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!


UIWRSO Optometry Student Bowl

Every year, students attend Optometry’s Meeting, which will be held in Seattle from June 24-27 this year. During that meeting, Essilor sponsors the National Optometry Student Bowl, where students answer optometric questions to win the national title. In order to see who will represent RSO at this national competition, UIWRSO holds an AOSA Optometry Student Bowl. Not only does it prepare the students for the national level, but it also gives RSO students an opportunity to win travel grants to the Optometry Meeting itself! This year, five students competed at the chance to have a spot in Seattle: Alicia Chacon, Sam Bohl, Melanie Kane, Van Do (all third year students), and Amy Cuevas (second year student).

Let’s see if you can answer the first (test) question:

“Who is the sponsor for the National Optometry Student Bowl?” If you were paying attention like the participants were, you should’ve gotten it right. The answer is Essilor!

That’s when Round 1 started. Round 1 questions were 1 point each (10 questions), Round 2 were 2 points each (10 questions), and Round 3 questions were 3 points each (5 questions). The final round was similar to “Final Jeopardy” in that the students had to wager how many points they wanted to gamble with and try and get ahead.

The set-up was very creative! Students sat in a table-like panel and even had “buzzers” which were lights that turn on when you touch them. There was a timer, Minati Desai, and she was helped by Bobby Olivarez (RSO’s new Trustee-Elect for AOSA) to decide who “buzzed” in first. Students had 10 seconds to answer the question, which was handled by Reid Cluff, AOSA Trustee-Elect for 2014-2015. He also handled the scoreboard. The star of the show, however, was our very own faculty member, Dr. Narayanan, who hosted the Student Optometry Bowl!

Throughout the whole competition, it was a pretty close game between the participants. Professors, as well as students from all years, came to support the contestants, and I even saw someone in the crowd who had a poster that said “Class of 2016!” It was great to see and hear the encouragement from the crowd. In between the rounds, AOSA gave away raffle prizes including Starbucks gift cards and t-shirts (things that all optometry students love). Food from Freebirds was also provided to students, so everyone was excited about that!

After 3 grueling rounds and many points lost and gained with the wager in the final round, the winner of the RSO Optometry Student Bowl was announced: Melanie Kane! She will be representing our school in Seattle in June, and received a grant to attend the event. The runner-ups also got smaller grants for the trip, as well, so everyone was a winner that night. UIWRSO says good luck Melanie and win that national title!


Politically Involved as an Optometry Student

Left to Right: Duc Tran, Denisse Lopez, Reid Cluff, and Dr. Narayanan.

As an optometry student, I admired how the InfantSEE®/Optometry Cares program was established by optometrists lobbying and networking with U.S. politicians.  InfantSEE is just one of the many feats that the AOA – American Optometric Association have made possible to the public and demonstrated support for optometrists. In hopes of becoming a part of the legislative activity, I became an officer of the Student Texas Optometric Association (STOA).  It was my goal to take an active role in the political association that opens doors for optometrists as well as improves the visual welfare of the people. At the Texas Optometric Association (TOA) board meetings, I was very impressed by the leadership and organization that the executive board possessed and they taught me the importance of proper communication with other leaders (I’ll talk more about the TOA and STOA in future blogs). Today, I would like to blog about the active political student leaders at our schoolIMG_20150128_123000 .

The UIWRSO trustees of AOSA – American Optometric Student Association, Denisse Lopez and Reid Cluff; are not only academically outstanding, but represent our school in Optometry’s Meeting and the AOSA Board of Trustees meeting. They connect RSO students to the other optometry students across the US, Canada and Puerto Rico via the AOSA Board of Trustees. In addition to expanding their network, the trustees also write about their school, for example, Denisse has published multiple articles in the AOSA Foresight magazine. The trustees also meet with industry leaders and hold events at RSO to fundraise and support students. Lastly to update RSO with what AOSA is doing and vice versa, the trustees attend monthly meetings and communicate directly with the RSO Student Government Association and Dean.

