Never let it be said that April Mishley ‘23OD and Fayaz Vizam ‘24OD don’t know how to celebrate a big accomplishment.
Winners of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) at Salus University 2022 Quiz Bowl, Mishley marked the occasion by packing for a contact lens conference she was attending the next day. Vizam whooped it up by going for tacos with a friend.
Quiz Bowl winnersBut the low-key post-Quiz Bowl celebrations did nothing to take away from the fact that both PCO/Salus students were thrilled to participate in their first Quiz Bowl and even more excited about their winning performances.
“I had a few pregame jitters but I calmed down using some deep-breathing techniques,” said Mishley, who got a little help from the “Mindfulness Breathe” application on her watch.
She said she didn’t do anything special to prepare for the Quiz Bowl, and just relied on the studying she had already done for boards.
“The most difficult and challenging aspect of the quiz bowl was the optics questions,” said Mishley. “The best thing about competing in the event was that all the contestants were super friendly.”
Vizam, too, didn’t do anything special to prepare for the Quiz Bowl, deciding to just “go in headfirst.”
“I was honestly shocked that I won. I went into the competition with zero expectations,” said Vizam.
The biggest challenge, he said, was reading the questions quickly and not misinterpreting them.
“Even after I raised my hand to answer the question, I would reread the question in like two seconds to make sure I interpreted it correctly,” he said. “What I liked best about the competition was that it was a way to have fun with the material we’ve spent two years learning. I’m glad the hard work paid off.”
Dating back to 1991 on the national level, the Optometry Student Bowl — known as “The Bowl” — is a competitive game-show style tradition designed for students to let their hair down and have fun showing off their knowledge of optometry from questions crafted by judges who are faculty members. Winners from optometry schools across the country then compete at Optometry’s Meeting (OM), the annual meeting of the American Optometric Association (AOA) and the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA, planned this year for June 15-18, in Chicago.
This year’s PCO/Salus judges included Bisant Labib, OD ‘14, Resident ‘15, FAAO, Dipl., CEC; Rachel Brackley, OD ‘09, Resident ‘10, FAAO; Bhawan Minhas, OD, Resident ‘14, FAAO; Christin DeMoss, OD ‘17, Resident ‘18; Erin Draper, OD ‘09, Resident ‘10, FAAO; and James Deom, OD ‘14, MPH ‘14, FAAO.
Quiz Bowl winnersAlissa Coyne, OD ‘10, Resident ‘11, FAAO, served as the event’s emcee. Drs. Draper and Deom are also trustees of the Pennsylvania Optometric Association (POA).
“It was a great event and felt almost 'normal' to have a live, in-person program with the students,” said Dr. Labib. “I was so impressed with the Quiz Bowl candidates who were eager and full of knowledge.” Dr. Coyne was a great emcee and the student audience was really engaged in the competition. The judges are very excited for the student winners to represent PCO at AOA.
The PCO/Salus winners this year will now go on to compete in the national competition at OM. Mishley will compete in this year’s event in Chicago and Vizam will compete at the 2023 OM.
Tyler Lesko ‘22OD took home the Quiz Bowl championship for PCO/Salus last year.
“I’m nervous to compete at Optometry's Meeting in June,” said Mishley. “Since last year's PCO/Salus representative won I feel the pressure to do the same.”

In addition to the Quiz Bowl winners, PCO/Salus student Taylor Champagne ‘23OD, won the POA travel grant for this year’s conference.