As I walked into the doors of Southern College of Optometry, so many things rushed through my head. This was the moment I had been waiting for, yet it was all so overwhelming. I was moving seven hours away from all of the people who laid the foundation for who I am today. It was a large city, a large class, and so many new people. Little did I know, this is where I would find my home away from home.
In previous years, I had searched through several optometry schools. I was serving as President of the Pre-Optometry Association of Louisiana State University, which allowed me to interact with students and alumni from several optometry schools. Each year, there was something about SCO that stood out. They did not only talk about their superior academics, but they spoke about their clubs and volunteer service. You could tell that each person thoroughly enjoyed the events. This is when I knew that I wanted to be a part of this school.
When I started at SCO, I immediately knew that I wanted to get involved with the school and community. Knowing that I could not do it all, I had trouble deciding where to begin. That is when I decided to run for class Vice President for the Student Government Association (SGA). I knew this would allow me to be involved in student government meetings where I could learn more about other clubs and organizations. That is where I learned about clubs like Private Practice, SVOSH, Omega Delta, etc. As the years flew by, I became more and more involved in student government. Today, I serve as President of SGA where I am able to represent the SCO students at the board of trustee meetings, organize a fundraising event for the breast cancer foundation, partake in the white coat ceremony for the newest class of optometry students, and so many more amazing events. My decision to get involved with SCO and the community has formed my passion for creating change and making a difference within the community.
Through my leadership roles, I was able to put a smile on the face of a lonely nursing home patient, received the biggest hug from an athlete with down syndrome, convince a struggling student to never give up on their dreams, and educate a diabetes patient on the importance of eye care. These are a few of the moments that I will never forget.
Each service project made me fall more in love with the field of Optometry. It not only has increased my knowledge to better serve my patients, but it has built empathy and leadership. With these attributes, I hope to continue my goal of community service as a Doctor of Optometry.
Kailey Soileau is a third-year optometry student from Ville Platte, Louisiana. She is passionate about volunteer service, community involvement, and, of course, eyes! She is about to start her last year at Southern College of Optometry, and can’t wait to see what opportunity presents next.