Grant the Guide Dog

Before moving to San Antonio, I had spent countless hours volunteering my time at a guide dog school in Florida. Guide dog schools are non-profit organizations that typically breed, raise, and train guide dogs to increase mobility and independence to legally blind individuals. So, it would make sense that when I had accepted a seat in RSO’s class of 2020, my next thought was to locate the closest guide dog school to San Antonio. To my pleasure and surprise, I found one, not only in Texas but headquartered right here, in San Antonio.

Prior to leaving my home state I had all paper work filled out, all training quizzes complete, and became an approved volunteer with Guide Dogs of Texas. I was not only excited about starting optometry school but also having the opportunity to give back, to my soon to be neighborhood and community. After several months as a weekend guide dog boarder and getting a handle on my first semester of graduate school, I felt it was time to take the next step.

With approval from RSO administration I signed up to become a full-time guide dog raiser, one who boards a dog long-term. On January 10th, my life changed as soon as I met Grant, my guide dog in training. With his big floppy ears and grinning smile, he instantly stole my heart.

As a guide dog raiser, I oversaw exposing Grant to all the sights and sounds he could potentially experience one day while with a client. When I received Grant, I had only lived in San Antonio for six months and was still exploring for myself. What better way to learn a new city than with a puppy by my side?

The very first place I went with Grant was the iconic Riverwalk! With water features, ducks, lots of people, and narrow sidewalks it was a great place to begin working on our bond and his training.

One week after getting Grant, the spring semester began, which meant all new sights and sounds for him, and for my peers. Many classmates had the urge to pet Grant, given his cunning looks, but they understood the damaging effects that occur when a guide dog is distracted from work. Grant quickly discovered his favorite teachers (they were the ones with treats) and would readily interact with them while in the hallways. When I would stay late studying for exams, he would easily cheer me up with a puppy lick or a goofy play session.

On June 5th, the big day arrived. After six months of training, he went in for his assessment to see if he could continue as a guide dog. It was a nerve-racking experience, but I knew I had given it my all, and after a few days I found out…HE PASSED! Grant would officially become a guide dog for a legally blind individual. After passing his assessment he had lots of “free runs” at the dog park and maybe a few extra treats.

On July 15th, Grant attended his doggy graduation where he traded in his blue “In-Training” vest for his official harness. He will continue in advanced training for six more months and will then be matched with a client. After roughly ten years of working, he will then enjoy the good life of retirement.

This whole experience has been so rewarding to me, through the ability to train Grant and help potential visually impaired patients. I highly encourage everyone to find a hobby or organization that you are passionate about and donate your time to it while in school.

Pictured below is an example of a guide dog and client team. Guide dog Finn with his client Steven. (Fun fact: Finn is Grant’s uncle.)

Visit www.guidedogsoftexas.org to learn more, donate, or become a volunteer.

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.

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Relocating 101

Almost without exception, whenever I meet a potential new student at interview days, they ask me about living accommodations in San Antonio. When I confirmed my acceptance into UIWRSO I had a sense of relief, but also a giant wave of anxiety. I knew nothing about the state of Texas, and certainly had no idea about a city the size of San Antonio. Through all the nervousness and stress that I endured on interview day, I somehow remembered being told about a free relocation service to RSO students.

I was apprehensive at first, because we all know nothing is free; but reluctantly I picked up the phone and called the relocation office. The staff member that answered the phone could not be more helpful.  She asked me to email her a list of all my wants and desires when it came to apartment size, location, features, amenities and she would find the perfect complexes for me. Within a few days, sent me a good selection of places to choose from.

I planned a trip to San Antonio in May to tour my top 3 choices. By the end of that day, I had placed a deposit and knew where I would be living come August. I highly encourage all students to use the relocation service. They were great at helping me narrow down my options and find the perfect fit for me. Oh, and the cherry on top: it really was all free!

http://www.aptreloctr.com

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.

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First RSO student appointed a National Liaison Position with AOSA

asco

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: http://www.theaosa.org/about/2015-16-allied-associations-and-national-liaisons/

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: http://www.opted.org/

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 at San Antonio Health Expo

2015-health-and-wellness-expo-flyer

RSO’s BIGGEST summer event is the Health & Wellness Expo in San Antonio.  The Health Expo was held on Saturday, June 6, 2015 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.  Our participation in the event is another great example of the UIWRSO commitment to the program’s mission.  While volunteering at this event, my classmates and I had a chance to provide complimentary vision screenings as part of a comprehensive wellness conference event.  This initiative is also a reflection of our extensive patient contact both inside and outside the clinics.

Additionally, this year, I was asked by the clinic directors to help recruit student volunteers for this huge Health Expo. No surprise, there were a lot of students who went and they all received a cool t-shirt for their help! It was also a great chance for interns to meet other health groups in the area and learn about their field. The Rosenberg School of Optometry booth was super busy where students were giving away swag bags for the attendees. Overall, everyone had a blast!

During the afternoon session, special guest Dr. Phil, talked about making the city a healthier place.

Below is a testimony from our very own professor, Dr. Rabin:

I spent a few hours at the 2nd Annual Health and Wellness EXPO today where UIWRSO made a huge presence thanks to the oversight of Dr. Chapman and Mr. Kruse, multiple invaluable staff and MANY Intern Volunteers…

Dr. Rabin also took some pictures and would like to share them.

 

 

AAO Pinning Ceremony at UIWRSO!

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