Each August, 130 fresh faces from all over the country descend upon a hot and humid Memphis, gathering at a tower on Madison Avenue to begin a new journey. No person is the same as another, bringing to the table different backgrounds, different experiences and different viewpoints. Southern College of Optometry truthfully lives out its claims of offering a top-notch, community-minded education, bringing these 130 students together in a vision (no pun intended) to become well-rounded doctors. Students learn in the new state-of-the-art lecture hall and teaching labs and then use their knowledge and developing skills to help SCO care for its community. Here’s a glimpse into a few lesser-known happenings at SCO:
The school’s partnership with the Memphis Grizzlies serves to develop a relationship between strong anchors within the city. Students from the Sports Vision Club volunteer to provide fun activities and useful information about eye health for game attendees. These events have been great opportunities for students to be exposed to the community and gain experience with ways in which optometry can be used in a fun and lighthearted setting to educate game-goers on their visual system.
Many Americans are well aware of the vast homeless population in Memphis. SCO’s city is not shy in addressing these problems and providing avenues through which homelessness can be reduced. Project Homeless Connect and Convoy of Hope are two events that draw healthcare providers, housing and job agencies, barbers, etc. to the Memphis Convention Center. This is a central hub for aiding citizens in finding ways off the streets. So, after having a good time with Memphians at a Grizzlies game, students then have opportunities to be exposed to new people and use clinical skills in a mobile setting. SCO students don’t have to fly out of the country to help those in need. There are plenty of opportunities right here in the city!
Beyond immersing itself in the community, SCO is quick to open its own doors and offer some good old southern hospitality. Recently, low vision kids and their families were on campus for Solutions in Sight, a program that provided resources and activities for that patient demographic. Guests participated in a wide range of activities, from a petting zoo to a panel of low vision experts. Thanks to this event, patients were encouraged in their abilities, and families left more educated on the status of their child’s visual system. Additionally, our clinic welcomed residents of Synergy, a local drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. Staff doctors and students volunteered to provide comprehensive exams on Saturday mornings to these patients.
By the time four years pass, the same 130 students that gathered on Madison Avenue leave SCO with a true understanding of how their new career can be meaningfully utilized to provide top-notch patient care and to engage in useful, practical community involvement. In the end, SCO’s legacy is dispersed all over the country as these new doctors leave the City of the Blues. Memphis and the great staff doctors, professors and staff that make all of these experiences possible stay behind and welcome the newest group of students to continue SCO’s one-of-a-kind and impactful story.