Student Ambassador Blog Articles

Being a Leader Outside of Academics

A series of articles written by SCCO Student Ambassadors.

Being a Leader Outside of Academics

by SCCO Student Ambassador, Quyen Lam

IMG_8390Like many other prospective students, I was very hesitant while applying to optometry school and always fixated on areas where I could have done better. I didn’t have a perfect GPA or OAT score, nor did I have countless hours of optometric experience, so I thought to myself: What else do I have to offer that could help me stand out as an applicant?

With the insight and support from my close friends, I was able to realize that my experience with being the director of a competitive dance team in undergrad was a huge accomplishment that allowed me to develop significant skills and personal growth– both of which would be beneficial to my path in optometry.

Throughout my life, my introverted personality has always kept me from being more outspoken and expressive. It wasn’t until I took on multiple leadership roles in high school that I began to realize my enthusiasm for serving and working with others. Taking this interest into college, I became involved in the dance community and took on the role of Artistic Director for a competitive dance team. As a leader, I was able to bring together a group of hard-working, like-minded individuals whose goal was to connect through dance and create both innovative performances and humble community leaders. I not only guided the team artistically and logistically but also connected with each member on a personal level to create trustful, lasting relationships.IMG_9476

My responsibilities as a director taught me how to manage my time with school,
work under pressure, collaborate with others, and maintain a professional yet humble attitude.
Despite the many other valuable skills I’ve learned and can take on throughout my educational and professional career, one thing that I’m most content with is that I was able to just have fun with my friends doing something we were passionate about.
The meaningful skills that I’ve gained throughout my experiences are some that I would have never obtained by just focusing solely on academics. While scores are definitely important, they also must be balanced out by other factors that show who you are as a person and how you represent yourself in different situations. I believe I became better prepared for optometry as I
began to translate my passion for leading and collaborating with others toward my pursuit of healthcare.

Although extracurriculars like arts and sports may seem like completely different fields, they can actually go hand-in-hand with optometry when you discover the people skills and responsibilities that are necessary to be a successful optometrist. My desire to replicate these personal interactions with patients and provide them with life-changing care is what ultimately motivates me to pursue optometry. Therefore, I believe that having discipline in an
extracurricular areas will definitely help students gain and apply various strengths as well as stand out from others on their applications.

For students worrying about the hard numbers on their applications, just remember that there is more to an optometrist than just academics! Focus on what really makes you, you, and don’t be afraid to talk about other experiences you’ve had. If you still have time left, try to get involved in extracurriculars now in order to widen your experiences and get an extra boost.

Even if you’re in an academic-related club, try to apply for a leadership position to get a feel for working more closely with others and managing tasks, as well as improving your communication skills with a larger audience. Lastly, it’s important to still pace yourself and reserve time to have fun and do something you’re passionate about!

Click here to read Quyen’s bio and meet other Student Ambassadors at

Questions or Comments? Join in on the Discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s