Public Affairs and why it matters

One of the foundations of my university is this  thing that we like to call the Public Affairs Mission. This mission is supposed to be something that guides everything we do at the university and produce students who are both scholars and citizens. All of this looks great on paper but is actually kind of hard to flesh out in the real world. This blog I started was actually part of an assignment that my physics teacher asked us to do. He saw the value in teaching us about the Public Affairs mission and integrated it into his class, even though there was a lot of other material we had to get through. I was skeptical at first, but looking back I am so grateful for this experience, and I truly do see the value in this mission. 

This week I was invited by this teacher to attend a campus-wide workshop of faculty and students that came together to evaluate and assess the Public Affairs mission. It was so inspiring to see that there were people who actually were passionate about defining this mission that had seemed so vague at first, and that they were finding ways to apply it to their own courses. It was an honor to be invited to give my input in such a great process as well. 

It’s kind of late, and as a busy student I need to probably wrap this up and get some sleep, but I just wanted to share this because my eyes were opened to a lot this week. If you are given opportunities to participate in anything like this on your own campus, DO IT! You will not regret the networking, resume building, and more importantly the personal growth that can come from working with a group of your peers and the faculty of your campus to make your mark on your university. 

Follow your passion. Find your place. Leave your mark. 

Thank you for reading,



Super Advice from an OAT Test Taker!

Here is some great information about the OAT from Southern California College of Optometry!

Optometry Admissions Blog

What follows is a retrospective from an OAT test taker about the OAT.  It was originally posted on SCCO’s Facebook Group for Pre-Optometry Students:

This advice was given by a student who was accepted to SCCO, a student currently in our program.  I don’t think she’d mind me telling you that she NAILED the OAT—she received excellent scores in every section.   I hope everyone benefits from this valuable information. Dr. Jane Ann Munroe, Director of Admissions for SCCO

SCCO students posing for the camera!

Advice from the OAT Test Taker:  I survived the OAT the other day and was happy with my scores! Don’t worry guys, it’s not as bad as it seems. I know some other students also mentioned that the actual OAT is easier than the OAT Achiever practice tests. My actual score was a lot higher than my scores on either of the two practice…

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PA8- Ethical Leadership

Hello future ODs!

Optometry is a profession that many choose to go into because they believe that they will be able to make a good amount of money. I have to admit that is one of the factors that lead me to consider this field. At the end of the day, optometry is about business. Even if we want to be an optometrist for all of the right reasons (helping people see, serving our communities, etc.) we will have to deal with the fact that we have to make a living and pay off all of the debt encountered from financing our education. I think that it is important to set the stage for your future business practice now, before the pressures of making money in “the real world” are encountered. A huge part of being an optometrist is managing the employees that work for you, even if you have an office manager to help with that. Because of this fact, I think that it is important that we have a good understanding of ethical leadership, so here are some of my personal thoughts about it.

What makes an ethical leader? Here are seven characteristics that I think are essential to ethical leadership.

1. An ethical leader is altruistic. They will give up their time and resources for someone else. As an optometrist that may look like volunteering to do free eye exams for underpriviledged children or going out of the country on a missions trip. 

2. Ethical leaders are honest and trustworthy. Patients need to know that they can count on you to be upfront with them about their eye health, and that you will charge them a fair price. Likewise, employees need to know that you will pay them a fair wage and treat them fairly. 

3. Ethical leaders care about people and their community. If patients know that you care about them, they will return to your office. If they feel like they are just another glasses prescription, they are less likely to come back.

4.  Ethical leaders model ethical behavior and hold their employees accountable for doing the same. If one of your employees is acting shady, you might have to confront them. At the same time, you must make sure that you are acting with integrity at all times to set an example for them to follow. As an ethical leader you must hold yourself and those around you to a higher standard. 

5. Encouragement and inspiration are extremely important for ethical leadership. As an employer you must always encourage employees when they are doing a good job. When someone works very hard and receives no recognition, they get burnt out. Words of encouragement and inspiration are probably the easiest thing to give your employees and will help motivate them to continue doing a great job. 

6. As an ethical leader you must be self-aware, transparent, and conscientious. It is important that as an optometrist you realize that you are a leader. Even if you work in a chain store where there is an office manager, you will have technicians and assistants that look up to you. You will need to be able to look at your own actions and see how they influence those around you. Leadership comes with this position, and it is important to be able to evaluate what kind of a leader you are. You should always be looking for ways that you can improve your own leadership. 

