Brian Doyle, OD ’15, was first in the procession line. “I just noticed that my heart started beating really quickly,” he said as the organ began to play. “I’m a little nervous, but it’s a good kind of nervous.” Four years of hard work had built up to commencement day. Nerves were a common theme among graduates, but all were in agreement- the hard part was over.
The Class of 2015 took their seats to music by the Doonaree Pipe Band. After an Invocation and Welcome, the second-ever Joseph L. Henry Achievement Award was presented to Neil R. Hodur, OD ’75. Though Dr. Hodur gave perhaps his last lecture this year, he remains a favorite professor. Remarked one graduate, “He’s just so smart – the smartest guy I know – but he’s so humble. I’m really excited that he’s doing our Commencement speech.”
“Change” was a major theme throughout the proceedings. During his address, Dr. Hodur described the sea squirt, and the changes this creature experiences as it enters adolescence. The sea squirt “attaches itself to a sea shell, crab, piling, gravel, [or] sandy bottom of water.” Then, it stops using its brain. “Do not become a sea squirt,” Dr. Hodur advised. He encouraged the Class of 2015 to remember the Clinical Laws, the “Big Three” optics formulas, and of course, to love life. Dr. Stephanie Messner also applauded the graduates for thriving under change.
The graduates could not be hooded until they had taken the Optometric Oath. Despite the day’s theme of change, the message and ideals of the oath remain steadfast. ICO Alumni President Larry Van Daalen, OD ’87, summed it up best. “Take care of patients. That’s the key.”
The new optometrists were quick to recognize ICO’s contributions to their blossoming careers. Said Blaine Watkins, OD ’15, “The technology that they provide for us to help us make it through the coursework is exceptional.” Another student reflected upon the bonds she formed. “I’m definitely going to miss the community that we have at ICO. It’s such a tight-knit group, and everybody’s there to help everybody.”
As Dr. Arol Augsburger conferred their degrees, the Class of 2015 had many reasons to be proud. Jennifer Tai, OD ’15, became the first doctor in her family. Michael Servi, OD ’15, looked forward to finally settling down after 8 years of moving. Max, young son of Dr. Blaine Watkins, grinned. “Daddy gets to go to work… to check eyes.”
When the graduates emerged outside, the rain had stopped. All 154 doctors were greeted with hugs, high fives, even a Vulcan salute from Dr. Hodur. “Live long and prosper,” he had said at the end of his address. More appropriate words could not have been chosen. ICO’s 154 newest alumni will surely have long, prosperous careers ahead.
By the Numbers
Did you know?
ICO’s class population was male-dominated until 1992. Now, girls rule! Females have been the enrolled majority every year since 1998.