Upon starting at SCO last fall I thought a lot about how involved I wanted to be while here. There were a lot of clubs and activities available outside of the classroom, but I wasn't sure how much I could actually handle. My first thought was, "Does anyone in their right mind even have time for all of this?!" After realizing that there was, indeed, life beyond the classroom, I started looking for ways to get involved. There were a few clubs I knew I wanted to be a part of such as OPP (private practice) and NORA (neuro rehabilitation) because of my interest in those areas. I also signed up for a few intramural teams which kept me both active and sane. I felt like I had a good handle on my schedule and things were going well. However, as the semester grew longer I realized that I was missing something that was very important to my education: perspective. In all honesty, it's very easy to get bogged down beneath the piles of new information, endless quizzes and tiring exam weeks of optometry school and forget the reason of why you went there in the first place. As I searched for ways to regain this perspective, I began to heavily consider applying for the Ambassador Program at SCO. A few things went through my mind over the weeks leading up to the application deadline. Cons: It requires extra hours away from home, It requires extra effort in addition to my current school (and work-study) work load, It is unpaid. Pros: Networking with various optometrists, professionals, and campus guests, Improving communication skills, Working with groups of prospective students, Educating others about optometry, and advocating on behalf of SCO. In a word, the pros could be summed up as "perspective". It was clear that this would be a great opportunity for me.
After applying and being accepted into the Ambassador Program, it didn't take long for me to see this perspective take effect. An example may be useful:
Near the end of June I was involved in Discover Optometry; a day-long event of introducing prospective students to the profession of optometry and SCO. It came during one of the busiest weeks of the mini term nicknamed the "2nd Year Bootcamp." Initially it seemed like a huge sacrifice to break away from studying for the several quizzes and tests we had the following week, but ultimately I found that it was just what I needed. Most of the campus guests were in the process of obtaining their undergraduate degree. Others came from different professions and were looking to see if optometry was a good fit for them. There was an extremely diverse group of students and their families in attendance from all over the country. After greeting the guests and answering questions over lunch, we gave tours of the campus and clinic and discussed all the aspects of the profession. Part of the tour included a brief clinical demonstration by a few faculty and students using the slitlamp. Participants were also able to attend two Q&A sessions with panels of current students and faculty who answered questions ranging from OAT prep to annual starting salary.
One of the main things that stood out to me after participating in this event was how fascinating everything was to those visiting. They asked a lot of questions about the different areas of care within optometry and were excited about the many modes of practice the profession offers. During the clinic tour they were amazed at the level of care the student interns were able to give. Shortly after the event, it occurred to me that it wasn't too long ago that I was the same wide-eyed prospective student that couldn't wait for the chance to work in the clinic at SCO one day. Discover Optometry was just one of the many activities that I've been involved in through the Ambassador Program and it has helped me remember why I love this profession so much. It's comforting to see others share the same passion I have and to work just as hard as I have to move the profession of optometry forward. I haven't once regretted the decision to become an Ambassador and it has been a privilege to share my love of optometry with others. With the new school year upon us I'm looking forward to helping with Orientation and meeting a whole new group of entering students to help give me that much needed perspective!