Service to the Community Helps Make Us Better Doctors

January 14, 2020

The president of the SUNY College of Optometry’s Class of 2022, Julie Song, is all about advocacy through action.


NEW YORK, N.Y. (January 14, 2020) — Julie Song takes her job as president of the SUNY College of Optometry’s Class of 2022 very seriously for two major reasons. The first has everything to do with how she feels. “I really, truly love my class; I don’t think I would be doing any of this if that weren’t true! I like having a day-to-day impact on everyone’s education,” she says.

The second is that Song draws a direct line between service at the College and improved patient care. “I try to streamline the educational process as much as possible between the professors and administration and the students in my class,” says the Tempe, Arizona-native. “I also advocate for my class if I see big picture changes coming our way. I really hope that I have made it even just a little bit easier for everyone to make it through a tough program so we can all be better doctors for our patients someday.”

While she didn’t always think she would be an optometrist, she did always have the same end goal in mind. “When I was a child, I wanted to be a lawyer. I always wanted to be able to have a voice and change the outcome of a situation in a positive way,” Song says. She’s considering a residency after graduation, but isn’t sure which specialty to pursue; Song currently likes contact lenses, pediatrics and ocular disease.

But she is clear on what she loves about optometry. “Optometry itself was the best fit for me because I really enjoy the pace and being able to make small changes to solve big problems,” she says. “And there is still so much unknown in terms of the eye, the field is constantly moving and changing, and I like that. It also offers a lot of mobility in terms of where you can practice and your specialties.”

In the meantime, she dedicates quite a bit of time to her class, including sending lots of emails and Google Forms and raising money. “It’s all about constantly triaging and managing new issues that come my way. There are always going to be problems that need to be worked on, so it comes down to figuring out the best solution for everyone and making sure that everyone can have a say in what happens,” she says. “As a Council, we also work to do fundraising events to raise money for our class graduation.”

But she’s perhaps most excited about the work the council does outside the academic realm. “We organize fun, bonding activities for our classmates. We regularly post on our class Instagram account @sunyo2022 and I truly think that all the work we put in as a council has made our class closer than most,” Song says. “I want my class to remember all the good times we had and feel comfortable keeping in touch after we all leave. I want to make things easier on my class so we can have the time to do other things outside the classroom and venture into our communities. I think there is a certain selflessness that comes with being a great leader, and I want that to show through when we finish this program.”

Song hopes that selflessness comes through in her work for her classmates, too. “The accomplishment I’m most proud of is hopefully the lasting impact I’ve had on others throughout the years in my various leadership roles,” she says. “I aim to leave things better than I found them, and I hope that the time others have spent with me is worthwhile. All the hard work I’ve put in—in class, in clinic, in my work study job, in my various leadership roles—culminate in the knowledge I’ve gained to be able to take care of someone someday.”