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Class of 2021 Mixer

The College of Optometry at UMSL has many distinct features, including small class size, a wide array of externships, successful board pass rates, and high retention, but one of the most defining characteristics is the family feel atmosphere.   Each year the college begins the cycle of recruiting and admitting a new group of individuals from all over the country, and even the world.  This year the College of Optometry is welcoming 49 new students to the Class of 2021.  These students come together as strangers and will leave as close friends and even extended members of one another’s families by the time they graduate.

The journey toward becoming this family begins in April at the Class Mixer, where the students meet for the first time and get to know one another.  Spouses, significant others, and even parents are invited to the event; providing the opportunity to know not only the other students but also those who make up their support system.   The class of 2021, along with their fa…
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White Coat Ceremony: A Wonderful Tribute to the Class of Harmony

On May 19th, a beautiful Friday afternoon, 41 future optometrists formally received their white coat, significant by virtue of the fact that they now have clinical privileges allowing them the ability to provide direct patient care.They worked very diligently during their second year of optometry school to receive the recognition bestowed upon them on this day.
Master of Ceremonies, Assistant Dean Dr. Ed Bennett welcomed the students who, based upon, a very common personality trait, have been termed the “Class of Harmony” as he explained.“Harmony is defined as unity, agreement, friendship, and fellowship and this certainly defines the Class of 2019.This is a class of exceptional leadership and maturity and that has been very important this past year.Some of you came to UMSL making a career change . . . thank you . . . we greatly benefitted from the talents you brought to our College as well as your engagement and leadership and you will bring these qualities to our profession upon grad…

Benefits of the “Ten Percent Rule” . . . the Story of Ethan and Courtney Brilley

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 as 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…

Newborn News

Dr. Fyizza Abbas (‘14) and her husband Ajax are the proud parents of Aliya Laila, born May 26th.
Dr. Christy Hayes (‘11) and husband James welcomed Nora Josephine into the world on May 28th.
Adam Wira (’19) and wife Afsheen are the proud parents of Elizabeth Ruby, born June 5th.
Phil Lueckenhoff (‘16) and wife Laura Christine welcomed Leo Philip into the world on June 8th.


UMSL Hosts the 2017 Association of Optometric Contact Lens Educators 34th Annual Educational Workshop

The UMSL College of Optometry was host to 56 contact lens educators from all of the Colleges in North America as well as 23 representatives from contact lens industry sponsors as host of the 34th Annual Association of Optometric Contact Lens Educators(AOCLE) Annual Educational Workshop, held June 1 – 3.The theme of the meeting was ““Scleral Lenses: The Good, The Bad, The Technology.” Guest lecturers included renown scleral lens innovators Drs. Christine Sindt and Jason Jedlicka. Attendees had the opportunity to participate in workshops pertaining to scleral lens evaluation and fitting.A highlight of the workshop was a tour of the new UMSL Patient Care Center.The organizing committee consisted of Drs. Julie DeKinder, Vinita Henry, Ed Bennett, and Beth Henderson with Dr. DeKinder doing a wonderful job as Chair of the committee.And she was very pleased to have this opportunity as she relates: “It was an honor to host the AOCLE at UMSL.  Having the opportunity to showcase our new facility…

2017 Awards

In addition to receiving their Doctor of Optometry degree many of the Class of 2017 also received individual honors and recognition during the awards ceremony that followed commencement.
This year the College of Optometry recognized three students who were part of the Optometry Scholar Program.The Optometry Scholar Program is a program created by Professor Carl Bassi along with several other faculty members who participate in guiding students in assisting in research in various areas including dry eye, glaucoma, and macular pigment.Drs. Molly Gorder, Amy Schaag, and Lindsay Swenson all participated in the program.




Dr. Robert Koetting scholarship in the amount of $1,500 went to Drs. Kelsey Haugen and Lindsay Swenson.





The Mary Gilbert scholarship for scholastic achievement and leadership went to Dr. Yousef Ibrahim.