SCO welcomes state associations to annual event

February 22, 2012

Addressing students at the fourth-annual State Day are, from left, Chris Eiler, O.D., from Tennessee; Jeff Kempf, O.D., from Illinois; Mark Shirey, O.D., from Alabama; David Parker, O.D., from Mississippi; Melissa Schwebach Wood, O.D., from South Carolina; Rusty Simmons, O.D., from Arkansas; Chris King, O.D., from Florida; and Ben Gaddie, O.D., from Kentucky.

More than 300 Southern College of Optometry (SCO) students attended the school’s fourth-annual State Day event hosting nearly 30 representatives from state and national optometric associations. The event was designed to promote the importance of organized optometry to students on campus.

Students heard a keynote address by AOA Secretary-Treasurer David Cockrell, O.D., a 1981 SCO graduate. He discussed the importance of both membership in the AOA and the importance of participating in AOA-PAC as a student.

“It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to join the leaders of the affiliates in talking to the students at the Southern College of Optometry State Day,” said Dr. Cockrell. “We had the opportunity to briefly discuss the changes in optometry over the past several years and look to the very bright future for our profession during their professional careers. We were able to discuss the volunteer activities by ODs that have helped advance our profession and encourage their participation in as many volunteer opportunities as they are able to during their professional school activities. I look forward to seeing their future accomplishments and am very pleased to welcome all of them to our profession.”

Panelists representing 16 state associations also participated in question and answer sessions with students. The panels allowed students to interact and learn more about the state of optometry and the need for students to get involved early in networking and becoming engaged with the AOA and their state associations.

Chris King, O.D., speaks with students about the Florida Optometric Association.

The program continued with an afternoon “State Fair.” State associations were allocated booths to provide information and meet one on one with students. A number of student clubs joined representatives from their home states at dinner to conclude the evening.

In addition to the AOA, representatives were in attendance from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. This year’s representation included four states participating for the first time.

AOA Secretary-Treasurer David Cockrell, O.D., and Nora Cothran, Southern College of Optometry student and AOA-PAC liaison. Dr. Cockrell is a 1981 SCO graduate. He discussed the importance of both membership in the AOA and the importance of participating in AOA-PAC as a student.

“Since we first launched this event in 2009, we’ve been pleased to see interest grow in facilitating these networking events both here at SCO and at other schools of optometry,” said Kristin K. Anderson, O.D., SCO vice president of Institutional Advancement.

“State Day allows our students the opportunity to interact and learn more about the benefits of involvement in their state, regional and national associations,” Dr. Anderson said. “We appreciate organized optometry’s enthusiasm about our program as it continues to grow each year.”

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