What’s up readers, fans and fellow students!?
Today we have a guest article from Angelica Delgado, a SALUS 2014 Optometry Student who went above and beyond to learn more about optometry and to get herself involved in the profession. Her story is both inspiring and informative and it is students like her who will go on to do great things for optometry. After reading over Angelica’s article in my inbox one early morning, it dawned on me that experiences like hers can really give you a competitive edge during your first year of optometry school.
Here is her special article about getting involved with optometry schools while you are a pre-optometry student; is this program for you?
Take it away Angelica!
Some people dream of success while others wake up and work for it. My parents have instilled this belief in me since my first day of school. Immigrants from Ecuador, my parents’ dream both common and selfless was to improve the next generation. I was lucky. I had very early received the proper education and support, graduating second from my High School, I had set the bar high. This was to become a doctor of optometry.
In college, I decided to explore the profession by working as a sales associate in corporate optical. It was everything you would expect from any corporate business; competitive, fast-pace and sales driven. My exposure was not substantial to pursue optometry as a long-term career. Somewhat hesitant and curious, in my Sophomore year of college, I decided to participate in SUNY State College of Optometry’s CSTEP 2-week winter internship.
What is CSTEP? CSTEP (Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program) is a New York State Education program that provides minority or economically disadvantaged students with the support and guidance in applying to professional schools. As a CSTEP student at my college, St. John’s University, I knew this program would be the best way to determine if optometry would be the right fit for me.
Located in State University of New York (SUNY), State College of Optometry and the University Eye Center, this two week internship was eye opening. In the first week, I was introduced to the admissions process, fundamentals of the eye, curriculum and patient interaction. Speakers included 4th year students, vice president of student affairs, Dr. Johnson, and faculty members, Dr. Carter and Dr. J. Feldman. This was the time to ask questions and to listen. In the afternoons, we divided into groups of 3-4 students to shadow 3rd and 4th years students in the University Eye Center in different clinics such as, Vision Therapy, Ocular Disease, Primary Care, Contact Lens, and Pediatrics. Students presenting to their supervisors were both informative and steadfast. I also had the opportunity to interact with patients by translating in Spanish. Both my interest and optometric vocabulary grew with in the first week.
Besides shadowing students, we also made site visits to local practicing optometrists. Different modes of practice from low vision to group practice, were introduced to us. It gave an inkling to the possibilities of private practice and the continued growth of optometry.
I never had an eye examination until the last week of my internship. At the age of twenty, I was getting a full comprehensive eye exam with dilation. I did not need glasses but I was in the need of artificial tears to soothe my dry eyes. This made me see optometry beyond 1 and 2.
As the saying goes all things must come to an end. On our last day we made one final field trip to the Light House International, located on 111 East 59th Street. It was quite a profound experience having to witness the challenges that a visually impaired person has day to day. This was a perfect closing note to the program.
Improving diversity in optometric careers is important as our society becomes more culturally evolved. This program provides information on optometry through mentorship, leadership, shadowing, and one-on-one exposure. It was both a positive and enlightening experience that I encourage interested students to apply. Several schools are now aiming to improve diversity in optometry. The following programs are available and be sure to contact student affairs for additional information.
Illinois College of Optometry: Focus on Your Future Summer Program
The Ohio State University College of Optometry: The Improving Diversity of Optometric Learners (IDOL) Program
Pacific University College of Optometry: Insight
Pennsylvania College of Optometry: Summer Enrichment Program
State University of New York Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program
University off California Berkeley Optometry Berkeley Optometry Opto-Camp
University of Houston College of Optometry: Optometry Career Opportunities Program (TEXOCOP)