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
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.
On 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!
When I first heard about the white coat ceremony, I didn’t give much thought about it. I vaguely remember a “fitting day” where they let us tried on the different sized white coats and asked us for our height (girls with heels). Finals were approaching and to be honest, finishing second year strong was running through my mind… After the tests were done, we had almost a week of vacation until we returned to our school for clinic training and the following day was our long awaited Clinic Induction Ceremony AKA white coat ceremony.
On the morning of the ceremony, we drove to the main campus of the University of Incarnate Word (UIW); The UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry, campus is located in the San Antonio Medical center around 10 miles away. I don’t visit here often, but that day, the campus was just gorgeous! The flowers were blooming, the colorful international flags were waving in the nice summer breeze, and the view from the UIW Skyroom’s 5th floor reflected the San Antonio skyline. San Antonio’s largest building is an observation tower called the Towers of America ; the 750-foot building looked so small from here!
When I entered the room, the UIW Eye clinic staff greeted the inductees and their guests with a pamphlet of the event and handed me my new spiffy white coat, they asked us to hold the coat in our left hands and be prepared to walk on stage for the “coating.” I stumbled in…and wow was I shocked! The entire auditorium was full! We have just less than 70 students in the second year class, but I noticed that some of my friends had more than 30 family members and friends attend the ceremony. It was huge!
Family and friends sat in the back while the inductees/students sat in front. I had the hardest time figuring out where my seat was because it wasn’t in alphabetical order; in fact it was based in height! It turns out I’m the 4th shortest student in class (since I wrote- no heels).
Dr. Fortenberry, UIWRSO Faculty and Master of Ceremony introduced the speakers and announced the interns being coated. Dr. Fortenberry did a great job keeping the program on schedule. Dr. Buzzelli, UIWRSO Dean and the opening speaker, commends the class of 2016 for their hard work. He reminded us that optometry opens doors because we have the opportunity to go anywhere we want, from the military, to private practice, to an hospital; however we must always remember that this also means that today is the day that we no longer serve ourselves, but the patients at hand. Dr. Fred Farias III, OD, FAAO, Texas Optometric Association President, sponsored the white coats for our class and reminded the audience and students about the importance of the white coat and how this will be the foundation for our lives.
Dr. Farias left the audience laughing and inspired with his speech (Darth Vader was somehow the punch line)! Lastly, Dr. Collins, UIWRSO Faculty gave the closing speech and left us some advice for clinic; be on time, wash your hands, and on a comical note: don’t forget to zip after going to the restroom. The ceremony went by so fast, the speeches, then the pictures… it is a blur to me now.
I could not have made it this far without my friends and family supporting me this whole way. Thank you all!