PLEASE VOTE: Finalist AOP Awards: Student of the Year

PLEASE VOTE: Finalist AOP Awards: Student of the Year

VOTE NOW
The Aston undergraduate’s passion for charity has seen her travel around the world

Why do you want to be an optometrist?
I first became interested in optometry when I saw a photo of my retina at the age of eight. Over the years, I have searched for ways to further my knowledge. I appreciate the achievable work-life balance and the ever-changing technological advancements in optometry.

I also quickly learned the importance of getting your eyes checked – not only to ensure good vision, but also because eye health provides a gateway into determining a person’s overall health. At an early age, I recognised the impact that a good optometrist can have on someone’s wellbeing. Since then, it has remained my goal to become an optometrist.

What are your career aspirations?
My main goal has always been to open my own independent optometry practice, but through my experiences I have developed other goals along the way. Since travelling to Panama to provide eye exams in rural communities, I have decided that throughout my career, I will go on humanitarian trips and provide eye exams for people in developing countries.

Recently, I was awarded an undergraduate research scholarship from the College of Optometrists. As a result, I am now considering a PhD to further contribute to the field of optometry.

“Natasha

“After I travelled to Panama to provide eye exams in rural communities, I have decided that throughout my career, I will go on humanitarian trips and provide eye exams for people in developing countries”

How have you demonstrated initiative in boosting fellow students’ participation in peer activities?
Throughout my time at Aston, I have actively sought opportunities to participate and enhance awareness of optometry. In my first year, I was involved in starting a Facebook group for incoming students, creating two videos for applicants and posting them in Canadian pre-optometry forums and on Aston Optometry’s Facebook page. Also, in my second year, I was a peer mentor for first-year optometry students – a rewarding role that I plan to continue.

As the lead student ambassador for Vision Care for Homeless People (VCHP), I promote the charity to students to increase industry awareness and encourage involvement in the clinics, a unique clinical experience for students.

Furthermore, as a representative for the College of Optometrists, I liaise between students and the College, connecting students to resources specific to their needs.

In July 2015, I attended an optometry summer school in Croatia and when I returned wrote an article that provided information about how to get involved in similar experiences. My goal within my student community is to inspire others to share my passion about optometry and encourage involvement within the university and the industry.

How have you been involved in promoting the eye health message to the general public?
Through my work with VCHP, I interact with Birmingham’s homeless population to provide eye exams and spectacles.

Additionally, as an optical consultant at Boots Opticians, I promote eye health to the public by ensuring they receive quality care and understand the importance of routine eye examinations. I’ve also promoted optometry to GCSE students visiting Aston University by volunteering in student-led workshops on various optometric techniques.

“Participate in a PhD student’s experiment, act as a patient for mock OSCEs, or pursue a research scholarship – we are surrounded by an incredible group of like-minded individuals from whom we can learn and with whom we can share ideas”

What are your three top tips for first-year students?
Look for opportunities to develop skills and understand optometry beyond the lectures
Participate in a PhD student’s experiment, act as a patient for mock OSCEs, or pursue a research scholarship – we are surrounded by an incredible group of like-minded individuals from whom we can learn and with whom we can share ideas.

Ask questions to clarify lecture material, but also ask why or how things work. By questioning what you learn, you’ll open a world of possibilities for dissertation and potential PhD topics, and even improve optometry within your university.

How does it feel to be nominated and shortlisted for this award?
I was so honoured to be nominated for this award, and it is even more humbling to have been shortlisted.
VOTE NOW