I was thrilled to be named 2016’s Student of the Year by contact-lens manufacturer CooperVision.
I was awarded the title at the National Student Summit at the company’s HQ after presenting my research into the effect of contact-lens material on in-vitro wettability in adverse environmental conditions, which, for example, looked at how your contact lens would perform in low-humidity during a flight.
I undertook my research over the summer break and used GCU’s environmental chamber to control the environment. No other university has such facilities and, in addition, GCU’s Vision Centre offers a range of specialist clinics to the public so it is a vital resource for the whole country.
Seven of us were selected to present our work at the summit; I was thinking everyone is so good – it was nerve wracking. You do the work and hope other people will be as enthusiastic about it so I was thrilled and surprised to win. It was an incredible experience and a great opportunity to meet other optometry students and explore a different career path within optometry. I will now go on to represent the UK at Coopervision’s European Future Ocular Research Creativity Event (FORCE) in Budapest next year.
It was a really busy summer as I also travelled to South Africa to volunteer on the Phelophepa trains of hope, taking eye care to some of the country’s most remote communities. It was an incredible experience and was wonderful to be able to help people in dire need.
My brother had studied Opthalmic Dispensing at GCU but when I arrived straight from school, I had no idea I would end up having opportunities like these. When you begin an optometry course you have a notion that after qualifying you’ll work in a 9-5 retail job, and one of the reasons I chose optometry was that I wanted to combine healthcare and business. Now, though, I am definitely considering a career in research, too. I still enjoy the practical side but these experiences have opened my eyes to other career possibilities.