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!