President: Walter Jackson
Hometown: Columbus, Georgia
Optometry School: The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (UABSO)
Why I chose Optometry: I worked with an optometrist while in college and realized that there is so much to eye care and wanted to provide those services to my patients. I plan on staying in Birmingham and opening a private practice so I can help out my community.
Passions outside of Optometry: Gym, hanging out with friends, playing intramural sports like softball, basketball, football, kickball, or anything that has a ball.
Why NOSA: NOSA was the first organization to show me why I was going through all the stress and headache that is associated with being in optometry school. My first screening was with NOSA and I immediately fell in love with the profession all over again. NOSA pushes me to be a leader at my school and in my community.
Any Advice for First year Optometry Students: If you’re moving to a new city enjoy the city. Get your work done but make sure you also enjoy yourself.
Vice President: Dana Shannon
Hometown: Hazel Crest, Illinois
Optometry School: UABSO
Interesting Facts: I played Division 1 tennis in undergrad and I speak Spanish fluently.
Passion outside of Optometry: Fitness! I love going to the gym, working out, and healthy eating.
Why I chose NOSA: When I got to UAB, I immediately identified with NOSA and its mission: advancing the health of minority populations. I loved the giving back aspect and all the perks that came with membership. At my school, we had things like mock practicals, mentorship from older members, and other fun events. NOSA felt like a family and close knit group. Even when I attended the NOA conference, it felt like a family reunion!
Treasurer: Rhea Magee
Hometown: Hazel Crest, Illinois (suburb right outside of Chicago)
Optometry School: University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry
Why I choose optometry: I was inspired by her optometrist growing up. She loved the idea of having personal patient relationship, as well as the immediate reward of improving her patients sight by providing glasses and contact lenses. I choose to be apart of NOSA based on its mission. I love to give back to minorities and under-served communities
Interesting fact: Dana studied abroad in Vigo, Spain for a semester during undergrad. She is also fluent in Spanish.
Passion outside of optometry: Playing tennis whenever she gets a chance. Dana is a former Division 1 tennis player. She began playing tennis at 11 years old and is currently a private tennis coach.
Recording Secretary: Alethia I. Love
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Optometry School: Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University
Why optometry: The reason you join and stay in Optometry aren’t the same. I always wanted to be in the healthcare field, but out of all of them, I related to Optometry the most since it had a daily impact in my life. Optometry is a very under-appreciated but necessary field. Once shadowing eye doctors, I was amazed by the ability to get an overall view of the health of a patient just from looking at their eyes.
Interesting fact: I am a big time anime fan!
Passions outside optometry: I am an avid reader and I love to dance.
Why I chose NOSA: Within the field, especially as a student, it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day at your respective campus and feel isolated as one or few of the minorities in your class. NOSA gives you the family feeling knowing that you’re not alone in your journey of being a person of color in Optometry.
Corresponding Secretary: Eryn Gronewoller
Hometown: Onaga, Kansas
School: Illinois College of Optometry (ICO)
Why I chose optometry: I previously worked with the elderly, and while they had many health ailments, vision loss seemed to be the most debilitating and heartbreaking. I had always had a passion for the medical field and felt a calling to help preserve the sight of people young and old.
Passions outside of optometry: Photography and writing poetry
Why I joined NOSA: I was so happy to find a group of like-minded individuals who shared my values and passions. It provided me friendship, guidance, and a sense of belonging.
Parliamentarian: Lauren Watson
Hometown: Owings Mills, Maryland
School: Southern College of Optometry (SCO)
Why I chose optometry: I wanted to work in healthcare but I didn’t feel called to go to medical school. After shadowing other professions I found optometry to be the most rewarding. I loved that I could build a rapport with patients and make a huge impact on their lives without a whole lot of day-to-day stress.
Interesting fact: I really love watching nature documentaries! An ideal evening for me includes scented candles, a glass of wine, and cuddling up with my cat to watch a documentary about whales.
Passion outside Optometry: Public health. I’m getting my MPH right now. Through optometry I’m realizing the importance of health literacy and how that can tremendously improve in the United States if we focused more on preventive health versus reactionary treatment.
Why I chose NOSA: I chose NOSA because it is a continuation of everything I like to do. It just made sense for me to join a group that shares the same values in diversity and giving back that I do. I identify with NOSA’s mission and I enjoy the events we hold to serve our community.
NOA/NOSA Liaison: Chinelo Onyeador
Hometown: Arlington, Texas
Optometry School: Kentucky College of Optometry (KYCO)
Why I choose Optometry: The aspiration to become an optometrist has been lifelong. When I first found out that I needed glasses I was in second grade. The experience was so gratifying that after receiving my first pair, I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life. Now, after years of gaining insight on the profession, I have only added to the things I love about it. I love the versatility of optometry and its ability to allow for a work-life balance. Also, the satisfaction that comes from the ability to make an immediate positive impact on patients’ lives every day.
Interesting fact: I am a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma a month and a half after my graduation from the University of Notre Dame in 2014. I have been in remission since August of 2016.
Passions outside of Optometry: FOOD! I love to cook and try new restaurants. And I write Yelp reviews on different restaurants I visit. Prior to optometry school I was a Yelp elite member.
Why I chose NOSA: Prior to optometry school I did not know any black optometrists. I was the only black student in my class for my first two years. NOSA was the only place on campus where I felt welcomed. It was through NOSA that I was able to connect with other black students on campus. Attending the NOA convention allowed me a unique opportunity to connect with, network, and gain mentorship by doctors that looked like me and were doing what I aspire to do. The NOA conference also allowed me to meet other minority students at various optometry colleges and form connections with them.
Historian 1: Kierra Washington
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Optometry School: Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University
Why I chose Optometry: I selected optometry school because I have always been interested in the eyes. I had my fist eye exam in third grade and have had one every year since then. I also have a wonder optometrist who I still see today. The relationship built with my optometrist and the care provided is another reason why I selected optometry. I would like to be able to replicate the care that I received throughout my life and provide my patients with the gift of sight.
Interesting fact: I come from a really large family. I have 9 siblings and I am the second oldest .
Passion outside of optometry: My passion outside of optometry is traveling. I absolutely love traveling to new places and learning about different cultures. I have visited over 15 countries and plan on exploring many others after optometry school.
Why I chose NOSA: I selected NOSA because of of its mission to advance the visual health of minority and under-served communities by investing in the success of compassionate students who are eager to serve these communities.
Historian 2: Mayadah Yahya
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Optometry School: ICO
Why I choose optometry? I choose optometry because our eyes provide us with the ability to see, experience, and partake in the world, and I wanted to be a source of hope for people. I want to provide others with every opportunity to reach their full potential.
Interesting fact about you? I learned how to create blueprints in elementary school.
Passion outside of Optometry School: Painting
Why did you join NOSA? I chose NOSA because it provides members with the opportunity to engage with people that share the goal of advancing the learning opportunities and experiences provided to minority students, and for the sense of family that I find here.
NOA Liason to the Board: Courtney Goode, OD
Hometown: Fort Washington, MD
Optometry School: Salus University – PCO
Residency: Fresno VA Medical Center
Why I chose optometry: I developed a passion for helping those who struggle with blindness and low vision at a young age by assisting family and friends. This has translated into my career. I now work at a private practice in Maryland. I particularly enjoy helping Low Vision, Specialty Contact Lens, Pediatric, and Geriatric patients.
Interesting fact: I recently started boxing, and I’m really enjoying it! I’d better protect my eyes!