Eye on Education

Fighting Spirit: Optometry Student Overcomes Adversity to Graduate

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For many, making it through graduate school is a feat on its own; but for Kelly Morse, OD ’19 it is truly exceptional. That’s because during her third year at Salus University’s Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO), Dr. Morse had to fight her way back from being paralyzed, in order to reach her dream of becoming an optometrist.

What initially felt like flu symptoms, quickly turned into paralysis from the nose down. After rounds of medical tests, the consensus was that it was some kind of virus, most likely mosquito-borne. As she started to make progress in her recovery, Morse was able to take classes remotely until finally returning to Salus/PCO with the determination to finish her degree.

According to Dr. Morse, people tell her all the time about how impressed they are that she went back to school to finish. “For me, it was never an option not to,” she said. “That is what I’ve wanted to do since third grade.”

Upon her return to campus and The Eye Institute, Dr. Morse faced a new set of challenges when the optometric equipment in the exam rooms were not fully wheelchair accessible. Right away, the team of faculty and staff found ways to help Dr. Morse such as adding a string to the overhead light on exam equipment and a handle to adjust the patients chair rather than a foot pedal.

On May 23, Dr. Morse accomplished her lifelong dream of becoming an optometrist. With a new found appreciation for living one day at a time, Morse looks forward to what the future will hold. “We all have challenges of different magnitudes at different times in our lives, and this was mine,” Dr. Morse said. “I’ve overcome a lot, but I’m not done yet.”


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