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Better Together: ICO and the OD/MD Alliance
Why do you think it’s important to be an ICO alumni ambassador?
I am an alumni ambassador because I want to give back. Most ambassadors loved their time at ICO, and we want to connect with current students. We’re a gentle reminder of the good things that lie at the end of all that hard work.
Whatever mode of practice we are in, we can provide our insights. When we have the chance to guide and formally mentor, it makes the students’ experience richer, and it makes our profession stronger.
What’s one thing you’d want people to know about being an ICO alumni ambassador?
We have the largest alumni base of any optometry school in the nation. Every year, we graduate more graduates than pretty much any other optometry school. That means not only do we have more people leading a variety of practices – whether that be private practice, working in a corporate setting or an educational setting – but we also have students interested in many different specializations. We need all kinds of ambassadors. We need to make ourselves as accessible as possible. We serve as guideposts when students feel like they’re forging their path alone. When we support future optometrists, we’re supporting the future of our profession.
What knowledge do you hope to impart to those you mentor?
Dr. Owusu addresses 50-yr club members at ICO's Homecoming.
One thing I always emphasize is the excellence of their ICO optometric education. I remember how stressful optometry school could be. The curriculum is so jam-packed, sometimes you wonder if it’s all worth it.
The College prepared me to run the practice I run today. It’s nice to be on the other side, reminding current students that it’s all worth the hard work.
Speaking as a Canadian, I’m also there as a “local guide.” Optometry’s scope of practice changes from state to state and region to region. There are resources to find the information yourself, but it helps to have someone guide you through the thorny details.
Why is it important for you to continue your connection with ICO?
The reason I do all of this is because my experience at ICO was so impactful. There are so many people who were my mentors, including ICO’s current president, Mark K. Colip, OD '92. They guided me towards what I wanted to accomplish. This program is not an easy program, and there were times when I also struggled. The type of community that we build, the support systems ICO has, whether that be tutoring or a one-on-one with Beth, we get through this program as a team. When I graduated, I knew that my mentors had a large part to play in my ultimate success.
Those people were great to me, and while it was a fantastic experience, I also believe it can always be better. If there are ways I can improve on this formative experience, I’m ready for that challenge. I’m involved in so many things because I want to make sure that current ICO students have the best possible experience. It’s a rewarding part of my career, and I’m proud to be part of the ICO community.