By: Illiana Luna for the Office of Communications Posted On: 08/29/2022
HOUSTON, TEXAS (AUG. 18, 2022) - An annual tradition signifying one's start to their professional health care career, the College of Optometry welcomed 100 individuals from the class of 2026 at Thursday's white coat ceremony in orientation week.
Doctor of Optometry student from the incoming class, Yareli Duran shares her inspiration for becoming the next generation of leading optometrists based on her family’s health needs.
“Joining the optometry field stemmed from my parents and the community surrounding me back home," said Duran. “I noticed my parents had a lot of eye-related issues that went untreated and wondered, “How could I help?”.
Observations in her hometown of Haltom City, Texas had limited optometrists available to the Hispanic community, which inspired Duran to bring awareness to underserving populations.
"There are many health-related problems affecting the vision that can go untreated for Hispanics, as I saw in my community," said Duran. “Our vision is one of the most important senses we could have, and I want to help other families preserve their vision and health."
Incoming classes at the University of Houston College of Optometry participate in a purposeful weeklong orientation event representative of the college's mission and values. Here, students participate in community service activities, meet with faculty and student organizations, tour the college and receive CPR training leading to white coats.
“Orientation week was so eventful because I learned a lot about the college that cares for their students, faculty, staff, doctors and patients,” shares Duran. “For first-year students like myself, volunteering at the food bank and meeting with my mentors helped build that sense of community which made me feel more at home."
The 22-year-old received her symbolic white coat along with 99 classmates signaling the start of a commitment to leadership in optometric health care, service, research and education.
“Everything has led up to this moment since high school,” said Duran. “This college was my dream school when I decided to pursue this career, so having this moment brought me joy and a sense of accomplishment.”
In addition to the white coat ceremony first conducted in 1993, students recite an Optometric Oath vowing to practice the profession with honor and compassion as future health care professionals.
“I want to establish myself as a trustworthy and reliable doctor that patients can come to with confidence,” said Duran. “In the future, I want to bring awareness and availability to vision health in underserving communities like Guanajuato, Mexico, where my parents are from."
The University of Houston College of Optometry admits 100 students annually to their Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) program offering a combined graduate degree in Doctor of Optometry/Doctor of Philosophy (O.D./Ph.D.) or a Master of Science (M.S.) degree.
The white coat ceremony was live-streamed via the college’s website.