Well class of 2021, we did it!!! I know I myself, our professors, our parents, loved ones, friends, etc. could not be more proud. Looking back on this year, it’s honestly amazing to see all of the knowledge we’ve acquired, the milestones we’ve marked, the friendships we’ve made, and so much more.
Now as I sit at home, I quite frankly literally do not know what to do with all of this free time. In fact, I even asked some of my friends, “what is free time and how do you use it?” (joking… kind of). It’s also a blessing to just sit and look back at this year.
Personally, this was the most challenging year I have experienced thus far in my 23 years of life. From being the farthest I’ve ever been from home (yes, it’s only a mere 3 hours, but my undergrad was 1 hour away), missing my friends from undergrad, no longer being a college athlete, new professors, new city, new friends, new living arrangements, new EVERYTHING — I was overwhelmed to say the least. I did adjust to city life and to school, but it took a lot longer than I would have liked. I like to think I’m decent with change, but when your “world” was once the confines of the area of Pittsburgh, PA to New Wilmington (Amish country), PA, things seem to get a little challenging. I was no longer a drive from home, a walk away from all my best friends on Westminster College’s campus, or a short walk to the pool or bio labs where I spent nearly all of my time. Everything seemed to be a 20 minute drive or walk away in Columbus. And don’t get me started on parking in Columbus… HOWEVER, though it sounds like I had a lot of complaints, which I did, I still adjusted. I still succeeded. I found my friends, the people I vibe well with. I found the places I like to study, the coffee shops I like to frequent, and the freedom that comes with being in a new place. There’s so much to explore in Columbus, and once I got my footing, I was able to run a little faster, and explore a little more. The city is a really cool place with a lot to offer. Not to mention the amazing food (I’m definitely a “foodie”). So here I am at home, grateful for this whole year. Never would I ever have imagined the challenges I would face this year, especially academically, but I came out swinging nonetheless. I am so proud of my classmates and myself for all we have accomplished this year. It’s truly inexplainable, unless you care to take a few hours to sit with us and listen to all the new big words we’ve learned.
Topping the year off with our white coat ceremony was just what the doctor ordered. The ceremony was funny, exhilarating, high energy, emotional, and a whirlwind of other feelings. Putting on that coat (shoutout to Dr. Earley for helping me with mine) was a beautiful moment. It made me feel like all of my hard work was for something, and that being a doctor really is within my reach. You see, unlike most schools that just give their students the coat at the beginning of the year, we must earn ours. With every hour spent in class or studying, with the time we must dedicate to our classes instead of talking to friends or making time for ourselves, we earned our coats through hours upon hours (what seemed like 1 eternity later..) of grueling work both inside and outside of the classroom. Optometry school is no joke. It’s not just a year or 2. It’s 4 years of learning how to give the best care possible to our patients. It’s learning not only the science, but the patient-doctor dialogue/interaction. It’s learning to make mistakes and listen to others. It’s learning that you’re no longer the best of the best because you’re at school where everyone came from being “the best/top of their class”. It’s learning to be humble, kind, and compassionate. It’s 4 years in which we grow into the best doctors possible from the encouragement and support of all those around us. 1 year down, 3 to go.
I am extremely grateful for this summer off, and I know it is much deserved and needed. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to use all the fancy new equipment we got this year. Here’s to a blessed year, and more to come.