Preparing for the big move to Chicago a year ago, I had no idea I would finish my first year of optometry school in my house in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. Then again, I guess no one predicted these circumstances.
The excitement I experienced at the beginning of the year flipped to dismay when the orders to go home were delivered. The uncertainty of how my education would proceed and the uncertainty of the world weighed on my mind.
Having to switch from in-person to online learning was challenging to say the least. Ever since undergrad, I viewed coming home as a “get-away.” Home was a place where I wouldn’t have to worry about academics and could enjoy spending time with loved ones. Acknowledging that my fellow colleagues and instructors were all going through huge adjustments, made this transition smoother.
In all honesty, at one point I found myself losing motivation for my academics. With the constant influx of lectures, quizzes, and exams, I began to lose sight of why I was putting myself through this.
An interaction with a peer shifted my focus. After my first quarter at ICO, I was fortunate enough to be in a position to peer-tutor fellow classmates. After preparing for an exam with a peer, I received a text thanking me for my help. The fulfillment I received from that text was like no other. That joy reminded me why I was here in the first place: to help people with their vision. This encounter ended up being the fuel needed to push me through. For those who might be struggling, always return to your why.
I’m happy to say my first year of optometry school is finally over. It was a tough year, but I feel immense gratitude for all the knowledge I’ve gained and the individuals I’ve learned from.
For ICO's Class of 2020, I can only imagine what it would feel like to go through these four years without having an in-person commencement. I hope that the organized commencement was all the same memorable and I hope you get the well-deserved in-person celebrations soon!
This year has been a roller-coaster from the pandemic to the political climate, and it is yet to be over. On the bright side, these events have provided me with tremendous perspective. As an incoming first-year or a new grad, this perspective will allow us to swerve and deflect all future curve balls that life throws at us.