While our students come from diverse backgrounds and are pursuing degrees in different fields, the one thing that they all have in common is that they end up here at Salus. We wanted to feature a few of our student ambassadors about their experience transitioning into graduate school because everyone’s got a unique Salus story.

This is the final chapter of a three-part series, featuring:

Rachelle YangRachelle Yang
  • Second-year Optometry student
  • From Naperville, Illinois
  • Undergrad at University of Wisconsin, Madison 

Katie VangKatie Vang
  • Second-year Optometry student
  • From Hickory, North Carolina
  • Undergrad at East Carolina University 

Lauren FuricchiaLauren Furicchia
  • Third-year Optometry student
  • From Miami, Florida
  • Undergrad at Florida International University and Northern Arizona University

Q: As student ambassadors, do you feel like you get a slightly different Salus experience as an ambassador?

Lauren: I think that we definitely do. Since I’ve become an ambassador, I have gotten a lot closer to professors, and I’ve noticed that that really does help. I will have professors see me in the hallway and ask me how I am doing and mention different things that I should get involved in. It really helps if you are confused on something in class, you’re not as scared to go up to them in class because they know you and they almost become one of your friends, the way they talk to you. I also think it has helped bring me out of my comfort zone. I was really shy in undergrad, I didn’t reach out to very many people. I wasn’t involved in school. Being an ambassador, it helps you build that confidence with communication. You also get to go to a lot of events that other students can’t go to. You get to go to the Centennial Gala, where a normal ticket is $200, you get to go and work there for free and so it’s really nice, and it does count as work study, which is a great. So it does help with communication, getting to know the school better. It helps you give back because the school gives you so much, it helps you give back to it.

Q: So obviously, your first semester in grad school can be very overwhelming if you’re moving to a new location, you’re in a whole new program, you don’t really have a support system. So if you could redo your first semester here at Salus, would you do anything differently?

Katie: I would probably study earlier and find my studying habits earlier. Coming in, that was really challenging, learning how to stay on top of the game, and trying not to fall behind in your lectures. I think that was one thing I would do differently, if I had the chance to go back and repeat my first year. To learn how to study and learn how to study effectively.

Rachelle: I would agree with that as well. I feel like I’m still trying to figure out what is the best way for me to study because different classes, I study in different ways. So I think just reflecting upon after, whether or not, you did well on the first exam or not, going back to your notes and seeing what worked and what didn’t. And again just getting help early and not falling behind and trying to go to classes.

Lauren: For me, if I could redo my first semester, I would study earlier, and use long weekends as time to catch up, not as time to go out and do things. The other thing I would say is not rely so much on the note taking service. We do have a service where students in the class will take notes and you can purchase notes from the service and so you’re given notes for the class. First semester, I relied mainly on those notes, I didn’t take my own notes. And while the notes are great and they help, sometimes there are things that they miss, because they are human. I think that after my first semester, I realized it is good to take your own notes and use that supplementally. Don’t just rely on the notes or think that you don’t have to go to class or listen to the lectures and you can just study from someone else’s notes. That doesn’t always work.

Q: That was all great advice, but do you guys have anything else you’d like to share with new   incoming students, about anything?

Katie: Just enjoy your time. It’s a four year experience, you’re not here to constantly study. You’re here to learn about the field. Just be open to it and just enjoy it. I always tell my siblings, it’s kind of like a rollercoaster, you have to enjoy it when you can and buckle down and study when you need to. And don’t be too harsh on yourself.

Lauren: Don’t overstress. I know it seems overwhelming like “where am I going to live, what am I going to do?” The school will email you what you need when you need that information so don’t freak out about anything, just come relaxed and they will give you everything on time. A lot of people, one of the questions they ask are, “do I need to read textbooks before I start school?” No, you don’t need to do any of that, just show up for orientation and they will give you everything that you need.

Rachelle: I would also say to get involved too. I know you can get so caught up in just trying to do well in school, that you forget that it’s good to be involved and see what the school has to offer. There’s so many opportunities at Salus and you’ll be able to meet new people and collaborate with others. So I would say that that is really important.

Q: Do you guys find that you work a lot with other programs at all, at any time? As student ambassadors you get out of your program a little bit more than others.

Rachelle: For sure, I think so.

Lauren: As ambassadors you do, but if you’re a regular student at the school, there is a class you take in your first year, where you are paired up with one or two other students per program and you make a powerpoint presentation. But after that, there are no other classes where you are really interacting with them. They take similar classes, but not with the same professor. So as an ambassador you get an advantage because you get to interact with other students and see how heir program works and what they offer and it really helps broaden your horizon.