Introductions

I’m new here. Not just to this humble blog, but to the UIWRSO family, as are my 67 classmates of the recently officiated Class of 2021. Even nearly 2 months into the exciting and sometimes intense undertaking otherwise known as optometry school, I find myself still undergoing introductions with peers I have yet had the chance to say hello to.

Through this challenging four year experience, and even onward into the professional world, these people will become my second family. Peers that will be there to answer each other’s questions, and send each other encouragements or memes for quick laughs late into the night during exam week. Shoulders to lean on during moments of surmounting stress, when concepts won’t seem to ever click, and friends to celebrate with after overcoming hurdles.

Some of us have heard a calling to the optometric profession since our undergraduate years or even before. And yet others such as myself began our professional careers in other fields, and somewhere along the road found ourselves in San Antonio, in this distinguished program. No matter our background or where we call home, we’ve all been brought here with one common dream: to one day change the lives of patients through our optometric practices.

 

Fortunately, we aren’t alone on our conquest to professional success. Since even before beginning the program, the UIWRSO community has been exceptionally welcoming and accommodating. Something that drew me towards UIWRSO since meeting the staff at interviews is that they genuinely care about our education and training. As demanding as their own courses are, the upperclassmen have also been so helpful in guiding us into a smooth transition.

Along with Janelle, I will be documenting my experiences here, as well as sharing resources and tips that have helped me along the way.

To aspiring students, applicants, and the curious, take a peak at the every day life of a UIW optometry student.

My dear fellow first years, let me put our shared experiences down on metaphorical online paper.

And to the respectable upperclassmen and RSO faculty, enjoy reliving these first year moments, from stress-induced tears and nervous breakdowns of exams, to the unforgettable memories of first patient interactions.

Hi, it’s nice to meet you. Through my entries, I will be sharing with you the RSO experience, from the perspective of a first year.

Beyond the Classroom

Moving miles away from home to start graduate school can be an intimidating experience. I must commend the University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry (UIWRSO) for doing a great job of making out-of-state students feel right at “home”. UIW main campus, as well as RSO, plan various activities that help you get to know your classmates and faculty outside of the classroom, within the first few months of orientation.

Some of my favorite occasions have included: a UIW football tailgate hosted by RSO, Six Flags Fright Fest, and UIW’s Light the Way. As a graduate from a small private undergraduate university without a football team, I was excited to attend my first football tailgate. With UIW football recognized as division I in the Southland conference, I had nothing but high expectations. RSO hosts a tent annually at a Cardinal home football game, which allows students and faculty to get to know each other outside of the classroom. Nothing beats a Saturday afternoon filled with hot dogs, corn hole, and football!

RSO hosted an event this year during Halloween at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. This action-packed Saturday was nothing short of fulfilling. A break from class and studying is essential during optometry school. This break was slightly abstract because it included stomach dropping roller coaster rides and ghoulish haunted houses. Pictured below are students and professors enjoying the new batman ride.

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The most recent event I attended was held at UIW main campus, called Light the Way. At this annual event, UIW comes together to celebrate the holiday season and turn on all the campus Christmas lights on the count of 3, 2, 1… This event is a great opportunity to not only get in the Christmas spirit with live music, but also helps new students understand how important community is to UIW. Light the Way was first created by former UIW president Dr. Agnese to unite the entire community in the spirit of the season, by inviting all of the city of San Antonio. As an optometry student, you spend a vast amount of time with your own class, but these community events provide you with the chance to get to know upperclassmen and make remarkable new friends. Pictured below are first and second year students enjoying the recently turned on Christmas lights adorning UIW main campus.

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I am so very appreciative of the opportunities that exist to become part of the UIWRSO community.  In just 1 semester, I have so much appreciation for my new family, friends, and community while I work toward accomplishing my dreams.

Janelle Sventek

Janelle is a second year student attending UIWRSO, working as a blog writer to share personal experiences about her time in optometry school.

More Posts

Prepping for Boards Part I

After the hardship that optometry students like to call second year, third year seems great! You now have an opportunity to practice your skills on real-life patients in clinic, have a lot less classes and labs, and just overall have more free time. That is, until studying for Boards Part I rolls around! NBEO Part I Boards is very intimidating for a lot of students. It tests most of the information that you learn during your first three years of optometry school! Even though this can be very daunting, UIWRSO aims to help students to better prepare for boards. Continue reading “Prepping for Boards Part I”

Dining in the Dark

“Dining in the Dark” is an annual event that UIWRSO’s student chapter of SVOSH (Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) hosts in order to fundraise for the World Sight Day Challenge. This is a global campaign run by Optometry Giving Sight, a charity who hopes to help the more than 600 million people worldwide who are blind or vision impaired because they do not have access to an eye exam or glasses. 100 percent of the proceeds that came from this event went directly to this campaign, which is why it is such an important event for UIWRSO.

