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Doctor of Optometry/Master of Public Health student Esther Ko.

Esther Ko OD ’19 Named Treasurer of American Optometric Student Association

  • Esther Ko OD ’19 has been named treasurer of the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) executive council, an honor that enables her to advocate on behalf of the profession she is so passionate about: optometry.

    “It was a privilege being the MCPHS AOSA trustee, and I am so excited to transition into my new role as the treasurer of the AOSA Executive Council,” said Ko. “I have this amazing opportunity to represent optometry students across the nation and at all the schools and colleges of optometry.”

    AOSA represents more than 7,000 students across 25 schools of optometry in the United States and Canada and is committed to promoting the optometry profession and enhancing the vision and ocular health of the public.

    Ko, who earned her bachelor of science in biomedical science with a minor in psychology from the University of Waterloo, is originally from Richmond Hill, Ontario, and is a third-year student in the Doctor of Optometry/Master of Public Health program at MCPHS. We sat down with Ko to learn more about her new role and to hear about her inspiration for entering the optometry profession.

    Congratulations on your recent election as treasurer of the AOSA executive council! What does it mean to you to have been elected to such a prestigious council?

    Thank you! For me, being an AOSA member is essential in supporting the future of our profession and our patients. I am honored to be supporting what I love and working with such a dedicated and hardworking AOSA board.

    What is the mission of AOSA?

    AOSA is guided by four pillars: advocacy, tools for success, education, and student experience. Advocating on behalf of our membership as well as for the safety of our patients, providing tools for their success as they transition from student to doctor, enhancing their education, and promoting a positive student experience will be the guiding pillars for the future of the association. The ultimate goal of AOSA is to serve optometry students in becoming successful optometrists.

    As treasurer, what will your responsibilities include?

    As treasurer, I am the money lady! I oversee the budget, expenditures, and investments of AOSA funds while working very closely with the rest of the executive council and the executive director to ensure our plans are financially viable. Together, the executive council will organize events, programs, and resources to best serve AOSA.

    As a future member of the executive council, what are you most excited about taking on?

    I am really excited for Optometry’s Meeting 2018 in Denver, CO, where AOSA will be celebrating its 50th anniversary! The executive council is working hard to plan for exciting student-oriented events including an AOSA exclusive cake cutting, education courses, and interactive AOA+ pop-up sessions about topics of advocacy, leadership, business, and so much more. And of course, I will be attending the annual Optometry Student Bowl, cheering on MCPHS!

    What inspired you to pursue a future as an optometrist?

    The first time I shadowed an optometrist, I saw what could be accomplished with a simple eye exam. I pursued a future in optometry because optometrists have the power to serve patients as primary care doctors. The health of someone’s eyes can impact their vision, be an indicator of their overall health, and improve or hinder their quality of life. I wanted to be in a profession that focused on patient interaction and integrated my background in science, my diverse experience in healthcare settings, and my passion to help others.

    What is your favorite part of your program?

    My favorite part of the program has been the people I have met and the relationships I have made. We are a smaller and newer program, but I have been lucky to be a part of a close-knit group. Seeing my peers step up to different leadership positions and supporting each other’s accomplishments is the kind of environment you want to be in. Here, we are working together to build up our program, peers, and profession.

    What is your biggest piece of advice for someone who is thinking of pursuing a doctor of optometry degree?

    Make the journey your own. Even in my class of 60 people, we all come from different parts of the country (or out of it, in my case), experiences, and backgrounds. It is okay to try new things and decide for yourself what is and is not for you. Optometry is a great profession because there is so much more you can do as an OD than you have probably ever even imaged.

    The School of Optometry at MCPHS–Worcester is a four-year, full-time program designed to prepare students with the requisite skills, experience, and confidence to practice and advance as professional optometrists in a wide variety of clinical settings.