Our Student in Focus series continues to highlight individuals who go above and beyond the classroom. This month’s Student in Focus is Tyler Lee, a current third year at IAUPR. Tyler’s leadership, passion for the profession, and extracurricular involvement has earned him the nomination for April’s Student in Focus!
OptometryStudents.com chatted with Tyler about IAUPR, the importance of leadership, and the importance of involvement.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Tyler Lee and I am currently a third year student at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico School of Optometry (IAUPR). I was born and raised in Nebraska, so with that being said, I am a die-hard Cornhusker fan. I come from a small town and by small town I mean a population of 700. I partake in many extracurricular on campus beginning with being the Executive Student Council Vice-President, AOA-PAC local liaison, Orientation Committee Activities Coordinator, and also served on the AOSA House of Delegates for two years.
Going to school in Puerto Rico has its perks – I love getting the opportunity to go to the beach, which is usually only about twice per semester. I also like to sit down during dinner and watch an episode of Arrow or The Flash on Netflix. To help relieve some of the stress from hitting the books, I enjoy going for a run in the evenings or doing a quick workout of “Insanity.”
Where do you see yourself after graduation?
I see myself practicing in Nebraska after I graduate. I would like to join a practice as a partner or start my own private practice.
Leadership is a trait that I have not always had, but it is very important to me now. Going into my second year of school, I received a call from the past Vice-President of the AOSA asking me to take a position as the local liaison of the AOA-PAC. I was very hesitant at first, but looking back, I would say that it was one of the most rewarding and educational decisions I have made. I learned that with a hard work ethic, one voice can be heard and that I can help amplify and spread the voice of other students. From the initial time that I was appointed AOA-PAC liaison, we had no students involved with the PAC committee. Now one year later, we have over sixty students wanting to be involved in the movement. It has been a very rewarding experience.
Can you tell us a little bit about AOA-PAC?
AOA-PAC is a phenomenal organization. If you don’t know what AOA-PAC is, it is the Political Action Committee. PAC helps raise awareness and monetary funds for the ongoing battle in Washington D.C. during the annual Congressional Advocacy Conference (CAC). When I was asked to take over, I didn’t know much about the current issues in our profession and laws that were being passed (including those that benefited optometry but also the ones that were detrimental to our profession). I wanted to help and be a part of this cause. I came across a quote once that stuck with me: “If you’re not moving forward, someone else is.” It is our responsibility as the future of the optometric profession to help “keep moving forward.”
Do you think it is important for students to attend CAC in the future?
I would stress the importance of attending the CAC to students. It is the opportunity of a lifetime to work alongside other students and future colleagues that share similar values as you. It’s a great networking opportunity and you get to voice your opinions on a national level to your state legislature. There is also the possibility of job opportunities arising. The optometrists that attend this conference are working diligently for their states and see that you the student are investing your time and resources in the ongoing battle as well. I can promise you, go to CAC and it will be worth it.
Congratulations, Tyler! Be on the look out for more optometry students as we search the nation for more to recognize! Do you know someone who deserves to be highlighted for the next Student in Focus? Nominate them here!