OAA 2020 State Leadership: More than a Conference
More than twenty Opticianry students and apprentices from all over the country, including myself, received travel grants to attend the OAA State Leadership Conference in Destin, Florida. Leaders from the industry asked us to describe the conference in one word. My peers and I described it as “inspirational, life-changing, motivating, magical”. The OAA State Leadership Conference was more than a conference; it was a transformative opportunity to connect with leaders from different backgrounds who share the passion of helping people see.
Many of us students were nervous in anticipation of the conference. I don’t know about you, but flying to another state to meet with hundreds of new people is out of my comfort zone! Many students had to say goodbye to their children, and some flew on a plane for the first time. Upon arrival, everyone was so warm and welcoming. When I told someone that I was overwhelmed, she reassured me that everyone here was in our position at one time. A true leader possesses humility like this. I am thankful for the leaders who shared wisdom and advice with us as we become opticians. We saw leadership in action with these examples of kindness. We entered the conference with open minds and a passion for opticianry. We left with new friendships, knowledge, and an enhanced passion for this wonderful field of work.
Simon Sinek, the British-American motivational author, once wrote, “Great leaders must have two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate that vision clearly.” The OAA State Leadership Conference is a platform for students, apprentices, and professionals to communicate their vision. As new opticians, it is important to surround ourselves with like-minded, ambitious people. Our profession will thrive if we collaborate to educate the public on the importance of our field. Opticians not only help America see, but we help you feel your best, we listen, and we care. The leadership in which we engaged at this conference is what allows us to provide the best quality care to our patients. Though our backgrounds and experiences are unique, our vision for preserving the field of opticianry unites us.