ASCO Intern Interviews AOSA President Easy Anyama

July 21, 2022

Michelle Vaca has been an intern with ASCO since June 2021 and will be heading to the New England College of Optometry in the fall to start her Doctor of Optometry program. Michelle traveled with ASCO to AOA’s 2022 Optometry’s Meeting in Chicago this year and had the opportunity to meet and interview the current AOSA President and University of Houston Optometry Student Easy Anyama. Read below to get to know Easy and his experiences as an optometry student.  

MV: Hi Easy, it is so good to meet you. My name is Michelle Vaca and I am an intern with ASCO. I will be an OD1 in September and like many other optometry students, I love to read blog posts on ASCO’s Blog. I can’t believe I am now writing one for ASCO!  

I watched your video blogs (Easy on the Eyes Part 1 and Part 2) you made for ASCO where you talked about how you discovered optometry. Can you tell us a little bit more about that and why the optometry field appealed to you?  

EA: Hi Michelle, it is a pleasure to meet you. Of course, I can talk about how I discovered optometry. In undergrad, I played football and began to train to hopefully be recruited by the NFL. In the midst of training, I also began to look for a job and landed upon an opportunity to be an optometric tech. The doctor in the office hired me and I enjoyed working alongside the doctor. 

 In particular, I observed how well the practice ran and the energy the doctor had; this all made me curious to look more into the profession. I thought, if the NFL does not work out for me, I want to pursue optometry, and I did just that. I studied for the OAT and applied to schools, especially University Houston College of Optometry. I am very happy with my decision to go to optometry school. The doctors I worked for went to Houston College of Optometry. I attended the University of Texas and Texas State University for undergrad.

MV: Wow that is awesome Easy, what a unique story. Now that you have experience being an optometry student, I can imagine you have techniques to keep on top of your school material, can you share some of them with us?  

EA: Yeah, I have a couple I can share. I think it is important to stay on task and be proactive about assignments and tests that are coming up in the week. I liked to use the imagery of treating each day like a pancake. You can eat it or you can let it stack up and you will have flapjacks at the end of the week. The earlier you do things the better.  

I also tell everyone to rely on classmates. We are not in a competition; in four years we will be colleagues. Also, do not be afraid of reaching out to faculty. It is also important to not be afraid to change your study strategies from undergrad.  

MV: That is some great advice, I will definitely be taking it. So, Easy, I have the honor of speaking to the AOSA president today, can you tell us what the AOSA is/does and how you got involved with them?  

EA: Yes, the AOSA, the American Optometric Student Association, represents 7,000 students from 25 schools. It is the premier and only student representation looking to empower students in optometry through education, success, advocacy, and student experience. AOSA has affiliates and liaisons that work with students and they even host events and workshops based on student needs.  

I got involved with the AOSA by researching the organization since I knew of some doctors who are a part of it. I also learned about the Optometry Student Bowl and as I started optometry school it was something I became more and more interested in until one day a trustee-elect told me I may be a good fit for the AOSA and here I am now serving as president.  

MV: What is your role as AOSA president and how can other students get involved? 

EA: My role as president is to oversee all 55 trustee-elects and executive council. I am also in charge of helping the organization stick to our mission, planning Optometry’s meeting, and communicating with state affiliates and American Optometric Association Board of Trustees. Essentially, I serve as a connector and facilitator for Optometry Students 

If you want to get involved, join your school’s AOSA chapter. At some schools you will automatically be a member.  If you want to be a trustee, however, you will need to be elected by your school at the end of your first year. From then you can run for the national executive council. It’s important to know that you can still be a member of the AOSA and do amazing things without being an elected officer. We have several students who contribute to the organization by writing articles, submitting media or whatever else they can share with the nation’s students.  

MV: Aside from the AOSA, what other extra-curricular activities have you been a part of as an optometry student?  

EA: There are a lot that I can think of. I have enjoyed volunteering for ASCO and working on blogs like yourself. Also, the privilege of serving on several committees at the local and national level has been rewarding. Other activities I have enjoyed are conducting workshops at elementary schools and conducting research for a low vision clinical trial.  

MV: Looking back on your time as an optometry student, what advice do you have for someone like myself who will be starting school in the fall?  

EA: I think you need to consider if optometry is ready for you and what is optometry bringing to the table? I can assure you you are bringing something to the table too. I also would advise incoming students to explore what resources their school offers you. Also don’t be afraid to reach out to doctors, go to events, and meet doctors who will pave the way for your future.

I think a lot of students worry about if they are ready for optometry and professional school.  I would like to encourage those students to consider if optometry and school is ready for them. They will bring a new perspective and new experiences to the profession and we cannot get ahead without that.

MV: Thanks so much for that wonderful advice. I am sure I will be taking this advice as will other incoming students like myself. Once again Easy, thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to interview with ASCO. We really appreciate it and wish you the best of luck!