Changing the future of optometry
Three undergraduates reflect on their time as AOP student representatives and tell OT why they would recommend applying for one of the positions
05 September 2018
The AOP is looking for optometry students with good communication skills to apply to become a student representative. Applications must be received by 15 October and representatives for the January–December 2019 period will be announced in November.
If you would like to become a student rep, visit the AOP website for more details.
OT speaks to current student representatives, Fahim Zaman (FZ) at the University of Hertfordshire, Chloe McGregor (CM) from Plymouth University, and Portsmouth University representative Raven Sinnathamby (RS), about how they act as the student voice at the AOP.
Can you highlight some of your key roles as a student representative for the AOP?
ZL: As a student representative our role is to essentially be a voice for student members. This ensures that any concerns, no matter how big or small, are addressed, allowing the AOP to meet the needs of students.
CM: This year I have visited the AOP offices in London, meeting many of the key members of the organisation and discovering even more about the services that they provide. It was also a chance to meet and get to know the representatives from the other universities. Here we were able to feedback our opinions on the support that they offer for students and discuss ways that they could tailor it to our needs in the future.
“Being a rep is an amazing opportunity for anyone wanting to be a part of something that brings about positive change”
RS: Some of my key roles as a student representative include sharing my opinions and the opinions of my peers in regard to the offering of AOP student member benefits, helping develop student initiatives and representing both my university and the AOP at events, such as 100% Optical and the AOP Awards.
How have you found the experience?
RS: I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience as an AOP student representative during the two years I have served. Being an AOP representative is a fulfilling role that does not take much time away from my studies. The experience is also a wonderful opportunity for those interested in networking. The AOP staff I have met have been both kind and supportive. I have also had the pleasure of meeting other student representatives, many of whom have become good friends of mine.
CM: This experience has been so rewarding and exciting. Many students can feel overwhelmed and intimidated by studying for examinations, applying for pre-registration placements and generally deciding where they would like their career to take them. Guiding them to the invaluable resources and support that the AOP provides has made such a positive impact and it has been great to see how beneficial they have been. I feel that this role has given me a boost in confidence and amplified the communication I have with students across all three years of the course.
FZ: Being a rep is an amazing opportunity for anyone wanting to be a part of something that brings about positive change. It gives you the ability to shape the AOP into a platform that benefits all students to help them succeed and become the best in the field.
Why would you recommend other students put themselves forward to be a representative?
CM: I would 100% recommend other students to apply to be a student representative because of the great opportunities that it provides. If you are confident communicating with your peers and want to be involved with a fantastic organisation dedicated to supporting optometrists, this would be a perfect role for you.
This role looks great on your CV and will help you stand out to future employers. Becoming a part of this highly regarded organisation has led me to feel like I am helping to change the future of optometry for both students and optometrists across the country.
FZ: There are few universities that teach optometry so being a rep gives you the chance to network with other students from each institution. Here you can make new friends and help each other get around complicated aspects of optometry by learning things from different perspectives.
“There is no doubt that being an AOP student representative will prove to be a rewarding part of your undergraduate career”
Having the ability to bring change to the AOP for the benefit of student members is a great privilege and responsibility. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a challenge and wanting to play their part in the future of the AOP and optometry as a whole.
RS: I would strongly encourage other students to put themselves forward to become a representative because it is a great way to get involved in the field. If you enjoy meeting new people, developing initiatives and sharing ideas, as well as being an ambassador for both your university and the AOP, the student representative position would be a good fit for you. There is no doubt that being an AOP student representative will prove to be a rewarding part of your undergraduate career.