AAO Pinning Ceremony at UIWRSO!

The American Academy of Optometry (AAO) Student chapter at the Rosenberg School of Optometry (RSO) held their Annual Student Fellowship Pinning Ceremony. During this past AAO national meeting in Denver, Colorado, 26 students from the RSO received their Student Fellowship. This is a record amount at RSO and we are excited to have so many students interested in learning. The Academy’s annual meeting provides the highest quality continuing education and the most current vision science research, which includes nearly 300 hours of Lectures & Workshops, symposia, and scientific lecture and poster presentations over 4 days. The students loved the experience and best of all, thought the Academy was so much FUN!

The AAO has a special program for students to go through in order to receive the title of student fellow. After the requirements are fulfilled, the student is awarded an AAO pin at the school’s pinning ceremony. Each student completed a series of continuing education courses, symposiums, poster sessions, and paper presentations throughout the weekend, as well as representing RSO at the AAO national meeting.

The following students were recognized for this year at the pinning ceremony:
Amanda Achilles, Amy Belloli, Samantha Bohl, Timothy Bradshaw, Alicia Chacon, Wiliam Cluff, Amy Cuevas, Caroline Dang, Minati Desai, Sheyda Durig, Amanda Estrada, Kimberly Kim, Kyler Knobbe, Daniel Lam, Paul Lau, Denisse Lopez, Susan Ly, Jason Ngo, Jenny Nguyen, Monali Patel, Lisa Prejean, Ashley Pylant, Jennifer Ramey, Rebecca Sheeder, Anthony Vanrachack, and Beatriz Villegas.

Guest speakers included Dr. Valdes, an RSO professor who recently earned AAO Fellowship or F.A.A.O., and Mr. Terry Peterson of Zeiss. Both gave amazing speeches and the students enjoyed a delicious dessert reception sponsored by Zeiss.

Lastly, the event was put together by the AAO student chapter officers:
Ashley Pylant – President
Susan Ly – Vice President
Linh Nguyen – Secretary
Minati Desai – Treasurer
Faculty Advisor – Dr. Rick Trevino

The American Academy of Optometry 2014

UIWRSO Group Picture at AAO 2014!
UIWRSO Group Picture at AAO 2014!


When I stepped off the plane in Denver, Colorado, I turned to my classmate, Alicia Chacon, and asked “why would they have a convention in such a cold place?” Our phones alerted us that it will be -9 degrees Fahrenheit tonight and I felt my toes turn numb. Coming from San Antonio, Texas, we were definitely taken by surprised. However I probably spent only a total of 20 minutes outside in the beautiful flurry of snow and learned a life-long lesson.

The University of the Incarnate Word, Rosenberg School of Optometry had over two dozen students in attendance at the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), 2014. Last year there were over 300 students from across the nation, but this year Academy reported over 1000 students in attendance, the largest in attendance ever! Our school definitely has a huge emphasis in optometric research. This year our local chapter of AAO, led by student intern, Ashley Plyant, did an amazing job educating students about the importance of supporting Optometric Research and rallying a group of students to attend the Academy. As a result, we had more UIWRSO students than ever attend.

A handful of students who participated in optometric research were very excited to see their abstracts accepted into the Academy. I am a student researcher who is just learning the research process: from forming the hypothesis, to data collection, to presenting, and publishing. The concept of research was once so confusing, but now has become so clear thanks to the Academy. The summation of our research teams’ work is now shared with an audience of doctors who are curious, questioning, and learning. Dr. Trevino presented our research results in an interesting, clear and concise manner, that it kept the audience on their toes. When I sat in the rooms of the Academy, I learned so much, the education provided in optometry school is just the basics, there are optometric scientists always striving to to find better and better ways to care for their patients from innovation to new discoveries.

10270464_372776716215512_5067311626676979005_nOn Thursday night, UIWRSO hosted an Academy Networking Reception. Our Dean, Dr. Wingert sat in the front to welcome us to the reception with some food and drinks. I was so glad that I came because I saw faces of my TAs from first year, the rest of class of 2013 and 2014! The class of 2013 and 2014 were the first two classes to graduate from UIWRSO. They were an amazing bunch who pioneered through the program and helped to contribute to the way our school runs today. The interns, now doctors, started most of the school organizations and laid the foundation for how active our school is today. I have much respect for them and I’m really glad that they came out to this networking reception! In fact, a great amount of our graduates went on to pursue a residency; so they came back telling the students about their experiences. My classmates had a great time talking to the recent graduates, the resident, and the our faculty that came out that night.

