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Happy Spring everyone! I just finished my second round of midterms this semester and already there are classmates reminding me that final exams are just around the corner in four weeks. That means there’s about a month left before I’m done with my first year! These past few months truly have gone by so fast. SCO recently hosted the annual housing fair for the incoming class, and it reminded me of how I was in a semi-frantic position just a year ago trying to figure out the logistics of moving to Memphis. To think that I’m now no longer a newbie sounds a bit bizarre, but we must continue to progress forward and take on the challenges that come with being a second-year optometry student!
My start to optometry school was more seamless than expected because of the many people that were there to help me navigate through the unfamiliarity that comes with moving to a new location and beginning a graduate-level program. Upon starting at SCO, every one of the entering class is assigned to a big sib who is a student from the year above. Each student also has a faculty advisor who they first meet during orientation. Initially, I didn’t know about this but finding out that I had specific people I could reach out to gave me so much relief in case I had questions and didn’t know who I could ask. With that being said, you are not only limited to speaking with your big sib or faculty advisor, although they are excellent resources. You can reach out to any upperclassmen, faculty, or staff member, and everyone will try their best to answer to your needs. I’ve received lots of great pointers from asking various people about classes, study tips, time management, living in Memphis, good food places, and so on. All that advice has guided and helped me overcome the initial foreignness of optometry school.
Speaking of guidance, I was a participant in the Connect Mentorship program, which was brought together by the Hayes Center, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and Vision Source. It was a really great chance to form connections and learn about optometry outside of what we usually learn in the classroom. In this program, I was matched with a mentor who is an optometrist from the West Coast like I am. A meeting was held every couple of weeks, in which all the mentors and mentees of the program would collectively discuss topics pertaining to optometry school and the profession of optometry. Each session focused on a specific talking point, such as budgeting/finance management, school/life balance, different modes of practice, leadership, the impact of technology and telehealth on patient care, and much more. Mentors shared lots of their expertise and experience as former optometry students and current practicing optometrists. The mentees also had individual one-on-one time with their mentors for a closer interaction and time to ask questions that didn’t get addressed in the discussion with the larger group. Through this mentorship program, I was exposed to lots of insight that framed my mindset of what to expect as I continue through optometry school and eventually join the workforce in the near future.
Me and my mentor :)
Very soon, I won’t be a newcomer to SCO anymore but rather a “returner.” Even though I made it past the newcomer phase, I’ve realized that there will always be uncertainties ahead of me, as I will be new to second year of optometry school, and then third year, and so on. Being new to something can seem daunting, but I know the SCO community and affiliates are there to guide me along the way. I’m a little sad to let go of my position being a first-year student, but it’s time to make the next transition. Second year, here I come!
By Kammy Lin, '25