AOA-PAC is the American Optometric Association – Political Action Committee.  It is a subdivision of the AOA that focuses in fighting for pro-optometric laws. AOA-PAC does not have a local chapter at RSO. It is solely a national organization that has local liaisons assisting in its outreach programs. To support AOA in its political activism, Duc Tran, UIWRSO Class of 2015 and AOA-PAC Liaison, led a luncheon meeting for students to learn about optometric advocacy, where he discussed details regarding the Congressional Advocacy Conference (CAC) in Washington, DC in April 12 – 14, 2015. Duc attended the CAC meeting last year and shared with us his journey talking to politicians with optometric activists.

I’m glad that I have met such great friends and colleagues at UIWRSO, and the message that I would like to share is that optometry school is not just about your current coursework, but the start to your career and begin building your professional network. Your school’s Student Optometric Association is linked to the State Optometric Association which is connected to the American Optometric Association. By getting involved at school, you can open many doors along the way, just like it has for me!

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!!!!

Optometry’s Meeting 2013! An Optometry Student’s Perspective

[pb_slideshow group=”1″] Wednesday, June 26 – Day 1 Highlights – Welcome to the lovely San Diego!  I decided to go to Optometry’s Meeting (OM) because I wanted to check out the interesting Continuing education (CE) courses! I signed up to be a CE monitor and Wednesday was our training session. The CE Office was busy, busy, BUSY! They handed out walkie-talkies and signage to the CE monitors and assigned them to a course to keep watch!! This year OM went electronic! No longer were there stamps and cards, but ODs get credit for their CE course via their badges.

I held a nifty machine that scanned the bar code on each doctor’s badge, and then when the doctors complete a course evals, they will receive full credit for the course!  Being a CE monitor was a great experience, you can work things out with your partner to sit-in the course so that you can do your job and at the same time listen to the CE course itself. I attended our very own Dr. Trevino’s lecture about the Posterior segment and Horner’s syndrome (to the pre-opt students reading: you will be shocked with the amount of info you will learn with those terms!) The CE monitor sitting outside got a chance to network with passing by ODs who are on their break or just exploring OM!  I would love to do this again! I met so many cool students from other schools being a CE monitor! I also got to learn a whole lot!

Thursday, June 27 – Day 2 Highlight – Varilux® Optometry Student Bowl™ It’s so fun and amazing that I just can’t explain it in words, so here’s a video!

Friday, June 28 – Day 3 Highlights – OM Exhibition Hall!!   The San Diego Convention Center was huge! Then again the new technology and equipment’s for optometry was plentiful and some were huge too! I was awed by all the innovations that each booth had to offer. Booths were occupied by different businesses, from small, corporate to international groups! I talked to all sorts of vendors to get a feel of what I can go into in the future.

It is true that OM is catered to ODs but like myself, there were many students prowling the halls in search of guidance and perhaps free stuff! There were snacks like ice cream, cotton candy, chips, dips, and cheese! Freebies and raffles were scattered throughout the booths and days that the exhibition hall were open.  My good friend and classmate, Irina Yakubin, was chitchatting with a young man at the booth dedicated to raising awareness for albinos because her close friend was also albino. I joined in and learned so much! He told us that vision may be impaired in albinos and spoke to us about other symptoms that they may experience.

Down by another booth, I bumped into a friend from my undergrad. Rebecca Wong, a UC Berkeley Optometry student was manning a booth. She told me all about and entered me to a raffle. When the names were selected, I won an incredibly cute plush! It’s an eyeball!!!!!

Saturday, June 29 – Day 4 Highlight – Celebration of Optometry   I’M ON A BOAT for the “Celebration of Optometry (Presidential Celebration)”! How cool is that? After a short intro to the new AOA and AOSA officers, the attendees were shuttled to the docked USS Midway. It was a floating museum with airplanes and other retired Navy equipment’s on board! Here’s a slide show of the captivating night sky of San Diego along with images of the lively bunch on the USS MIDWAY! ____ Some photos are courtesy of Dr. Mark Landig, OD.