The Zoom screen slowly began to populate as Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry Class of 2020 graduates joined the ceremony. They waved to each in their caps and gowns, socially distanced but bonded by four years of memories.

WesternU’s College of Optometry held its virtual graduation event on May 14, 2020. “Pomp and Circumstance” played as each graduate’s photo and a quote appeared on screen.

College of Optometry graduate Grace Lam, OD ’20, wrote, “This milestone is the result of not only my efforts for the past 4 years but the efforts and brilliant minds of many doctors and staff, the unconditional love and support from my beloved family and friends, and the camaraderie amongst my colleagues. Thank you for believing in me and for being with me throughout this journey. More adventures to come.”

WesternU College of Optometry Class of 2020 graduates celebrate the conclusion of their graduation ceremony.

WesternU College of Optometry Class of 2020 graduates celebrate the conclusion of their graduation ceremony.

Faculty members read each graduate’s name as their photo and list of accomplishments appeared on screen. The event closed with a slideshow of the class performing vision screenings, studying in breakout rooms and bonding at sporting events, concerts and other activities.

College of Optometry Founding Dean Elizabeth Hoppe, OD, MPH, DrPH, said the graduates’ journey to becoming exceptional doctors has been one of the most complicated journeys in the history of the profession.

“In these complicated times, my charge to you is simple. Learn from this and grow,” Hoppe said. “You are now full-fledged health care professionals responsible for serving and caring for your patients. Leave behind your uncertainties, your insecurities, and your self-doubt. Learn from your time as a student and grow.”

Hoppe also encouraged graduates to strive in every patient encounter to practice what they have learned to their fullest scope and fullest capabilities.

“Make sure that your patients’ needs are met and that you have helped them along their journey towards health and improved quality of life,” she said. “Ensure that you have made a difference for your patients in such a way that you learn from each other and grow. Congratulations as you embark upon the next phase of your journey full of lifelong learning and lifelong growing.”

Screenshot of WesternU College of Optometry Class of 2020 graduates listening to Dean Elizabeth Hoppe's Charge.

WesternU College of Optometry Class of 2020 graduates listen to Dean Elizabeth Hoppe’s Charge.