The room was beautifully decorated, and at each table there was a little blindfold in front of each plate, which we used to cover our eyes to simulate eating as a visually impaired or blind person. Everyone found their seats and volunteers to the event served drinks and bread. Nicole Fee, president of the RSO SVOSH chapter, gave a presentation about what World Sight Day is and how Dining in the Dark helps to benefit Optometry Giving Sight.

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There were also two guest speakers, Ricky Ruzicka, and Jose Martinez from Lighthouse for the Blind. Both of these speakers talked about their experience with their visual impairment. Ricky has Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, which he was not diagnosed with until his early twenties, and Jose has a form of Retinitis Pigmentosa, something he was born with. Both of these speakers gave us great insight to what it is like to have a visual impairment, whether you are born with it or develop it later in life. They gave us great information about what kind of devices and services are available to people with blindness. They also answered several questions about their daily lives, such as what kind of programs are available for them in school or how they learned how to ride the bus.

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Next, the eating began! The food was catered by Carraba’s Italian Grill. Eating pasta and salad might be easy when you have sight, but when that is taken away, it is definitely a challenge! Everyone was instructed to put on their blindfolds and eat their meal as they normally would. The lights were also turned off at this point. I definitely had to rely on my other senses, especially touch, to find what I was looking for. It was much more difficult than I thought it would be! After taking off the blindfold, I could see a lot of food around my plate; I guess I am not the best at this!

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At the same time, a silent auction was happening close-by, which was also used to raise money for Optometry Giving Sight. Some of the items up for auction (which were generously donated) included a LASIK procedure provided by Dr. Parkhurst and Nuvision, a new iPad Air, designer sunglasses, and vouchers for our own UIWRSO optical. SVOSH also raised money by having a raffle, giving away items such as a Keurig and gift cards.

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This was a fantastic event to attend. Not only did SVOSH raise a huge amount of money for this wonderful charity, I also got to see students, faculty, and friends coming together to participate and have fun in something they believe in, helping others through the gift of sight.

Second Years Get a Grip on Torics

As a second year, I feel as though I have learned so much in the past eight months. One of my favorite classes so far, however, has been our Contact Lens course. This semester, we were privileged enough to have the opportunity to attend a Toric Workshop held by the STAPLE (Soft Toric and Presbyopic Lens Education) Program. This program allows students to fit toric lenses on actual patients. This was actually the first time we were working on other patients, rather than our classmates! The program introduces students to different companies’ lenses and options, including Alcon, Bausch+Lomb, CooperVision, and VISTAKON. We met the sales reps that were either from San Antonio, or a surrounding area. This was very important to me, because if we choose to stay in this area once we graduate, we already have our foot in the door with these beneficial resources.

The program started off with a nice catered dinner, which was great as we had just finished a long day of labs and classes. Patients and participating professors were also invited to the dinner portion. Coordinating the event was Mrs. Ursula Lotzkat, who also introduced a guest speaker, Dr. Sahlu Pal. Dr. Pal gave a very interesting and informative presentation about toric lenses, and provided us an insight into her life. She expressed the importance of providing information about toric lens options to patients, which I found very valuable. As doctors, we to provide an opportunity to help someone see at their very best and be sure to help them to consider all possible options!

After the presentation, the workshop began. All of the second year students were put into groups of three with a doctor to oversee our progress. We were able to fit two lenses on one patient, and then two lenses on another. It gave us the opportunity to work with a real patient, and also see the different kinds of lenses out there. The sales reps really helped us in determining the best fit and powers for the patients. The professors were extremely helpful in making sure we knew what to look for when fitting contact lenses. Patients also seemed to enjoy helping the students.

To be honest, I was very nervous going into this experience. I felt like I was going to be unable to confidently interact with a patient who I had never seen before. However, it came naturally and that just proves to me to trust my natural instincts in helping and also validated the academic experience I am getting at UIWRSO. My patient was happy, I learned so much, and now I am able to say I have already fit patients in toric lenses, a skill I plan to incorporate when I have a practice of my own!

If you would like to find out more about the STAPLE program, check out their website here:

http://www.stapleprogram.com/Home.html

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