FaPCO at AOAculty, students and administration alike from the University’s Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) took over St. Louis, Mo. June 19-23 for the 122nd American Optometric Association (AOA) Congress and 49th American Optometric Student Association Conference (AOSA), better known as Optometry’s Meeting. 

In the hometown of the AOA, it was the perfect opportunity for the association to host a Block Party with live music and some of the best food trucks in the world, a parade that recognized industry supporters, a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Exhibit Hall opening, a National Optometry Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, a wine and cheese tasting, poster presentations, the Optometry Cares 5K Run/Walk and much more. 

Two highlights for PCO were: The Alumni and Friends Reception at the Marriott St. Louis Grand and the Essilor Optometry Student Bowl XXVIII in which Annie Govan ‘20OD competed against contestants from 24 schools and colleges of optometry in pursuit of the crystal trophy also known as the Ventura Cup in honor of one of the competition’s founders, Danne Ventura. Govan was the winner of PCO’s 2018 Quiz Bowl which landed her the top spot for the national competition. 

On Thursday evening, Govan made it to the final round of nine contestants, but admitted the competition - although a surreal experience - was intimidating. “I admit at one point freezing on stage and I had to get myself back in the game,” she said. PCO students came out in full force to support her and embodied the wild theme of “Welcome to PCO’s Jungle.” “The energy was great, it is an electric atmosphere,” Govan said. 

As the winner of PCO’s 2019 Quiz Bowl, Ilan Dock ‘21OD is set to compete next year in Washington, D.C. and Govan is hopeful he can bring home the trophy, but recommends practicing especially with the buzzer. 

At the same time approximately 85 to 90 alumni and friends were mingling at the annual alumni and friends reception, Andrew Muckin ‘21OD was representing PCO in Walmart Stores, Inc. Project Foresight Scholarship Reception and Awards Presentation. The project included an essay and interview-based contest focused on “How can Walmart improve its current practice model as it pertains to their vision services?”

Students underwent an in-person interview in which they needed to defend their business proposal. Muckin received a $1,000 scholarship in addition to a travel grant to attend Optometry’s Meeting.

“My essay focused on building long-term relationships with recent optometry grads by offering longer contracts, and investing in the technology and services to allow these doctors to practice medical optometry to the fullest extent of their licenses,” he said. “Through these changes, I contested that patient outcomes and satisfaction would improve through increased continuity of care and access to medical services.”

To culminate the successful meeting, PCO dean Dr. Melissa Trego received a resolution from the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) “that the Board of Directors of ASCO formally recognize the entire Pennsylvania College of Optometry family – its faculty, staff, students, alumni, administrators, and board members, for their remarkable and noble accomplishments during this jubilee event; and be it further resolved that ASCO extends its heartfelt congratulations and earnest best wishes upon the auspicious occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the College of Optometry at Salus University.” 

As the official meeting of the AOA and AOSA which represents more than 44,000 doctors of optometry, optometric professionals and optometry students, the annual conference culminated with “A Celebration of Optometry at Cardinals Nation” on Saturday, June 22.