This was my first trip SECO, and it definitely met and exceeded my expectations! If you haven’t attended yet, you should plan on making the trip at least once during your student career. SECO organizers make the extra effort to create a beneficial and fun student experience. The student programs and CE’s were a great learning experience, I loved the random advice or job prospects I’d get from OD’s roaming the exhibit hall, and the events and parties were a blast (Foreigner concert!). Then there’s the little things that made the difference: the southern hospitality, the $100 student stipend, the free lunches and dinners, the discounted hotel rates, the free drinks and food at parties and events (and on the exhibit hall floor toward closing time, at a bar where you could watch the SEC basketball tourney, relax and mingle with the crowd)…all these things that SECO organizers kept in mind for students are what makes me want to go back next year!
Here’s the SECO experience from the perspective of the rest of the OS.com team who attended:
Nick Green, OSCO 1st year, First Year Optometry Student Journalist:
Southern hospitality meets optometry at SECO 2014, where you can learn about the newest contact lenses and latest refractive technologies while eating Chick-Fil-A. This is all with a big smile on everyone’s face. In addition to exploring the exhibit floor (where I was able to get many freebies including a metal water bottle, contact lens samples, and free drinks at the bar!), students can take any number of CE course offerings for free. I was fortunate to go to classes about therapeutic contact lenses and traumatic brain injuries, all taught by lecturers who were at the forefront of their specialties. At night there were concerts and parties specifically for students, which included more free drinks and food too!
The most important benefit from this whole program was the ability to network. I was able to talk to multiple state organizations about job opportunities, meet students from other schools, and introduce myself to doctors who are very active and influential in optometry. If there’s any reason to go to SECO (or any optometry conference for that matter), it’s for the networking opportunities. Oh, and it’s not a bad way to spend Spring Break either!
Conventions like SECO have everything to offer for any current or new grad optometrist or student. Upon entering the floor, the vibrant atmosphere draws in students and professionals alike. It allows the congregation of different professions and sects of the optometric field to learn, share, and discuss, from O.D. techs to optometrists all around the country. The convention holds continuing education classes that allow speakers from private practices or specialized care, and any updates in technology available to patients. It was invigorating to see the variety of professionals in the optometric field share their own experiences and welcome new students and professionals into the community.
Sylvester Nguyen, NOVA 2nd year, Chief of 2nd Year Optometry Students:
Despite SECO being on one of the busiest weekends of the year, I’m glad I took the time out to make the trip . It was an amazing experience, and really sparked my excitement about becoming an OD again. From having the opportunity to meet many new students from Southern and Western U (among other schools) and learning about their programs, to having the chance to network with established doctors, SECO really helped broaden my perspective on optometry.
Even though we’re immersed with optometric education everyday at school, I think that getting out to shows like SECO really helps with understanding the “big picture” view of our future profession. SECO was a great opportunity to see what optometry as a profession is really about. Overall, I had such a great time and can’t wait to share my experience with my classmates and incoming classes as well!
Tyler Phan, WUCO 4th year, Senior Low Vision Journalist:
SECO is a fantastic conference for students to attend. The high quality continuing education courses in addition to social events sure made a trip to Atlanta, Georgia worthwhile. I appreciate that SECO encourages students’ attendance with the $100 stipend. My favorite parts were rocking out to Foreigner’s concert and touring the CNN headquarters!
Hunter Chapman, SCO 2nd year, Director of Optometry School Relations, AOSA National Liaison of the AOA-PAC:
SECO is a conference that every student and optometric physician should experience! The
atmosphere in the exhibit hall was always exciting, and the CE’s were immensely informative and fun. Each late afternoon, there are opportunities for attendees to network, whether students or optometrists, and these events transitioned into fun, scheduled parties for each night. Because of my overall experience, I will certainly be attending SECO again!
Any other students out there who had a great time at SECO? Share your experience in the comments below!