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Hey Friends, it’s Coralis again!
I just finished my first year of optometry school! It has been so surreal and an amazing experience. I learned so much more than I could ever imagine. So far, I have learned skills such as determining a patient’s prescription, looking at the optic disc at the back of the eye and how to examine presbyopic patients. I’ve also learned some chair skills that I was able to do on some friends and family when I came home for breaks. It was so nice to be able to show them some of the things I had been learning at school.
Aside from all the studying and exams, I have met a lot of wonderful people and made some great memories. SCO offers a lot of these fun activities that a lot of my classmates and I can enjoy. The Omega Delta (OD) fraternity hosts parties about once a month. My favorite party that I went to was the “Jarty Party”, which was a denim day party! We can also get some free or discounted tickets to Grizzlies games, Memphis 901 soccer games, and Memphis Redbirds baseball games. I had the opportunity to go to a Grizzlies game and we beat the Utah Jazz! However, one of my favorite times was going to the annual Eyeball! Eyeball is like prom or homecoming and people from all classes come together and dress up!
Unfortunately, due to the world’s current situation with the Coronavirus, our traditional way of learning was cut short. We had transitioned to virtual learning in the middle of March and ultimately ended the semester online. Throughout the quarantine and isolation, we took 13 exams and 1 practical online; but the faculty and professors were helping us every step of the way. Even through this unprecedented and unexpected time, the SCO family was dedicated to helping us succeed and learn everything we needed to. Which goes back to my previous post about SCO being the perfect school for me!
On the other hand, I had the opportunity to go back home to Florida and spend some more time with my mom (yes, I did the treacherous 14 hour drive again, but this time by myself). I have been able to try out new recipes that I’ve always wanted to make. It was so good that I’m going to share my zucchini lasagna with you!
To make this amazing dish you will need: 4-6 zucchinis, 2 tbsp oil, 1 lb ground beef/turkey, 2-3 cloves of garlic, ¼ tsp of Italian seasoning, ½ diced onion, 1 container of ricotta cheese, 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese, 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, 1 large egg, 1 jar of marinara sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.
Start out by preheating the oven to 375 degrees and cutting the zucchinis into thin slices lengthwise. Then, lay the slices out on paper towels and lightly salt them to remove the excess moisture. After about 15 minutes, pat them dry and remove the salt. While the zucchini slices are “sweating”, lightly sauté the garlic and onion in the oil. Then, add the ground beef/turkey, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. After the meat is cooked, drain the excess oil and add the marina sauce (save some to add to the dish later). Turn the heat down and let the meat sauce simmer for about 5-10 minutes. To make the cheese stuffing, mix the ricotta cheese, ½ cup of parmesan cheese, ½ cup of mozzarella cheese, and egg in a separate bowl. You can choose to add some Italian seasoning to the cheese mixture if you wish for a little more flavor. Next, assemble the lasagna. Start out by adding the remainder of the marina sauce to the bottom of the dish. Then, line the bottom of the pan with zucchini, leaving no gaps between the slices. Next, add a thin layer of mozzarella cheese, followed by the meat sauce, then the cheese mixture. Repeat again with the zucchini slices, mozzarella cheese, meat sauce and cheese mixture. Then, add the last layer zucchini slices, and the remainder of the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Bake the lasagna for 30 minutes uncovered then broil for 3-4 minutes to toast the top layer of cheese. Let it cool and enjoy!
All in all, the ups and downs of this past year have taught me so much and I am so grateful to be at this school. Even with this current situation going on, I am still excited to see what the next 3 years has in store for me!
I hope you enjoy the recipe and until next time,
SCO Student Michelle Alaimo, ’23, writes about her first year at SCO:
It’s officially the end of my first year at SCO! I can’t believe it’s already over. It seems like my classmates and I were just picking up our equipment at orientation. We have made it through so much together this year, from tough exam weeks and lab practicals to switching to online learning this spring. First semester was a challenging transition for me but getting past that made second semester feel much more manageable. I think my classmates and I were all ready for our summer break to arrive! I’m so grateful for everything I learned this year and all of the amazing friends I’ve made. Here are some of my favorite memories from first year:
Private Practice Crawl: Members of the Private Practice Club went on a “practice crawl” to 3 practices in the Memphis area. We got to meet the doctors and learn about their offices.
Convocation and homecoming: Last October, we got to celebrate homecoming weekend with the entire school and many alumni who visited.
Omega Delta Halloween party: This party was so much fun and everyone’s costumes were so great! I dressed up as one of Ms. Melissa’s Babycakes. It was right after an exam week, so everyone was ready to celebrate on Beale Street.
St. Jude Marathon Weekend: SCO had the largest team signed up for the St. Jude race weekend, which was awesome! I ran the half marathon and got to cheer on some other SCO runners doing the 5K and 10K races.
Eyeball: This year’s Eyeball was at The Columns downtown and the after party was on Beale Street.
SECO: I attended the SECO conference in Atlanta in March with some of my classmates. We got to walk around and see all the vendors who were at the conference. At the SECO student reception, we got to meet students from other optometry schools.
Since the transition to online learning this past spring, I’ve really missed seeing my classmates every day. However, we have been keeping in touch and supporting each other throughout the past few months. I am looking forward to the next time our whole class can be together again and all the memories we will make in the future!
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!