Though this year has taken a very unexpected turn and impacted greatly on UMOSS’s planned events, it has provided us with an opportunity to flex our creative muscles and shift focus on to new projects and prospects.
UMOSS is still striving to focus on student engagement and building camaraderie amongst the Optometry student cohort, which has proven to be a challenge in a socially distanced world. We are happy to report that both UMOSS and all the student representatives of the different year levels have successfully hosted multiple online events to help keep the students together during these difficult times. These events are particularly important for our new OD1s, who have had limited opportunity to get to know one another and their colleagues in the year levels above them. The OD1 representatives, Arshdeep Gill and Lucy Wang, have worked tirelessly to keep their year level connected by organizing online catch ups and weekly study sessions. Similarly, the OD2 representatives, Ishan Vakil and Kim Nguyen have been encouraging classmates to share childhood and pet photos on their Facebook page, as well as hosting online game nights. Sushweta Pal and Adam Barresi, the OD3 representatives, have also adapted well to a semester in lockdown and have managed to bring their year level themed dress up Thursdays to the virtual classroom, as well as holding many online movie nights. UMOSS, along with the hard work of Jenkin Yau (BBBS Co-ordinator, OD2), have also created a virtual common room on Discord. This common room acts as an online space for all optometry students, both past and present, to gather for discussions, support, and fun.
To further facilitate inter-year level bonds and peer learning, UMOSS began our Eye-so Study Sessions in semester 1. The Eye-so study sessions are a mentoring program where students from older year levels host Zoom sessions for younger year levels to attend and ask questions or seek advice about varying topics. It has provided a unique opportunity for different students to interact and support each other throughout the semester either as mentors or mentees. After much success and very positive feedback, these peer mentoring sessions will be continuing into the second semester. We hope it continues to grow and help more students in the years to come.
The Big Brother Sister Program (BBBS) has also been working hard to establish a foundation of mentorship for the OD1s. In Semester 1, they hosted a very entertaining online escape room involving various puzzles that the OD1s and their OD2 ‘siblings’ had to solve together. This semester BBBS will be hosting their annual student equipment session on Zoom, providing the OD1s with a chance to ask their peers any questions they may have about the different equipment options available to them.
UMOSS has been thrilled to see the engagement of all students, across the various events and opportunities that have been presented to them. They participated wholeheartedly in the Hoodie Design Competition which resulted in a recording breaking number of sales this year. We are very excited about this engagement to continue as there are many more events to look forward to. Our annual Eyemazing race has evolved into the Zoomazing race which will consist of teams of students working through puzzles and challenges in a race across the internet. We are also hosting a charity raffle for World Sight Day instead of our annual bake sale. UMOSS is also involved in the first ever National Optometry Student Conference, hosted by the Optometry Student Society Australia in conjunction with Optometry Australia. We are looking forward to providing an opportunity to build a network amongst the penultimate and final year Optometry students across Australia.
2020 has been a year of many challenges, but we are proud of the work and resilience of every one of the students in our cohort. As things slowly shift back to normalcy, we wanted to take this opportunity to thank all the staff members who have worked tirelessly to adapt to the everchanging environment of the pandemic in order to provide us with every learning opportunity possible.
Chamasha Dissanayake and Ashviney Vigneswaran
UMOSS President and Vice-President 2020