For many years, UMSL Optometry has strived to maintain its warm, family atmosphere; however, there is nothing colder than meeting your new classmates virtually from hundreds of miles apart! The incoming class has already overcome hurdles that no class has ever faced before, including interviewing, touring, signing leases and even buying equipment online. Although there are likely more nerves building up each day, there is a certain sense of adventure this class has taken on that might carry them further than anyone could imagine. When asked to comment on the status of the virtual admissions process, one incoming first year said she has “been impressed that even months [after their initial contact] people are still commenting on each other’s posts and engaging in conversation.” Not only is this reassuring for those tasked with encouraging student interactions, but it will lead to a much stronger foundation when all 50 students gather for the first time this August!

Several incoming students have also expressed their appreciation for the new online efforts that have allowed them to get to know one another on a more personal level. One incoming student shared that “the ways in which [they’ve] interacted so far have been nothing but great teasers for what will be a highly anticipated in-person gathering come this fall.”  During the first event the class had together, a group of 10 students met with two ambassadors on a virtual call to break the ice by selecting a personal virtual background. Seeing each student in their preferred “happy place,” whether it be a storybook setting or a football field, gave great insight into each of them.  These shared experiences, and many others “will continue to bring the class of 2024 closer together” as they continue to overcome challenges along their optometric journey.

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