Written By: Amanda Howarth, ASCO Intern
Four months ago I joined the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry as an intern, and I could not be happier with my decision. In my short time here, I cannot believe how many new skills I’ve gained and how much I’ve learned about the field of optometry. Knowing virtually nothing about optometry before I started working here, I am leaving with a greater knowledge and appreciation of just how important the work of an optometrist is. I was surprised to learn how many daily activities and habits can influence eye health and that so many of us, including myself, are unaware of common, eye-damaging behaviors. Even though I am not planning on becoming a medical professional, I feel optometry is an exciting field to enter, with the opportunity to truly make impactful changes on patients’ lives.
In addition to learning about optometry and vision health at my ASCO internship, I believed I have gained new skills and worked on tasks that I genuinely enjoyed. I especially loved interviewing Dr. Damari, ASCO’s incoming president, whose love and excitement for optometry are evident. (That interview will be published in the Summer edition of Eye on Education). I was excited every time Kim O’Sullivan, Director of Communications, asked me to write a new blog post for Eye on Optometry or to write an article for ASCO’s newsletter, Eye on Education. I was also given the opportunity to interview students from Pre-Optometry clubs in the United States and it was interesting to learn what sparked their interest in optometry. (That blog post should be posted soon). I enjoyed learning the behind-the-scenes work behind ASCO Connect, the virtual community designed and built for ASCO faculty, committee members and others to help them network, add their voice to optometry discussions, and stay updated with ASCO events. Finally, I also enjoyed working with Joanne Zuckerman, Manager of Data Services and Special Projects, as she helped me learn how to turn optometry school applicant data into visuals such as graphs and charts for the public to better understand.
As a senior at The George Washington University, graduating this month with majors in public health and biology, I am leaving ASCO with new skills to take into my future job and a greater understanding of the workings behind a non-profit organization. I believe that what I have learned about the importance of good eye health is something that I will always take with me into the public health field. I am grateful for my time here at ASCO and thankful I have had the opportunity to meet many people who are so passionate for their work. Every ASCO employee has been so kind, genuine, and helpful. I am sad to be leaving ASCO so soon, but so grateful for the experiences I have had and the amazing people I have met.