greet when I visited. From the moment I stepped onto campus and every interaction since then, I have been warmly greeted and felt welcomed by every staff, student, and faculty. This school has built a community that is willing and wanting to see you succeed every step of the way. Secondly, I have only been here for a few months, but I have already learned so much from my professors and upperclassmen. From day one, we received our first set of equipment and learned clinical skills that will be the foundation of what we do for the rest of our lives. The dedication and strong foundation of clinical skills right off the bat was at the top of my list in choosing schools, which is why SCO was the perfect match for me!
EYE am so excited to SEE what the next 4 years has in store for me!
My name is Michelle Alaimo, and I just started my first year here at SCO. I’m originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and went to Ohio State University for undergrad, so moving to Memphis was definitely a big change for me. So far, the transition could not have gone smoother! Before classes started, I was able to meet my second-year big sib, get to know some of my classmates, and spend time exploring Memphis. Although I know I will eventually miss the days of lounging by the pool, I was ready to jump in and get started with classes!
The last week of August, our class had orientation for two days, where we learned all about how things work at SCO. Getting to see the ins and outs of the school just reminded us all why we chose SCO and how many resources it has to offer. We also got our first set of equipment, which was so exciting! The first day we learned about the logistics of SCO, like where to park, where our lockers are, etc. The second day of orientation was more focused on the field of optometry and our classes. We got to meet our instructors and hear about their expectations. Besides getting information about starting optometry school, throughout orientation we also took fun photo booth pictures and met classmates through different activities.
At the end of the second day of orientation, our families and friends arrived for the much-anticipated White Coat and Honor Code Ceremony! It was such a great feeling to put on our new white coats and celebrate this next step in our journey to becoming optometrists. Of course, after the ceremony we had a delicious barbeque dinner! I loved getting to show my family Memphis and SCO over the weekend.
There have been many opportunities to meet other SCO students and make friends. I had already met a lot of people through the Housing Fair back in March but was able to meet so many more people in the past couple of weeks, including upperclassmen. The social fraternity at SCO, Omega Delta, has already organized multiple events like a pool party and float trip to bring students together.
This past week, we started classes! The first day was surprisingly not as intimidating as I had expected. All of the instructors were really great, and unlike undergrad, all of our classes are actually important for our career which makes them more interesting. After morning lectures, I had my Theory and Methods lab, so I got to jump right into learning the techniques and basics to patient care. After only a few days, it already feels like I learned so much!
I am confident I made the right decision in choosing this school, and know I’m going to be getting the best optometric education and clinical experience I could. Besides that, I’m going to make so many memories with an awesome community and eat lots of delicious barbeque! I can’t wait to see what these four years have in store for me at SCO!