If you have read my blog on how I got to ICO, you might be able to empathize with how much graduation means to my family and me.
It means my brother can probably start investing in himself more, instead of penny-pinching to ensure that I have food on the table while I have no source of income while on externships.
It means that I now have the opportunity to retire my parents so that they can stop working multiple jobs 7 days a week.
It means all those times the big bankers told me “you can’t/shouldn’t/won’t make it,” didn’t stop me from actually doing it anyway.
It means I can sign off on my own prescriptions and start to develop my own patient base that grows with me (no more asking for permission to dilate!)
It means I can pursue my dreams of continuing with mission work all over the world so I can make a difference in those that can’t afford to see.
It means I have a career where I am doing what I love every single day that I am working, and the world is my oyster.
It also means that I will miss the ICO staff like Teisha Johnson, Hank, and Anthony who have been there for me and look out for me like my family away from home.
My time at ICO allowed me to grow both as an individual and as an optometrist. I truly had the time of my life. You know it’s true when you start a hashtag #timeofmylife for it. I got to travel, build friendships, network with doctors and vendors. Each trip was an unforgettable experience.
Friendships were formed with people from all over the world that I would have otherwise never been able to have the pleasure to meet. Graduation is bittersweet, and I struggle with not being able to see my classmates like I used to in first year, but I definitely won’t be missing studying every weekend!
I am honored to be an alumnus of ICO class of 2015. I am proud of my education that I worked hard to obtain. I am forever grateful to all my professors and preceptors who have taught me all that I know, and encouraged me throughout my career here. A special thanks goes to Dr. Mindy Nguyen, Dr. Dominick Maino from ICO, as well as Dr. Barry Jose and Dr. Gregg Russell from my externships who were the most influential and inspirational people I have ever had the pleasure to work with. I have no doubt in my mind I learned from the best of the best doctors.
Optometry for me is a dream come true, and like any other dream, it doesn’t come easy. It’s sweat and tears and more sacrifice than you can imagine, but standing with my cap and gown on graduation day made one thing clear; it was worth it, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you ICO for making me Dr. Jennifer Tai.
This article was originally featured on our student blog. For more great posts like this one, visit the blog. It is updated several times a month with exciting new stories at http://blog.ico.edu/