November Nuances

The first November weekend in New York City is always inspirational, and energetic as we experience the sensational NYC marathon.  I am excited to work with our new Alumni Board, as your newly elected President of the Alumni Association. My vision over the next two years is to provide you with many opportunities to socialize with old friends, faculty members, students and colleagues and to bring this association to new heights. With the help of Dr. Heath, Ann Warwick, Francisco Lomparte, Nicole Totans and our  Alumni Board, we will build on the success of  our past Presidents, especially Dr. Julia Appel and Dr. Joan Portello, who have laid the foundation for our future.

Marathon runners tell us it is not about the distance, but about the journey. It’s not about how far they have run, but rather how far they have come. Most of us have become who we are today because of the challenges, professionalism and education we received here at SUNY Optometry. The foundation has been built for us, and it is up to all of us to continue to flourish and reach new heights.

In October, I had the distinct honor of presenting three diligent, personable students with our annual Alumni Scholarships at our annual luncheon. The recipients were very grateful and committed to our profession. I received hand-written thank-you notes from them on their behalf I extend a big “Thank You” to all of you who support and contribute to our association.

A few weeks later, the excitement grew, as we celebrated our Alumni Reunion Weekend at Envision New York 2013. Thanks to our Alumni Association and supporters of Envision New York, we had a fabulous opportunity to reunite once again. No matter how much time passes, we can all clearly celebrate special moments we shared together, during our days at SUNY. The weekend allowed us the opportunity to feel like we were right back in school again, and many of us even sat next to the same people we did years ago. Socializing, networking and bonding once again with our optometric family made this weekend even more fabulous.

Not only was the Continuing Education incredible (huge thanks to Dr. Rich Madonna and Betsy Torres, as well as all of the lecturers) but the presentation of the 2013 Alumna of the Year Award to Dr. Jillia Bird, Class of 89, was particularly heart-warming and emotional. When Dr. Bird graduated, a photo was taken of her with her cap and gown on, holding her newborn son, with her young daughter standing beside her. At this year’s presentation, her grown son and other family members celebrated her success as they stood beside her, honoring her for her outstanding accomplishments and leadership at the international level.                

On Envision Sunday, the celebration continued, as we gathered at the College for a wine and cheese reception, followed by a tour of the “new” College.  . Students now have the benefit of a fully-equipped gym accessible as well as beautiful views overlooking Bryant Park. The event was enjoyable and the success of the weekend reflected the devotion and hard-work of many. Once again, I thank all of you who attended and, those of you who volunteered your time to make this event successful In particular, I thank the Alumni Board and, in particular, the Alumni Reunion Class Reps who worked so hard to make this weekend so special.

Right after Envision, the Academy meeting took place in Seattle where we hosted a private alumni reception.  It is great to know many familiar faces got together during the conference. This year’s Academy was particularly busy for SUNY since our second largest concentration of alumni is in the west coast specially California.  Hope you enjoyed your time at our reception.

November begins on a high-note, and ends on a heart-warming celebration of Thanksgiving, a time to celebrate family and friends. I consider myself fortunate to be a part of this very special optometric family, and I look forward to many more celebrations, gatherings and times to share our stories of not only the past, but of the present and our futures together.

Wishing you all a blessed and wonderful holiday season, my warmest regards to all,

Dr. Denise Whittam
President of the Alumni Assocation