On Friday October 17th, 2014. Around 70 UIWRSO students and 6 TOA (Texas Optometric Association) board members were invited to Bass Pro Shops, a huge outdoors store, by the Students’ Texas Optometric Association (STOA) for a night of food, drinks, and networking. The hunting decor and wooden cabin theme of the Islamorada Restaurant also had a towering tropical aquarium as it’s centerpiece; students pointed at the fish in awe and enjoyed the sea-like glow while eating a variety of hors d’oeuvre. Jason Ngo, Amy Cuevas, and myself are the current officers of STOA, and with the help of Intern Sheyda Durig and our faculty adviser, Dr. Fortenberry, we were able to help the students socialize with the TOA board members. The creation of a signature card helped to facilitate conversations with each TOA board member before entering into a raffle. Four generous TOA board members donated to the raffle, where the winners would be sponsored to go to Austin in February for the TOA Convention. The STOA officers encourages all students to attend the TOA convention where they can attend/monitor continuing education classes, observe the House of Delegates, and participate in other student functions with the University of Houston, College of Optometry. The TOA convention offers so much to our profession and it is always a load of fun! I’m glad that 4 students won a travel grant to attend!
The event was sponsored by Michael K Newhouse, President of HM General Contractors. HM General Contractors help doctors construct office space and gave me a new outlook in space management and how that impacts your business. The representatives from HM General Contractors would visit with many health professions, so they had a lot of stories to tell! TOA board members Dr. Fred Farias, Dr. Peter Cass, Dr. Sandra Fortenberry, Dr. Matt Valdes, Dr. Monica Allison, and Dr. Deakins were so quite busy that night. Students surrounded them to hear of their stories while the doctors learned more about RSO and their interns. Some students were shy to talk to the leaders in the TOA, but by the end of the night, I felt that the attendees really got to know each other. Students were interested in the doctor’s drive to help push the profession legislatively and some students were curious to how they balanced their work and political involvement. The TOA board members answered, “if you are having so much fun, it’s not work!” Dr. Farias, President of the TOA, helped close the night with his motivating speech about optometry and our success and benefits in working together. I’m glad to be a part of this event, I felt that RSO has really prepared me for the work field and sparked my interested in legislative optometry. Lastly, I really enjoyed the company of RSO students and the a tight-knit TOA.