First RSO student appointed a National Liaison Position with AOSA


I applied to be a national liaison (NL) because I wanted to be more involved with the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA). A national liaison represents an allied association within the AOSA, much like how the American Optometric Association (AOA) has members for their allied optometric association. An allied association may focus on a specialty like sports vision, InfantSEE program, optometry in public health, etc.

It was an exciting moment when I got the email from the AOSA President 2015-6, Hunter Chapman, saying that I was selected for the student national liaison for the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). In fact, I was the first person from RSO to be selected for a NL position. This year only 15 students were selected from the nationwide optometry student applicant pool to be liaisons of: ASCO, AAO, APHA, NBEO, COVD, OEP, CLS, and etc. Read more about NLs and their respective allied organizations here:

I would also like to talk about the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO). Prior to my position, I had no idea that this organization was in charge of the Optometry Admission Test (OAT) among other things. ASCO  is the academic leadership organization committed to promoting, advancing and achieving excellence in optometric education. ASCO represents all accredited schools and colleges of optometry in the fifty states and Puerto Rico. ASCO’s affiliate members include the Canadian schools of optometry, other foreign schools, allied organizations, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. ASCO’s activities also cover a wide range of programs including applicant development and diversity, faculty and executive development, advocacy, residency promotion, data development and communications. Since joining in on ASCO’s meeting, I have discovered how broad optometry education really is. Please read more about ASCO 0n their website:

RSO gives a 1 week break in the summer so that students can go to Optometry’s Meeting. This year Optometry’s Meeting took place in Seattle, Washington. I knew that our school has always supported RSO students who engaged in extracurricular activities. However, our Dean, Dr. Wingert, also actively partakes in leadership roles. It was no surprise that he was the current chair of the ASCO Student Affairs Committee. The members of ASCO include the optometry school Deans and Presidents, who meet a few times a year via phone conference call, emails, and/or in person at big meetings such as Optometry’s Meeting to discuss the long list of ASCO activities listed above. Deans can also run for leadership positions within the different committees in ASCO. During this meeting each committee leader would present their updates and progress of their group. I had the honor to present to all the Deans about AOSA. I won’t lie, it was nerve racking. However after the presentation I received warm comments from Dr. Wingert (RSO Dean) and Dr. Buzzelli (Past RSO Dean, Current Dean of the University of Pikeville, College of Optometry).

Deans convene in ASCO meeting!
Deans convene in ASCO meeting!


I would also like to congratulate Mr. Marty Wall, MPA, CAE and ASCO outgoing-Executive Director for his many years of service. It was a pleasure to meet such a wonderful person and great leader.

A luncheon was held in honor of Mr. Wall's service to ASCO and the field of optometry!
A luncheon was held in honor of Mr. Wall’s service to ASCO and the field of optometry at OM15!



The AOA (American Optometric Association) is one of the most important organizations an optometrist can join in their lives. AOA advocates for the rights of optometrists throughout the country in their scope of practice, use of prescription drugs, etc. Many UIWRSO students participate in this organization through AOSA (American Optometric Student Association). Here, students are able to see how important it is to get involved in the law aspect of optometry. Our school’s AOSA chapter was able to hold a special presentation with one of the top officers for the AOA, Dr. Andrea Thau.

Dr. Andrea Thau was elected to the Board of Trustees of AOA in 2007. She currently has a practice and is an associate clinical professor at SUNY State College of Optometry. She is a founder of the AOA’s InfantSEE program and has served as the first woman president of the New York State Optometric Association, the New York Academy of Optometry, and the Optometric Society of the City of New York. She has lectured and appeared on national TV, radio, and print, spreading word about eye and vision care. UIWRSO was privileged enough to hear what Dr. Thau had to say about the AOA and our involvement in the organization as upcoming optometrists.

Dr. Thau emphasized that our future involvement in AOA is critical. She owns a practice, has a family, but still manages to be a board member of AOA. This involves hours and hours of time, travel, and presentations, not to mention being able to sit before Congress and fight for our rights as optometrists. She said that she is a second generation optometrist; her father really inspired her to love and fight for her profession.

She gave us a idea of what it would be like without the AOA: the potential exists that we could lose all our rights to being called a doctor, other professions might be able to prescribe and undermine our work, online companies might be able to dispense without a prescription, etc. This would all spell out bad news for our future as optometrists. Other professionals are battling everyday to get the rights we have taken away and AOA is there to fight back.