Most of the students wanted to obtain their student fellowship at the Academy. The requirements are as follows: 4 hours of Continuing Education, 2 hours of attending paper presentations, 2 hours of attending poster presentations, a symposium on a specific topic such as Low Vision or Glaucoma, and various students meetings such as the AAO business meeting, the student networking lunch, and more. You can learn more from: (http://www.aaopt.org/students/fellowship).  It sounds like a lot right? The reason that the Academy has launched this exciting new Student Fellowship program is to encourage students to experience the entire meeting, hoping that it will stimulate improved integration of all of the opportunities offered at the meeting, encourage future involvement, and persuade students to become Fellows upon graduation. I really enjoyed picking the CEs that interested me and because the Academy was able to offer so many courses, some of my classmates were able to complete the requirements in two days. I truly enjoyed my experience at the Academy and I would love to come back again and again!

Faculty Achieve Professional Milestone at Academy

The UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry reached another milestone this October at the American Academy of Optometry’s annual meeting in Seattle, WA.  It was announced that three faculty members at RSO were accepted as Fellows into the Academy.  The three new Academy fellows were announced as: Dr. Chandra Mickles, Dr. Kyle Sandberg, and Dr. Matt Valdes.

Dr. Chandra Mickles, O.D., M.S.
Dr. Chandra Mickles, O.D., M.S.
Dr. Kyle Sandberg O.D.
Dr. Kyle Sandberg O.D.
Dr. Matt Sin Valdes O.D.
Dr. Matt Sin Valdes O.D.








These individuals successfully completed the rigorous process of obtaining Academy Fellowship by preparing Patient Case Reports that each doctor has personally examined and treated.  “I had to prepare 2 case studies (one paper and 1 poster).  I also presented a poster on a pediatric vision screening study that I conducted.  The Academy requires that a total of 50 points are accumulated in order to be eligible for Fellowship.  In my case, I received 20 for completing a residency, 10 for each case report and 10 for the study poster,” Dr. Kyle Sandberg explained.

These reports are peer reviewed by the Admissions Committee for quality and standard of care.  If the doctor passes this portion of the examination process, they are invited to the annual meeting where they undergo a comprehensive oral examination.

As Dr. Sandra Mickles describes, “I qualified to sit for the oral examination through submitting one case report, two scientific posters based on my research, and my residency credentials.  There was a panel of the three optometrists that examined me orally, based on my credentials and written work submitted for earning the fellowship.”

Drs. Mickles, Sandberg and Valdes have reflected great credit upon themselves and the entire University of the Incarnate Word community.  “Fellowship means a great deal to me, personally and professionally.  Working in a teaching institution, it is imperative our students and patients know we strive to provide the highest level of patient care.  Despite the time and effort required for fellowship, it’s encouraging to know I’m helping support RSO’s culture of excellence,” said Dr. Matt Valdes.

They have achieved a professional milestone which only a small number of the optometrists around the world have succeeded at doing.  We congratulate them and thank them for their hard work and dedication to the profession.

American Academy of Optometry Annual Meeting

I attended the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ, at the end of October.

I received a travel grant from HOYA, and two of my classmates also received student travel fellowships to attend the meeting.  There are so many opportunities to apply for travel grants to all of the different meetings and conventions so everyone should definitely take advantage of them!

The meeting was an amazing experience.  My classmates and I completed all of the requirements for Student Fellowship at the meeting, and we are now all Student Fellows!

As a Student Fellow, I received a Student Fellow lapel pin, will receive free student registration to the next AAO Annual Meeting, and will receive waived dues for the Candidacy for Fellowship application during my year of graduation.

Although I had to complete all of the requirements for Student Fellowship, there was still plenty of time to do other things.

I was able to explore Phoenix and the Grand Canyon!  There were also many RSO faculty and student presenters, and it was inspiring to view their posters and hear them present their research.

I was definitely proud of all of my fellow optometry students, and I’m looking forward to attending the meeting again next year in Seattle, WA!