There are many words I could use to describe my experience as a first-year optometry student. None of them seem to do my time at Midwestern University justice.
Coming from my undergraduate studies at Northern Arizona University, I felt an immense shift in the atmosphere when I transitioned to optometry school. Instead of the classes I had at Northern Arizona University, which sometimes had upward of 100 students or more, at my optometry school all my classes had the exact same 56 students. My optometry class of 2023 consists of 56 students, whom I spend every school hour with. This amount of interaction allows us to be as close as family. It starts off as vague familiarity and creeps up on you until suddenly you know everything going on in their life and find yourself video calling their family.
The class size and classmates were not the only transition worth noting. There were also the studies that were a sizable difference from undergraduate schooling. Starting off fresh from my undergraduate major in biomedical science, I thought that having a large science background could help me achieve a better foundation for my classes at Midwestern University. During orientation I found out that many of my classmates came from very different backgrounds. Many had kids and some were much older than I am. It was interesting to hear how long some people had been out of schooling and some, like me, who only had a summer off. Talking to my classmates at the very beginning made me feel uneasy about their solid amount of experience and knowledge in the optometry field. Because many of my classmates had been technicians or opticians, I suddenly felt as if I were out of my league coming into optometry school knowing next to nothing. I felt immensely underprepared and was afraid that I wouldn’t be up to par with my classmates. Even listening to our first lecture, I was having trouble trying to puzzle out what the cornea was. Luckily the faculty at Midwestern University is exceptional and can provide an amazing educational atmosphere. Many of the doctors at Midwestern are younger and make their teachings more relatable.
It was so nice to be around people who take this seriously and want to help people.
Immediately after school started, I was finally feeling like I was on the path to becoming an optometrist. The first time I felt like I was going to become a doctor was in my methods class. Practicing on each other and performing eye health tests was the first time I could envision myself doing this in the future. It was so nice to be around people who take this seriously and want to help people. I am so thankful I was able to experience my first year of optometry school, and I can’t wait to see what else will come.