KYCO honors members of the Class of 2025 at traditional White Coat Ceremony

The Kentucky College of Optometry (KYCO) held its traditional White Coat Ceremony on Saturday, April 1, in the Health Professions Education Building. Fifty-nine members of the Class of 2025 received their white coats before a gathering of family, friends and university faculty.

KYCO Dean Michael Bacigalupi, O.D., M.S., FAAO, FNAP, welcomed guests and acknowledged the significance of the event. 

“Today is our opportunity to mark your transition from optometry student to clinical optometry student and recognize you for reaching this milestone,” said Bacigalupi. “The Class of 2025 is very special to KYCO because they entered the college during a very uncertain time during the pandemic. This class stayed the course through all the challenges and showed excellent determination to succeed.”

The White Coat Ceremony is an important first step in the career of a future optometrist, serving as a rite of passage for health professional schools around the country. On Saturday afternoon, the Class of 2025 committed to patient care and their future by reciting the KYCO Professional Conduct Pledge and donning the white coat. 

Delivering the keynote address for the ceremony was Michelle Cooper, O.D. Cooper has been a practicing optometrist for 29 years in Greenville, S.C. She has served in various professional leadership positions, including president of the Piedmont Optometric Society, secretary-treasurer, and president of the South Carolina Optometric Association. She has also served on the board of trustees at the Southern Educational Congress of Optometrists. 

Cooper addressed the students about the symbolism of the white coat and encouraged them to keep moving the optometry profession forward.

“The white coat symbolizes professionalism, caring and trust. You are all fortunate to be attending optometry school during this time in our history where you have access to all the latest technology,” said Cooper. “As optometry continues to evolve, it will be imperative that you continue to learn while building on the knowledge you have gained at KYCO. Have faith in your training, your education and most importantly yourself.”