COVD recognizes that students and residents of optometry are the priceless future of our organization and the most important resource for sharing vision therapy with the next generation. With that in mind, we’re excited to introduce our new series from the incoming Student Engagement Coordinator: 

Fun Vision Spotlight with Katharine Funari!

As a student attending a national conference, at first it can seem daunting. There are so many course choices: networking opportunities, residency booth hours, fun excursions, and the ever-enticing Exhibit Hall. But even with so much going on, COVD is the one conference that makes you feel at home. Whether you are attending a new lecture or wandering around the hotel halls, the palpable sense of camaraderie emanates from each conference attendee.

For those of us students who have a passion for vision therapy, brain injury recovery, and strabismus treatment, the Continuing Education far surpassed our expectations. Learning from Dr. Galloway about Post-Concussion Syndrome, discussing the link between vision therapy and IQ with Drs. Hellerstein and Silverman, and listening to Dr. Etting’s anecdote-filled lecture on adult strabismus were only a few examples of learning opportunities that fulfilled our desire to learn more about this facet of optometry. After spending many hours filling our brains with more knowledge than would fit in our carry-on luggage, we took to the pool deck to soak up the sunshine of beautiful Jacksonville, FL. We networked and gained invaluable advice from the doctors around us while having a blast with our soon-to-be colleagues. Seeing each and every COVD Fellow share their enthusiasm with us even further ignited our passion for our beloved COVD.

After a few hours, students flocked to the Exhibit Hall. They had heard about all of the fun booths: VIVID Vision with their Virtual Reality VT system, Emergent’s fabulous flipper and occluder earrings, RightEye and their incredible eye tracking technology, and Bernell and Good-Lite with every product imaginable…just to name a few.

For those of us that participated in the Student Associate Program, working with Kris Herrick is always a blast! He kept us motivated and helped us make the Continuing Education experience enjoyable for everyone who participated. We certainly got our exercise on those days, maxing out our fitness trackers and answering questions as Q&A Assistants.

2016-17 National Student Liaison Kristin Schwab (right), International Office staff member Kris (front), and a few of this year’s Student Associates!

The Student/Resident Meeting was informative and engaging. We were able to hear about unique cases from residents and their approach to vision therapy and patient care. Directly following, we had a chance to unwind with the Student Resident Doctor Mixer, sponsored by HOYA. This was a great event allowing us to talk to residency directors, current residents, and docs with job opportunities in a more casual setting. Here is where we were really able to benefit from the fellowship of the COVD doctors. Their welcoming personalities helped students feel more comfortable and allowed for better connections and fun conversation. All in all, I believe I can safely speak for all students that exchanging our hectic student lifestyles for a short trip to Jacksonville for the COVD conference was the highlight of our semesters!

Though the week is over and we have to wait another full year to experience all that the COVD Annual Meeting has to offer, we can take comfort in remembering the words so beautifully sung at the Awards Luncheon: “I simply remember my COVD, and then I don’t feel so bad!”

-Katharine Funari
Salus University
Pennsylvania College of Optometry

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