I have always felt that leadership is not about giving orders and being outspoken, but rather it is about building those around you up. This is what this month’s Student In Focus winner, Sandra Bui, does to a “T.” Sandra is in the class of 2019 at the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) (a.k.a. the BEST optometry school in the country).
Sandra is one of the most involved, helpful, and genuinely nice people at our school. For starters, she serves as UHCO’s AOSA trustee, where she provides students with information the AOSA distributes and facilitates correspondence between local and national AOSA Liaisons. She is also the Class Noteservice Coordinator, NOSA Vice-President, and involved with SVOSH. Sandra selflessly volunteers her time to vision screenings, clinic practice sessions, and Toys for Tots drives.
Sandra performs an insane amount of duties for the student community and goes above and beyond in her leadership responsibilities. Below is an interview with Sandra for you to get a better understanding of her interests and passion for optometry.
Where are you from and what’s your favorite thing about home? I was born and raised in Houston, TX. There are so many things I love about H-town! One of my favorite things is the cultural and gastronomic diversity, which can be experienced through festival events held year-round.
What’s your favorite hobby? When time permits, I love learning new languages. I am currently fluent in English and Vietnamese, but would love to be fluent in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese one day.
How did you become interested in optometry? It began when I was watching Pokemon on a Saturday morning back in 1999. My parents noticed I was sitting awfully close to the TV and decided to take me to an optometrist that afternoon. After having my first eye exam and receiving my first pair of glasses, my parents noticed I was a bit more comfortable talking to people (prior to this, I was extremely shy). The world wasn’t a big blurry blob anymore, and that helped me slowly break out of my shyness shell.
Fast forward to my freshman year at Texas A&M: one of my professors asked us what childhood memory left an impact on our lives and how we could tie that into deciding our future career choice. I immediately thought of the day I had my first eye exam and my interest in optometry just grew from there.
How has optometry school changed how you view optometry? Before optometry school, I didn’t realize there was so much legislation involved in optometry. When I learned about what the American Optometric Association (AOA), the Texas Optometric Association (TOA), and other state affiliates do for optometry, I knew I wanted to be a part of the battle. Without organizations like the AOA and TOA, we wouldn’t be able to give our patients the best quality of care they deserve. Being in optometry school made me realize our scope of practice is always changing and it takes tremendous effort to keep what we already have and to further expand our profession.
What is your favorite TV show? Movie? TV Show: Grey’s Anatomy will always be my guilty pleasure no matter how long it drags on. A more recent favorite is Westworld. Movie: Mean Girls
What motivates you? The fact that I can help so many people see and even save lives keeps me going. If I am ever lacking motivation, I remind myself of this quote: “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.” – Simon Sinek
Why is leadership important to you? Leaders inspire others to become leaders, is that too cliché? Optometry is what it is today because of the leadership of countless doctors who helped shape and advance our profession. These countless doctors inspired me to pursue leadership myself in hopes of positively impacting optometry. It’s really just paying it forward – leaders before me have worked so hard to pave the way, why not continue that?