Student Life

Reflections from a SCCO Faculty Mentor

SCCO invests itself in its students’ success! As incoming students go through the matriculation process, not only do admissions advisers help with the process but also support services offered through the Office of Student Affairs helps every student make the transition into professional grad school a successful one…

SCCO’s Faculty Mentoring and Advising Program is implemented through MBKU’s Student Achievement Center.  The program’s goal is to reinforce academic excellence and to provide advice to students on academic, professional and personal matters to foster professional growth. As part of this program, every incoming MBKU student is assigned a faculty advisor.

This blog article was written by Dr. Carmen Barnhardt, Vice President of Student Affairs, who serves as a faculty mentor for six incoming SCCO students. She provides a closer and more personal look at what it means to her and students by her service in this role.

Square crop_Barnhardt Carmen-2018-369-736By Carmen Barnhardt, OD, MSEd, Vice President of Student Affairs, MBKU

We are just wrapping up the 2nd week of fall quarter, and I finished meeting with all of my advisees. I always enjoy meeting with students, especially when we make time to meet individually, in person. It is always fun for me to hear their stories about their journey to optometry. Some discover this great profession through a process of elimination (that is my story!) and some “knew all along” that they wanted to be an optometrist. I find their stories fascinating and it makes me fall in love with optometry all over again. When I am advising students, I remind them to remember their reasons for signing up for this rigorous program because it will fuel their motivation when things get tough.

I am fascinated with the neuroscience of learning and always enjoy brainstorming with students about ways for them to be more efficient at their studying and to make sure the information “sticks” because, of course, they will need it year after year in school and in practice. I appreciate how SCCO intentionally makes the 1st year fall quarter very manageable. I encourage new students to use this time to experiment with their study strategies. For example, just because they weren’t a group-studier in undergrad doesn’t mean they should also dismiss this format it in optometry school. The only way to get better at anything is to try new things!

We also talk about the “other stuff” that goes on during school. I am referring to the social aspect of being on a university campus. Are they making connections? Are they joining student clubs and professional organizations? Of course, these things are fun, but I would argue they are also essential. The friends they make in optometry school become their colleagues in their professional careers. The clubs and organizations they join as students will become the professional organizations they join in their profession. Study after study tells us that engaged students are happy students and more likely to persist. Equally important is that engaged employees are more fulfilled with their work and have a greater sense of well-being. We talk about stepping outside their comfort zone to push them to the next level in both their personal enrichment and professional development. We never stop growing!

The real reason for the Faculty Mentoring and Advising Program at SCCO to make sure every single student knows they have some in their corner, someone who has their back. We will help each student navigate challenging moments in school, whether it is a personal problem or academic issue that causes the challenge. We will advise and mentor our students to become the best optometrists in the county and we will advocate for their needs and also share and celebrate all the victories along the way.

While our advising model is formal in its structure is the best way we know to make sure each student has someone who is looking out for them!

As chief facilitator for this program, I’d like to give a shout-out to this 2017-18 school year’s participating Faculty Mentors:

Dr. Barnhardt is from North Dakota and a 1995 alumna of SCCO. She has been a faculty member for over 20 years and currently serves in the position of VP of Student Affairs. She loves her family, her dogs, traveling and her new hot tub.


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