Nicole.jpgIn 2016, “The Bowl” officially celebrated 25 years of its first competition. Dating back to 1991, the competitive game-show style tradition was the brainchild of Dr. Rod Tahran, Essilor’s former vice president of professional relations, and Danne Ventura, Essilor’s former director of professional education. The two initially conceived the idea and brought it to the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) perhaps not thinking about what it would eventually become.

The first Optometry Student Bowl (originally penned the Optometry Super Bowl) was held in Chicago in 1992. Since then, it has taken off and has become a night for students to “really let their hair down, have fun and show off their knowledge,” according to Ventura. It has also helped evolve the profession of optometry in which many of the contestants and winners have had a history of becoming state association presidents and key opinion leaders in the years since. “I watched the first student leader I worked with on the Optometry Student Bowl mature into one of the most well-known and respected researchers and lecturers in the United States,” Ventura said in the American Optometric Association’s article about the history of the event.

Linda,-Ian.JPGThe excitement and energy has always stuck out as the contestants are eager to represent their school and classmates well; combined with a seriousness about optometry facts and collegiality all rolled into a signature experience for those in attendance at the annual Optometry’s Meeting. In fact, every school or college of optometry sends a student, and over the past 28 years, the competition has remained roughly the same. According to Ventura, “The first (competition) had 19 schools and as schools have opened up, they have sent contestants totaling 25. As another competitive element, the Spirit Award was introduced in 2008.” The school infused with the most spirit is responsible for producing a creative interpretation of the Student Bowl “rules video,” which always has an underlying theme sometimes associated with the city in which the conference is held.

Up until 2016, PCO along with Ohio State University, Northeastern State University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Southern College of Optometry each held three wins, tied for first, in overall Student Bowl wins. In 2018, Northeastern State University once again took home the title.

The first time a student from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) won was J. William “Bill” Barnes, OD ’02.  It was also the first time Dr. David Seibel hosted, who has become a staple as the emcee. PCO’s most recent winners are listed here.   

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This year, Annie Govan ‘20OD will represent PCO at the 28th annual Student Bowl. We wish her the best of luck!