AOA InfantSEE Event at UIWRSO

Dr. Wingert, Mrs. Benne, Dr. Steele
Dr. Wingert, Mrs. Benne, Dr. Steele

On Friday, Sept. 26 at 6:00 pm, UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry hosted an AOA InfantSEE Event in the UIW Rosenberg Sky Room. Dr. Maki, UIWRSO Professor, and Mrs. Benne, UIWRSO Assistant Dean, have worked hard to plan a wonderful evening with Dr. Steele and Tom Sullivan. The purpose of this event was to raise awareness for InfantSEE:

InfantSEE®, a public health program, managed by Optometry Cares® – the AOA Foundation, is designed to ensure that eye and vision care becomes an essential part of infant wellness care to improve a child’s quality of life. Under this program, participating optometrists provide a comprehensive infant eye assessment between 6 and 12 months of age as a no-cost public service.  Read more about InfantSEE here.

Dr. Wingert started off the event with the Dean’s Welcome and left the crowd wanting to hear more about the program. He then passed the microphone to Dr. Steele, AKA Dr. Bubba of Southern College of Optometry (SCO). Dr. Steele’s lecture presentation almost reminded me of class. I really liked how he used case examples of  how an optometrist helped the pediatric patients via the InfantSEE program, in fact, we learned of how the program saved lives. Dr. Glen Steele, OD, FCOVD, FAAO is the current chair of the AOA’s InfantSEE program; his passion for raising awareness is so strong that he travels to multiple optometry school to speak about the InfantSEE program. With his strong educational background and southern humor, I truly enjoyed his message and took it to heart.

After Dr. Steele gave a warm introduction to InfantSEE, he brought Tom Sullivan on stage. He was blind since shortly after birth, but Tom

Mr. Tom Sullivan
Mr. Tom Sullivan

is an award winning actor, author and composer dedicated to spreading a message of hope and inspiration for overcoming adversity. He created a hilarious motivational program for the optometry students or as he calls us “Young Future Doctors;” He taught as to nurture our passion for optometry and the importance of public health initiatives such as the InfantSEE program. Mr. Sullivan shared his childhood, his ups and downs, but what I took away most was understanding the stigma that a blind person faces everyday. I went into optometry wanting to help people with their vision, but it wasn’t until this night that I understood the amount of impact that a pediatric eye exam can have. I was motivated and the passion he brought to stage resonated with the audience as they roared with laughter or listened in silence. Never have a heard a speaker, sing, cry, scream, and educate so well; It was an unforgettable night!

The event ended with a dessert reception. Dr. Steele and Mr. Tom Sullivan walked around the reception to talk to the students and faculty of UIWRSO. It was a great event that was made possible by UIWRSO in collaboration with Allergan and the AOA (American Optometric Association).

The Private Practice Club Symposium

Symposium PPC SignageRecently, the Private Practice Club (PPC) at UIWRSO hosted the first ever “Modes of Optometric Practice” Symposium. I invited doctors from various modes of Optometric Practice to come sit on a panel for the students in order to educate interns about the variety in practice styles one can pursue and to introduce the interns to the pros and cons of the different modes of practices. Th symposium started with a full course luncheon sponsored by Walmart and Sam’s Club, then came a series of mini speaker bios, a panel, and ended with small group discussions with individual speakers. You can view the slides here.


  • Drs. Nevelow, OD (PRIVATE PRACTICE)
  • Dr. Monica Allison, OD (Texas Optometric Association)
  • Dr. Sharon Early, PharmD (WALMART)
  • Dr. Sharp, OD (GROUP PRACTICE)
  • Dr. Graciela Sable, OD (CORPORATE PRACTICE)
  • Dr. Garcia, OD (EDUCATOR, UIWRSO PPC Faculty Advisor)


  • 12:30 PM PPC Student Officers – INTRODUCTIONS
  • 12:35 PM Dr. Early, Walmart Regional Talent Specialist
  • 1:40 PM Q&A PANEL
  • MODERATORS: Intern Susan Ly/Dr. Garcia
  • 2:50 PM END

The Panel was especially interesting to the students because we asked attendees to send us their questions to ask the panelists. The PPC officers took the questions and condensed it to 3 comprehensive panel questions:

  1.       What benefit(s) did you foresee that helped persuade you to choose the mode of practice you chose? Did those benefits materialize? In your mode of practice, what would you wish was different?
  2.       What abilities or leadership skills do you wish you had developed very early in your career? What do you know now, you wish you had been aware of then?
  3.       What are you looking for when you are hiring a new/young practitioner? What makes them a competitive applicant? What would prompt you to consider an associate? How would you envision integrating an associate into your practice?

Dr. Garcia, the moderator of the panel, also opened the panel to the audience giving them a chance to ask more questions.

The last portion of this event was the small group discussions. A speaker would join a roundtable of students and they would talk about anything that they want. I overheard students asking about “balancing work and personal life”, “best way to generate income”, and more!

All in all this event was a great success! As the President of the Private Practice Club, I received a lot of positive feedback, from the speakers and students. I hope the attendees were able to take away knowledge of the flexibility and recognition of the variety in this profession!



The Challenge was on! The University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) had nominated University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry to complete the ALS ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE! I was amazed at how fast interns accepted the challenged to support the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (ALSA), whose mission is “Leading the fight to treat and cure ALS through global research and nationwide advocacy while also empowering people with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support.”  Further, I was excited how this challenge galvanized the RSO family.

Cara Sczepanski, President of the UIWRSO Student Government Association (SGA) encouraged interns and faculty to join in on the cause with this tempting email:

Hello RSO students and Faculty,

As some of you know the University of Houston College of Optometry has called us out for the ALS ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE. We will gladly accept their challenge, and rally to have even a BIGGER turnout for our school. We plan to have RSO’s Bucket challenge this FRIDAY (September 5th), at 12:30PM. Please come support a good cause as well as represent our school! We will be challenging Dean Buzzelli and Pike School of Optometry as well as all Texas Pre-Optometry clubs to raise the challenge.

When: Friday, September 5th at 12:30 PM
Who: First years, Second years, Third years, 4th years, and even Professors and Staff!
Where: In front of our Data Point main entrance with the large “ROSENBERG SCHOOL OF OPTOMETRY” sign
What to bring: A bucket, we will provide the water and ice

Click the link below to learn more about ALS and donate to the ALS Association.

Thank you,

Cara Sczepanski
SGA President 2014-2015
UIWRSO Class of 2016


On Friday afternoon, the ice machines buzzed as the students emptied them out! Buckets in all sizes were stacking up high; from a face wash bin to a 15 gallon container. More students thought of fun ways to encourage students to participate in the challenge! How, you may ask? The College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) club at RSO joined in with a fundraiser by raffling off a chance to dump ice water on one of the faculty members. A few of our brave and amazing RSO faculty have generously volunteered themselves to support this cause, Dr. Wong-Powell, Dr. Wingert, Dr. Sandberg, Dr. Coates, Dr. Tison, Dr. Maki, Dr. Niklas, and Dr. Garcia.

The event was a success and I had the pleasure of taking the pictures below! I will not forget this Friday afternoon that was full of laughter and warm towels.