TOA Meet & Greet

meet n greet

From Left to Right: Susan Ly, Dr. Peter Cass, Dr. Matt Valdes, Dr. Monica Allison, Dr. Fred Farias, Dr. Sandra Fortenberry, Dr. Deakins, and Jason Ngo

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!

hm general contractors

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.

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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iProfit Seminar

Optometry school has provided me with numerous experiences in classes and organizations that I have been looking forward to since deciding upon Optometry. Some of these experiences are those that tie into the political, technological,healthcare, or business aspects of Optometry just to name a few. The advantage of many of these events are that they are offered as weekend seminars and are designed as Continuing Education (CE) courses for already practicing Optometrists.

I consider this advantageous because, as an optometry student, it is a great benefit to be able to network with doctors that are already out practicing and know what you have been through as well as communicating much of the reward that lies on the other side of graduation. This also gives you the opportunity to ask what obstacles they may face with their practices or state laws to help you determine what the best mode of practice would be, where it is best to practice, and even if a residency is the right thing for you to pursue, etc.

Enough about how it’s a great opportunity to attend all these events and on with this iProfit seminar …..

This summer I attended a weekend seminar sponsored by the Texas Optometric Association (TOA) that encompassed different areas of Optometry that can help with business growth in a new era controlled by technology and social media. It also aimed at how to better the patients’ experience and make you a more reputable doctor. The weekend was broken up into mini courses, breakout discussions, and lunches designed to offer an array of different topics, and speakers that are very successful in Optometry and business. This all sounds like it would be fun (especially on a weekend during my first summer off–why not sit through more classes), but maybe when I’m a practicing Optometrist this would be more suiting. So, “why do I need this exposure during school” you may ask?

I feel that the sooner you can start to think like a business minded optometrist, the sooner that allows you to realize how all of the healthcare and other services you will be providing are actually going to provide for you and your family later in life. It gives you a perspective to start looking through, since many students would like to own their own practice. Let’s face it, we have enough on our plate learning everything we need to know to be a great Optometrist but we could always use a little more of the business background. Especially by Optometrists that are so successful in it that they are sharing it with others to help them succeed in order to build Optometry nationally.

The information contained in this weekend was very helpful to start thinking about at such an early point in my education, however, networking with different doctors was just as beneficial. Though it was through the TOA, there were doctors from all over the country that came to listen to these speakers. This was my first experience networking with a large number of Optometrists and it was a lot of fun for myself and the other students there, but it was also important to hear the advice and opinions from different doctors in response to questions we asked them throughout the weekend.

The take-away point … is to be more than a student during Optometry school. Get involved and start making Optometry YOUR profession and YOUR future!