She also mentioned how AOA members work with politicians and support them to help get laws passed for optometrists. Using the TOA (Texas Optometric Association) or AOA will help future doctors if they have aspirations for holding office. She also talked about how doctors who are AOA members make an average of $22,000 more than those who aren’t members. This might have something to do with the fact that they help first-year doctors with malpractice insurance, life insurance, and even pay for your AOA fees during your first year out of school. Additionally, Dr. Thau showed us a video clip of how many people AOA reaches a year through it’s use of media.

Before watching this presentation, I was not an AOSA member. After attending the meeting, however, it has inspired me to not only become a member, but stay a member and perhaps run for the Board of Trustees at some point. Like Dr. Thau said, it’s not only our right, but it is our duty to continue the fight for optometry and the future optometrists of America.

To learn more about what the AOA is doing for optometry right now, check out their website:

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A special thank you to Dr. Narayanan for providing the following pictures: 

AOA 20


AOA 21

Student’s Role in the Texas Optometric Association

How TOA helped developed my networking and leadership skills

2014-2015 Texas Optometric Association Executive Committee and Board of Trustees
2014-2015 Texas Optometric Association Executive Committee and Board of Trustees. (Left: Dr. Valdez and Dr. Fortenberry are UIWRSO Faculty)

My political optometry involvement grows concurrently with my public health efforts. I am drawn to the legislative side of optometry because many life changing vision programs like the InfantSEE® program was established due to optometrists lobbying and networking with state representatives and senators.

I’ve been to multiple optometry board meetings with the Texas Optometric Association (TOA) and I would like to explain the organization of the optometric societies in America. Every state has a board that represents all the optometrist residing in that state. The board may include optometrists, public health advocates, administrators, accountants, membership directors, etc; together the board runs the association with or without dues from participating/supporting optometrists in the state. These optometric associations are formed to ensure that those who have earned the title of Doctor of Optometry have the opportunity to practice their profession to the fullest extent possible.

Many optometry students do timeline aoanot realize that the state optometric associations and the American Optometric Association (AOA) are closely connected. AOA board members will visit and sit in on the state meetings while state associations presidents gather at least twice a year at the Optometry’s Meeting or the Presidents’ Council Meeting. Also the student optometric associations at each school can support the state associations by encouraging students to lobby or educate fellow students about the laws that the state is trying to pass, as well as donate or pay dues to support their cause. Optometry students often join the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) and in doing so they are also supporting and a member of their state student optometric association. Before my experiences with the TOA, I had no idea that there is such an organized network that keeps our profession strong. If you would like to read more about the history of optometry please click here for a timeline.


I am an officer of the Student Texas Optometric Association (STOA) because I want to take an active part in the political association that opens doors for optometrists as well as improves the visual welfare of the people. Jason Ngo (President, STOA) and me (Treasurer/Secretary) are invited to the Texas Optometric Association board meetings to keep up to date about what the TOA board is planning and learned of their successes or what needs to be changed. I was impressed by the leadership and organization that they possessed; they are encouraging and positive when discussing their agenda and I can feel how their camaraderie fuels the team’s success! The board also taught me the importance of networking with other leaders. The board members would introduce themselves to us, and I’m grateful because I was really nervous at my first board meeting. I appreciate this opportunity to learn from these leaders. I would also like to mention that any optometry student in Texas can attend these board meetings if they let their STOA officers know in advance. I hope that optometry students can take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

The Texas Optometric Association (TOA) mission statement: “Doctors of Optometry working together to advance excellence in eyecare for every Texan.” To show our support, the UIWRSO STOA created hoodies that incorporates the TOA mission statement.

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Public Health and Optometry

Teaching children about the body systems and how to keep healthy!
Susan Ly, UIWRSO 2016, teaching children about the body systems and how to keep healthy!

During my undergraduate career, I was part of the Pathway for Students into Health Professions (PSHP) program, which provided career development and mentoring to undergraduates who are considering careers in the health professions.  This includes students pursuing careers in medicine, dentistry, nursing, public health, social work, and other professions in the social/human services. Optometry wasn’t even listed under the description of a health profession under this scholarship, but they still admitted me!  The program has a strong emphasis on public service to mothers, children, and families, which confirmed my desire to go into pediatric optometry. PSHP is administered by the Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities, which is affiliated with the UCLA School of Public Health and School of Medicine. It was enriching to participate  in graduate level public health courses and since then, I knew I wanted to learn more by obtaining an Master of Public Health (MPH).

