Every graduating class has interesting stories: individuals whose path to optometry may not have been easy or direct. However, these are the same individuals who become among the most successful optometrists upon graduation. Perhaps it could be someone who had the drive and motivation but simply needed the opportunity to succeed. And sometimes . . . just sometimes . . . being a student at the UMSL College of Optometry brings one important and totally unexpected extra benefit. This all defines the story of Dr. Cord Linville (’18).
Cord pursued looking for a future profession the right way. After losing his father at age nine and having two older brothers – both in healthcare professions – as mentors, he knew that healthcare was his calling. His initial choice was to pursue veterinary medicine, and he performed research at the College of Veterinary Medicine during his undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He learned the value of truly researching a profession to make an educated decision and ultimately decided this was not his passion. He then shadowed as many healthcare professions as possible, including dentistry, chiropractic, physical therapy, and optometry. It was the latter field that ultimately won, “While shadowing in the Optometry Department at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital, I witnessed the optometrists making a difference in patients’ lives through better vision, and how thankful the patients were. I decided optometry was the career for me, and I went after it. I began the application process, started working as an optician, and reached out to Student Services and professors (Dr. Ed Bennett) at UMSL College of Optometry. One of the best days of my life was the call that I was accepted into optometry school. I was accepted into several schools, but I knew UMSL College of Optometry was the best for me because of its proximity to my hometown, smaller class sizes, and in-state tuition.”
And Cord was very happy with the decision that he made. “During orientation for optometry school, I remember Nick Palisch saying that our classmates would become some of our closest life-long friends. He was spot on. With a small class size, we spend so much time getting to know each individual person in our class. After some time, I could go to any person in my class if I had a question, and they knew they could come to me. Not only did we spend many hours at school and studying together, we also spent countless hours together outside of school activities. Graduation day from optometry school was one of the best and happiest days of my life, but also in the back of my mind I realized that it would be a rare occurrence to have all of these great people together in one room again. I could not have made it through optometry school without my classmates; they are now some of my best friends. My education at UMSL was rigorous; we worked hard every single day. But through the many hours of studying, clinics, labs, and examinations, UMSL trained me to be a confident and knowledgeable optometrist. I am happy I chose UMSL Optometry- it was four of the best/most challenging years of my life.” Certainly the opposite is true as well. Cord distinguished himself both academically and clinically, resulting in his receiving two awards at graduation: Finalist for the MOF William R. Jackson Jr., O.D., Memorial Scholarship and recipient of the Eschenbach Optic Award.
His class was the first one to have all of their onsite clinical training at the new UMSL Patient Care Center, and Cord felt this made a significant difference in his education: “The UMSL Patient Care Center is truly state of the art. Not only did we have the new building, but also all new equipment we were able to use. There were three different departments when I was there: contact lens, primary care, and pediatrics. We were able to utilize all equipment necessary in all three departments, allowing a superior learning environment compared to the previous clinic.”
Cord also had a very unexpected and life-changing benefit of being a student at the College of Optometry . . . meeting his future wife, Dr. Kristine Anderson (’17). One month after graduation, on June 9th, they were married. For Cord, it was a true blessing that he is forever thankful for. “I met my future wife during my first week of optometry school. She worked for Student Services and was helping with our orientation. We became friends throughout that semester and started dating my second semester of first year. She has been there for me through all four years of optometry school, serving as a mentor when I needed help with a class or had a clinical question. Likewise, she was able to turn to me with questions as well. We motivated each other through difficult times and celebrated during exciting times. That is a fun part about having a significant other in the same profession. We both look back on optometry school and can easily say it was four of the most fun, challenging, and life-changing years of our lives. I am so thankful that optometry school brought us together, and I’m very excited for our future as a couple and as colleagues. Our ultimate goal is to be private practice owners. We want to be an active part of our community and give back through providing excellent optometric services.”