Have you ever wondered what it takes to plan a 3-day 2-night optometry student convention catering to over 150 students with a starting budget of $0.00?
Each year at IAU Puerto Rico School of Optometry the incoming student council must plan the Eyeland of Enchantment, which takes place annually in January at one of the island’s most beautiful resorts. This year, I was voted as IAUPR’s 2013-14 Student Council President, and therefore the council and I were transformed into event planners over night. The first thought on our minds was: “Where are we going to come up with the funds to plan a $35,000+ event?”
The most amazing thing about entering into the profession of optometry is the limitless support given to optometry students through sponsorship. The big players in the optometric world, including VSP®, Wal-Mart, HOYA, CooperVision and Allergan, have provided optometry students with many scholarship and grant opportunities to make our experience during school as exciting as possible.
Other companies such as Ocular Instruments, Pioneer, National Vision Inc., Richmond Products, Good-Lite and Lawrence Eyewear have also been involved in many student events, contributing funds as well as product donations. Additionally, organizations such as the College of Optometrists in Visual Development (COVD) and the Optometric Extension Program Foundation (OEPF) are constantly providing informational resources to students attending these events.
As avid optometry convention attendees, the IAUPR Student Council has been able to network with many of the student activity coordinators at each of these companies, which gives us the ability to obtain sponsors for the 2014 Eyeland of Enchantment! The sponsors in turn were able to attend the convention as exhibitors as well as speakers in order to interact with the students directly, and to provide us with more information about their role in optometry.
The Eyeland of Enchantment took place on January 17-19th, 2014 at the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. The resort consists of over 400 acres of beautiful landscape and golf courses, 11 restaurants and lounges, over 600 guest suites, 2 swimming pools, a full casino, as well as its own beach! The venue is chosen by the student council and the itinerary for the weekend is planned up to 6 months prior to the event. With over 150 students attending, it is an excellent opportunity for the attendees to receive current information on trending topics in optometry during the exhibitor event, which takes place on the first night of the convention. Students gathered into the banquet hall to enjoy beverages while interacting with the sponsors at each of their booths, which were filled with giveaways and informational brochures. Later, attendees enjoyed a full buffet at the “Jungle Party” themed welcome dinner sponsored by VSP®.
The next day consisted of lectures from several of the sponsors, which included a visit from Dr. Ida Chung, COVD president elect, as part of the COVD Tour de Optometry. Wal-Mart Health and Wellness, VSP, National Vision Inc., and Allergan also provided representatives to talk to the students about how to succeed after graduation.
As is tradition at IAUPR’s Eyeland of Enchantment, each class year competed against each other for the title of Beach Game Champions. To win, each class year must perform a dance routine, compete in a beach volleyball tournament and relay race, and test their strength in a competitive tug of war.
The winners of this year’s trophy were the IAUPR Class of 2017! The trophy was handed out during the “Roaring 20/20 Experience” dinner later that evening. Sponsor donor prizes, which included an iPad mini sent from HOYA, were raffled to the students. The night was topped off with a party, where administration, sponsors, and students dressed their best and danced the night away.
The weekend was a memorable kick-off to the semester, and the students at IAUPR quickly converted back into study mode upon returning to school. As for next year’s student council, this year’s Eyeland of Enchantment may be difficult to outdo!
Chief of Private Practice Optometry
Jeannine Gutierrez M.S.
IAUPR c/o 2015