Last week, the American Optometric Association (AOA) was host to optometrists, students, and paraoptometric members from across the United States and Canada for their annual Optometry’s Meeting, which was combined with the annual congressional advocacy meeting as AOA+. This year’s meeting took place in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. and had record-setting turnouts for events. A special thanks to the AOA for providing the travel grant for students. This helped offset the cost for many students that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to make the trip!
Wednesday, June 21 – AOA+ Kicks Off With Rally on the Hill
Students participating in AOA+ arrived in D.C. a day early to participate in “storming the Capitol,” where many optometrists and key congressional representatives also showed their support in a rally on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Speakers included the Immediate Past President of the AOA, Dr. Andrea Thau, and Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth. With over 2,300 students and doctors in attendance, the rally was streamed on Facebook Live and gained lots of attention in the world of optometry during this ground-breaking event. Attendees even helped set the record for the largest optometry selfie to date! Congrats!
After the rally, students made their way back to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for financial advice from Keynote Speaker Alexa von Tobel, as well as a panel of new doctors who spoke about their experiences after optometry school.
Thursday, June 22 – Exhibit Hall and Essilor Optometry Student Bowl
One of the highlights of Optometry’s Meeting is always the exhibit hall, whose ribbon-cutting ceremony took place Wednesday afternoon. Thursday marked the first full day of the exhibit hall, where vendors and businesses set up booths for anything and everything optometry. OptometryStudents.com even had a lounge to ourselves, where we held our quarterly meeting and hung out with students overlooking the Walter E. Washington Convention Center entry hall.
During the evening, optometry students attended what is likely THE event of the year: Essilor Optometry Student Bowl. This year marked the 26th student bowl, where lighthearted competition and full-on team camaraderie are on display as schools cheer for a chance to take home the Student Bowl trophy. Each school is allowed one representative to participate on stage in a round of trivia, where questions range from simple optics to advanced treatment techniques and pathology. This year’s champion, Taylor Harris, represented Illinois College of Optometry as the winner of the 26th annual Essilor Student Bowl. In addition to winning the Student Bowl, another opportunity students rave over is the Spirit Award, which went to the University of Missouri at St. Louis, whose students will get the pleasure of making next year’s featured Rules Video. Other awards include the AOSA T-Shirt Design, which went to MCPHS, and the AOSA Virtual Spirit Award, which went to the Kentucky College of Optometry and Northeastern State University-Oklahoma College of Optometry. To continue the celebration, food and drinks were served outside of the ballroom, where many students enjoyed dancing and socializing.
Friday, June 23 – Luxottica Live!
Friday started off with the AOSA Awards, General Session, and Trivia Challenge, followed by the Optometric Residency Forum for students considering a residency after graduation. Another tradition of Optometry’s Meeting includes Luxottica Live!, where students enjoy food, drinks, and dancing the night away thanks to Luxottica. This year, students were invited to attend the event inside the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. For many students, this was their first experience at a silent disco! That’s right—instead of using speakers, attendees danced to music via wireless headphones. In addition, there were three radio stations to choose from, each with a different style of music being mixed by a live DJ. Students were able to take a break from the dance floor to enjoy pizza and ice cream, as well as a ride on the zoo’s carousel.
Saturday, June 24 – Celebration of Optometry
After the last day of the exhibit hall and student activities, the 2017 Optometry’s Meeting came to an end with the Celebration of Optometry, sponsored by Hoya. The Immediate Past President, Dr. Andrea Thau, was there to help welcome President Dr. Christopher Quinn and rest of the 2017-2018 AOA and AOSA Board of Trustees. After the ceremony, Andy Grammer took the stage to kick of the final night of Optometry’s Meeting in D.C.
Time flies, so start planning your trip to next year’s Optometry’s Meeting in Denver, CO. All of us at OptometryStudents.com hope to see you there!