7. Ethical leaders have other leaders that they look up to. It is easy to become proud and feel like you have everything figured out when you are the boss, but it is important that you always have people to look up to. There should be people in your life that are encouraging you and inspiring you to be an even better leader so that this will trickle down to those looking up to you.
Although optometrists make good money, it is important that we remember that this position is about helping others and serving our community. I think that a lot of people who become doctors, optometrists, etc., feel entitled to make a lot of money without giving back because they have worked very hard to get to where they are. While I understand that these positions require an expensive education that must be paid for, I think that we are required to be generous with our income, time, and abilities. As an optometrist you will have skills that are valuable and can help many people. As an ethical leader in your position I think it is important to be self-sacrificing. It isn’t always about how much money there is to be made in a profession. It is about being the best that we can be and helping others do the same. 
I hope that this has inspired some of you and shown you a different perspective on optometry!


PA 7 Cultural Competence

One of the foundations of my university is cultural competence. It is something that they strive to incorporate into every course. I think that in this setting competence is the focus, not necessarily culture. Competence implies that you have the knowledge and ability to deal with whatever situation is at hand. Culture is a much more vague concept. We are surrounded by so many things that could be considered to be a part of our culture from the food we eat, to the movies we watch, to the kinds of transportation we use. I think that competence is the focus of the university- to teach students how to deal with people of any culture in a non-offensive way. I think that this is a really great thing for the university to emphasize because it creates a culture of competent people. The students at this university will (hopefully) be more tolerant, culturally-sensitive individuals.

This idea is very applicable to pre-optometry students because they will find themselves working with people from all kinds of different cultures. I work at an eye clinic right now, and even though we are located in a very non-diverse city we see patients from many different cultures. It is important to always treat every patient with respect so that they will return to your practice.

Another way that cultural competence can be beneficial to pre-optometry students is through teaching them how to be interdisciplinary. This term refers to people of different jobs or industries working together to get a job done. In a way each job can be thought of as its own “culture.” In optometry this is a very important concept. Optometrists have to work with many other doctors because they are able to diagnose conditions that need more intensive treatment such as glaucoma, cataracts, high blood pressure, diabetes, and macular degeneration. They also have to work with contact lens manufacturers, opticians, and office managers. Optometry is a very special field but it cannot stand alone. I think the same is true of people in general. Each culture is significant on its own, but it is necessary for there to be many kinds of cultures to fit everyone’s need to belong to something bigger than themselves.

Thanks for reading!


PA6- What it means to be an optometrist in today’s society.

Hello Everyone!

Today I have been assigned to talk about my civic identity and the community that I see myself as helping in my future career.

My civic identity right now is that of a student. I am expected to work hard, make good grades, volunteer, and be involved with organizations on campus. In the future I plan to be an optometrist- someone who makes a good living, treats disease, and helps people see. I want to give back to my community a lot when I’m an optometrist. Going to the Dining in the Dark event that I went to last weekend really opened my eyes to all of the amazing things that optometrists and ophthalmologists can do for their community. A big part of that is making health care affordable. I don’t understand all of the politics behind healthcare right now, but I do know that if I own my own clinic one day, I want my patients to know I care about more than just the check I’m getting when they walk out the door. I want to help people who cannot afford proper vision care. I know I still have to make a living, but I hope that I will remain humble enough to be generous once I start making money. I think that greediness is a terrible quality to have. I also know that there are a lot of opportunities for missions trips in optometry. Organizations such as the Lion’s Club collect used glasses and distribute them. There are also a lot of other ways to be help and serve people through this profession, so I am looking forward to that.

I keep talking about this community that I want to help, but I have to stop and ask myself, “Who is this community?” Right now that question is kind of hard to answer. I’m not sure where I want to go to optometry school yet, and after that I’ll have to make the decision of where to practice. I know that wherever I go there will be people who need help and can’t afford it. I hope to help those people in whatever way I can. More than that though, I dream of helping the global community. I mentioned the Lion’s Club and their missions trips that they go on. I would love to be a part of those. I would like to go all over the world and help as many people as I can. Some people may wonder why I want to do this, especially if it is costing me money. They may think that I deserve something in return. Honestly, I think that going to bed each night knowing that you have helped someone and made a difference in their life is priceless. I think that’s the greatest reward.

