Every year at new student orientation in August – and most recently at the pre-mixer in April for entering students – I (Ed Bennett) will always look at the students and indicate for them to “look around because four of you will ultimately get married to each other; therefore, you might as well get to know your class well at the beginning so these decisions can be made early.”   This always gets a laugh but it is backed up by fact as with most classes that is exactly the number of students who marry within the class.  It was true with the Class of 2017.  Drs. Michael Roberts and Aubrey Koehler were recently married and, earlier in their optometric training Drs. Courtney (Berry) Brilley and Ethan Brilley also were married.

As Ethan relates, he never thought marrying within his class would happen to him. “I remember meeting Courtney at orientation, and after learning she was from Dallas, I asked her if she was a Cowboys fan. (I am a die-hard fan). She responded ‘No, but I am now!’  We started dating by Christmas time our first year, and it wasn’t too long after we were thinking about marriage. Our class was told many times that two classmates or more will get married by the end of the four years; I never thought it would be me.”  And, as Ethan commented, they complemented each other well while enduring a rigorous curriculum.  “As far as working together in school, Courtney is better at remembering when things are due and what we should concentrate on. She’s the planner. I was more of the researcher, finding things to study and ways to memorize.”

In addition to meeting his future wife, Ethan felt that UMSL was a good choice for him and Courtney to receive their optometric training.  “UMSL was always at the top of my list because of the reputation it had in the St. Louis community and the welcoming faculty I met at my interview. Dr. Brown visited my undergraduate school and provided information to our pre-optometry club.  UMSL gave me the tools I need to properly provide eye care to the community I practice in. I also became a better learner and researcher during my years in optometry school. Those skills come in handy when keeping up to date on optometric knowledge.”

And their ultimate plan is to stay in touch with the family that is the Class of 2017, as Ethan relates.  “Courtney and I plan to work at private practices in the Denver area and look forward to seeing our colleagues/classmates at future optometric meetings and conventions!”

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