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Summer 2023

ICO Commencement 2023


Nora Matland

On Saturday, May 20, ICO’s 180th Commencement took place at Chicago Symphony Center. Degrees were conferred upon 118 new Doctors of Optometry. 

Commencement week is always an exciting week and a cause for celebration. When asked what the Class of 2023 was proudest of, over and over again, the answer was, "We made it through, and we made it through as a class."

There was also a sense of disbelief that it was all over so quickly. "It feels surreal. The past few years flew by." "Sometimes we never thought we would get here," they said, "It feels like the end of a journey. I feel capable, but nervous."

"We've been through thick and thin together. Even when times get tough, we're all there for one another," said Paul Eros, OD ’23. The support systems that exist at ICO are hard to replicate, and it's something that every graduate commented on in their interviews. The other was their own growth, “I can see how much more confident I am as a doctor. I'm just so ready to help people,” said Irene Zaman, OD ’23.

The Class of 2023 was only seven months into their optometric education when the pandemic hit. That meant that much of their optometric education was conducted remotely. This year's commencement speaker Janis Jurkus, OD ’74 commented on this, "The Class endured over 597 lecture hours and 161 quizzes and finals remotely. In the clinic, as a group, the Class of 2023 completed over 180,000 patient encounters."

Dr. Jurkus was also asked to reflect on how optometry has changed. She put particular emphasis on how many women have joined the profession. "When I graduated, I was the only woman who graduated in a class of 138 students. There were five women in the whole school." This year's graduating class is almost 70% female. Dr. Jurkus added,  "Just this year, there are now 50% men and 50% women in the field of optometry."

Perhaps the most memorable aspect of this graduation was the overwhelming joy with which the attendees welcomed in the Class of 2023. The audience shouted out graduates' names and cheered for two minutes straight, ending with a standing ovation. "I have to tell you, I've been doing commencements for 35 years. We've had some great celebrations, but you just pushed us over the top with that one. Thank you all," said Dr. Mark K. Colip as he ended the ceremony.

Congratulations, doctors. You’ve been through a lot to get here, and we know that your future will be bright.

For those interested in reliving the day, make sure to check out our graduation video. Congratulations again, doctors!

John Baker, OD, carrying the presidential mace led the processional.  


ICO President Mark Colip, OD ’92, addresses the Class of 2023. 


Raman Bhakhri, OD, administers the optometric oath. 


Casey Hogan, OD ’97, President of the Alumni Council,

welcomes the class to the Alumni Association. 


Download over 300 photos on ICO's Flickr page.


Janis Jurkus, OD ’74 delivers ICO’s 180th commencement address


Dean Stephanie Messner, OD, recognizes Chloe Bainbridge, OD ’23 as this year's valedictorian.


Brigitte Cianfrone, OD ’23
snaps a group photo. 


ICO's Graduate and Faculty Chorus sing the Alma Mater.


Rewatch Commencements livestream on ICO's

You Tube Channel.

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