I am so excited to one day be on the “doctor-end” of great events and trips that impact people by helping them see. I have had just a few encounters in my own community through an organization that works with the Lion’s Club to provide vision screenings for kids at schools, and I have had a chance to help with that event I mentioned earlier. I am the President of the Pre-Optometry Club, so I have been networking with these organizations to find out more about how we can help and set up volunteer opportunities. I hope that all Pre-Optometry students see what an amazing impact they can make on the lives of others, and don’t just pick this profession for the money.

Thanks for reading! Let’s change the world!


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PA5 Getting Ready to Graduate

Hello Again!

I just wanted to write today to tell you all a little bit about what it is like to be me right now. I am a Junior, so I only have two more semesters until I graduate. That is so crazy! I am preparing to take the OAT and looking into schools. Right now I’m thinking I would like to go to UMSL or NOVA Southeastern University. They both look like amazing schools, and I think I would be really happy at either of them. I am at the point where I am working on my resume and trying to present myself as a well-rounded individual. It takes a lot of time and energy to juggle all of the things that make you a competitive applicant for optometry school. I am working on getting in volunteer and shadowing hours, working to support myself, presiding over the Pre-Optometry Club on campus, doing undergraduate research, and keeping up with my coursework. It’s a lot, but I enjoy all of these things and am so thankful for the opportunities I have been blessed with. I know that all of these things will show the admissions counselors that I am a hard worker and that I am passionate about what I do.

I want them to see that not only am I excited about optometry, but I love science in general! I have a minor obsession with birds, so I am taking an ornithology class right now, and I love it! The other day we got to learn about birds’ vision and I was just so excited- my two favorite things in one class period! I definitely nerded out a little bit, but oh well.

I also want them to see that I am involved with my community. I think it’s important for optometrists to give back to whatever community they are in because they have a skill that can help so many people. Last night I had an opportunity to help with this really cool event for the Vision Rehabilitation Center, and it was so cool to see how many optometrists came to the event and supported their cause. I hope that by being involved in the community now I’ll be able to keep that mentality as a graduate and give back to the people around me.

I have loved my experience in college so far, but I am definitely read to graduate and move on to optometry school. One of my friends just got accepted and has been telling me so many awesome things about her class and all of the things they are doing to make the next four years a good experience. She has shared a lot of insight into the whole process of interviewing and applying, and I am so thankful for that. I am really just excited to start doing all of those things myself and hopefully be accepted next fall!

Thanks for reading! Keep up all the hard work!


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PA4 Choosing an Undergraduate Major

Hello fellow students!

I’m not sure where all of you are at in your journey towards Optometry school, but here’s a post to help you out if you are in the “I’m about to go to college and I have no clue what this thing called a major is and what I should choose” phase.

I remember it well… I remember putting “Pre-Optometry” down as my major on all of my college paperwork before I started school. I didn’t really understand that that’s not technically a major. Once I figured out what I was doing I chose to major in Biology. Personally, I have found it to be challenging, fascinating, and my perfect fit.

Biology is a really great major for any student who wants to go to optometry school. You meet pretty much all of your pre-requisites, learn all of the important information for the OAT, and get to know a lot about the world around you. Even classes that don’t seem related to optometry will have small connections here and there.

I’m also minoring in Chemistry, which is difficult but so worth it. I have a love/hate relationship with chem. I have always struggled to understand it, but a good foundation in chemistry will take you far in as a biology and/or pre-optometry student. I only needed to take one extra chemistry class to have a minor with all of the chemistry classes I was required to take for my major, so I decided to take it on. (Plus, that extra class was a pre-req for optometry school, so that’s a win-win!)

To major in Biology, you definitely have to be a science person. I know that a lot of what I read online when trying to decide my major encouraged people to pursue degrees in the humanities, just to make them stand out as a different kind of applicant. My advice is–don’t! You will have to work really, really hard to understand everything for the OAT if you do that. I think that most people who want to go into optometry are already interested in science, so I highly recommend picking either biology, chemistry, or even physics. Biology just happens to be the science that I am the most interested in. I actually really enjoy all of the electives I get to take for it. (Nerdy, but true!)

So, this is the major that I have chosen, and I’m a little biased, but I think it’s the best. If you major in Biology you will be exposed to so many interesting things, and you will easily meet your pre-requisite requirements for Optometry school and the OAT. Plus, I GOT TO DISSECT A PIGEON TODAY! How many majors let you do that??

It’s tough, but it’s worth it. If I had to do it over again, I’d still choose biology.

Thanks for reading!

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