Samantha Bohl, UIWRSO 2016, taking a picture with children from Sierra Leone Mission Trip in Africa!

While applying to optometry school, I wanted to attend a school that carried the same public health mission that I had in mind; much like the American Public Health Association (APHA)‘s mission: to improve the health of the public and achieve equity in health status. University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry (UIWRSO) stood out to me because of their mission and what they stand for: To educate and prepare future leaders in optometry through excellence in education, patient care, and vision research. This is achieved in an environment committed to personal growth within a context of faith, human dignity and social justice.  I clearly remember my UIWRSO optometry school interview with Dr. Coates, the Chief of Vision Therapy Services, Director of Outreach Programs, and Assistant Clinical Professor. During my interview, he asked me about my public health mission trip to Honduras and why I decided to go, after I answered, he told me about his experiences with mission trips and how he wanted to start these trips with our school. Dr. Coates worked hard and stayed true to the UIWRSO mission and now these optometry students have multiple opportunities to go on these trips. I’m really happy that I can be a part of a school that has taken public health to a global level! We have an upcoming trip to Panama, and one last year to Sierra Leone, Africa.

Optometry is definitely an undeserved health profession in the public health sector due to the fact that optometry and public health are not as intertwined as the other health professions. To me, this needs to change! Because most of the efforts to spread vision care has been done through public health programs such as the InfantSee program.

I made this video with the intent to spread the word, so that optometry students can learn how to  be effective leaders with a public health background.

This video was filmed at Optometry’s Meeting 2014 at Philadelphia. With the help of optometry student leaders who are interested in public health, we were able to arrange a time to meet and shoot an impromptu video! Many thanks to Dr. Di Stefano, PCO; Lili Liang, PCO 2016; Dr. James Deom, PCO; Feyi Aworunse, SCO 2016; and Janis C. James, IAUPR 2016!


Anthony F. Di Stefano, OD, MPH, FAAO
Professor & Director
Master in Public Health Program

AOSA-Salus Public Health Scholarships
Master of Public Health Scholarships to Optometry Students

Feyi Aworunse
AOSA National APHA Liaison
American Public Health Association
UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry, Class of 2016
UIWRSO APHA Liaison (American Public Health Association)

Professional Etiquette: Business Card Courtesy for Optometry Students

Sample Business Card from AOA

Last year, I had a blast meeting students and doctors during Optometry’s Meeting 2013 in San Diego! I enjoyed pleasant chats in the free luncheons, at the Presidential Celebration, during CEs, and even asking for directions! At the very end of our conversation, they would hand me a card! “Well, Susan, It was nice talking to you! Here’s my card if you have any questions.” I took the card, smiled, and walked off into my own world. Little did I know that I was breaking the common business card courtesy!

Here are some business cards tips that I have learned to do!

  1. Know when to stop! The people at OM (Optometry’s Meeting) are busy! They are flying between CE courses and on their way to the next event! Sometimes, they are too polite to shush off an eager student trying to network in the sea of optometrists. Ask what they are up to before sitting down with them! Fellow students will also be very busy CE monitoring and presenting posters! Perhaps meet up with them at a social event like OSB or at the hotel after party (yes they exist)!

  2. Accept the card with a firm handshake! Don’t walk off awkwardly like I did. Take this opportunity to give them your business card and leave a lasting impression!

  3. Write notes! I wish I did this earlier because I can’t remember how I even got some of my cards and what their company/practice is all about.  Now, I would write down “where, when, and how” I met this person, maybe even a memo telling me to write a thank you letter afterwards.

  4. Organize the cards! I honestly did not know what to do with all the cards I have collected last year. When I got home, I started to sort them and put them in a bin. I am so glad that I did that because it helped me when I wanted to reach out to the doctors and sales representatives for my school’s fundraisers. You never know when you will use the cards again, but one card could belong to your future employer!

So, hopefully my tips can help you be prepared for Optometry’s Meeting this year! I got my free business cards from AOA! They look pretty spiffy, don’t you think? It took less than a month, so order them soon to make it in time for June 25, 2014!!!!