HOUSTON, March 30, 2016 – With a track record of leadership dating back to high school, a second-year University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) student recently was selected to serve as the national liaison of the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) for the 2016-17 academic year.
The AOSA receives numerous applications for this position each year from students in more than 20 optometry schools across the country. Christopher Lopez, whose experiences and personal drive have culminated in this honor, is passionate about his new role and determined to enrich the lives and health of others. He served as president of his high school student body, senior class president in college and, most recently, was elected vice president of the National Optometric Student Association (NOSA) at UHCO.
The national liaison role is a prestigious responsibility for an optometry student, as they are charged with serving as a pipeline not only between the AOSA and American Academy of Optometry (AAO), but also with optometry students across the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada. The AAO represents thousands of optometric professionals, dedicated to the highest standards of optometric practice through clinical care, education and research.
"That innate quality we, as optometry students, all share – the inherent desire to improve the lives of others, the enthusiasm to live a life of service – is exactly why I wanted to become national liaison. I, too, want to be of service to others," Lopez said.
Lopez also takes to heart the AAO's mission of promoting the science of vision care through lifelong learning. In addition to the many leadership roles he's already held throughout his academic career, he is pursuing a Master of Science degree in physiological optics in conjunction with his O.D. degree, with hopes of seeking a Ph.D.
"I want to learn from investigators and fellows at AAO, as well as be someone who can contribute to the advancement of our field through research," he said.
Last summer, for example, he worked on a research project with UH clinical assistant professor of optometry Daniel Powell to evaluate dry eye status using thermal imaging to measure ocular surface temperatures. Lopez is continuing his research and expanding the scope for more applications.
With a more than 40-year tradition of leadership in optometric education, the AOSA and its national liaisons serve an important role in ensuring optometry students have an opportunity to be involved and make a broad impact across the profession. Liaisons are responsible for being attuned to trends in the profession and speaking on behalf of the more than 6,000 AOSA member students at 23 schools and colleges of optometry.
Lopez says that since the scope of optometry practice is determined by state and federal legislatures, with organizations and lobbyists working to expand that scope, one of his roles is to advocate maintaining and expanding upon practices and procedures optometrists can perform. He says as a national liaison, he will work with legislators on expand optometrists' capabilities to practice to the limits of what they are taught in school.
"Taking on a leadership role in an AOSA allied organization will allow me to assist optometry students in a productive and meaningful way so that we all may become the best optometrists we can be," he said.
About the University of Houston
The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation's best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation's fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 42,700 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country. For more information about UH, visit the university's newsroom at http://www.uh.edu/news-events/.
About the UH College of Optometry
Since 1952, the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) has educated and trained optometrists to provide the highest quality vision care. One of only 22 optometry schools in the country, UHCO offers a variety of degree programs, including Doctor of Optometry (O.D.), a combined Doctor of Optometry/Doctor of Philosophy (O.D./Ph.D.), Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). UHCO serves an average of 50,000 patients a year through The University Eye Institute and its external clinics located in the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth regions.
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