Name: Jennifer Liu 2022 Student Visionary Spotlight

Class Year: 2022

List the award(s) / scholarship(s) you have received
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award

What does receiving this award or scholarship mean to you?
I am honored to receive this award, because over the course of optometry school I have become very passionate about applying social change to optometry, specifically regarding issues of disability, mental health, and systemic racism.

What drew you to the field of optometry?
I first became interested in optometry in 4th grade upon receiving my first pair of eyeglasses. At the time, my family and I faced multiple barriers to eye care that helped me better understand the importance of accessible eye care, health insurance, and the eye's role in education and development. This led me to be passionate about applying social change to optometry.

What are your plans following graduation?
I will be completing my residency training in Primary Care with an emphasis on Ocular Disease and Low Vision rehabilitation at Veterans Affairs New Jersey Health System

What was your most transformative experience during optometry school?
My first year, I faced initial academic difficulties that led to an immense personal growth journey learning about myself, my own access needs, and resiliency. Following my own experiences with mental health and neurodivergence, I began to create spaces for peer support and advocacy alongside my peers to prioritize disability access in academic and clinical settings. My most transformative experience culminated from this advocacy when I got to work with the Office of DEIB by delivering two COPE approved CE lectures on "Disability Justice Frameworks for Optometry" within the "Building an Inclusive Practice" series during my fourth year. I will never forget speaking to so many optometrists across the country so early on in my career about topics I am most passionate about.

What advice would you give incoming or prospective optometry students?
Build community around you wherever you go. Work alongside others towards common goals and create co-supportive relationships, even with students across different schools.