Raelyn Ottenbreit is a member of the American Optometric Student Association Board of Trustees. She is now the AOSA Trustee for Rosenberg School of Optometry. Born and raised in Regina, SK, Canada, Raelyn is proud to be Canadian. Number seven of eight children, with four in-laws and 22 nieces and nephews, you guessed it, she’s proud to be Catholic too! It’s her love of optometry and desire to help people see the beautiful world we live in that helped her to make the long journey away from her many loved ones to attend RSO in San Antonio, TX. She’s confident in her decision and happy to be part of the optometry family, especially the AOSA part!
OS: What has been the best part about being a member of the AOSA Board of Trustees?
RO: It has introduced me to so many amazing people. When I started optometry school, I figured I would break my usual mold of not being overly involved in many school activities and join some clubs at RSO. In doing so, I met our previous Trustee who called me one day to tell me I should apply for the position of AOSA Trustee Elect (I had deleted the email because I didn’t know what it was). I am so thankful for her phone call – it has opened so many doors and brought so many wonderful people into my life.
OS: What do you think is the best advantage that AOSA brings to students?
RO: The AOSA connects you with so many aspects of optometry and gives you the chance to pursue your interests by providing the resources to do so.
OS: What have you learned from being apart of the AOSA Board of Trustees?
RO: In pursuing your dream, it really helps to know people to help you on the way. Luckily, optometry is a big family, so just getting involved and going out and meeting members of the “family” is a great first step.
OS: What do you think is the best way for optometry students to get involved in optometry outside of school life?
RO: Go to any events put on by the clubs at your school. Go to Optometry’s Meeting (or any of the optometry conferences throughout the year) and talk to people: doctors, industry, and students from other schools. Optometry is a family, so take the time to get to know each other.
OS: Do you plan on doing a residency? If so in what area?
RO: I’m undecided: one day I’m excited and confident about doing a residency, the next I just want to start practicing as soon as I’m done with school. I’m still testing the waters and determining where my interests lie as far as what area I would do one in. I have some time to mull things over, so I’m going to use it to make the best decision for my career path.
OS: Tell us one interesting fact about yourself.
RO: I painted myself in yellow body paint and went as SWAP (Short-Wavelength Automated Perimetry) for Halloween last year.
OS: What was your most interesting job?
RO: After undergrad, I worked at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as a Food Inspector. My position encompassed a few different areas and had me driving all over the land of living skies (Saskatchewan) inspecting fresh fruit and vegetable shipments, jam making facilities, dairy plants, and honey extracting facilities. Before I left, I held the (Canadian) Western Area Honey Specialist position which had me in charge of the Honey Inspectors throughout Western Canada. Western Canadian creamed honey is something you should try – I eat it by the spoonful.
OS: Where do you see yourself practicing after graduation and in what type of setting?
RO: I see myself practicing close to home and my family, whether back in Western Canada, or Northwestern USA. I think I would like to join a practice, but am still unsure of the specifics.
OS: What has been your greatest achievement so far?
RO: In school, surviving second year with a reasonably low number of emotional and mental breakdowns would rank high on the list. In life, I like to think that I’m good at developing and maintaining good relationships with loved ones. What’s life without the people you love?
OS: If you could go to dinner with someone famous who would it be?
RO: I would love to sit and chat with Pope Francis. I’m so impressed with his easy ability to explain the good, simple things in life we need to do to be good Christians, like loving babies and your grandparents.
OS: If you had a time machine to go back in time what would you change in history and why?
RO: Everything happens for a reason.
OS: If you were stranded on an island and you could only bring three things what would they be?
RO: Are there any restrictions or rules to this? My iPad, loaded with pictures, books, music, card games, and FaceTime/Skype to talk to my peeps. Some Canadian creamed honey. And a good volleyball, because if I’m stranded on an island, I’m assuming I didn’t get stranded alone and must have at least a small crew of some of the amazing people in my life there with me to play some beach volleyball while we wait to be rescued!