Rashida Makda: My experience on the College Council

Rashida discusses her first year as the College's Early Career Council Rep

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Applications for the next Early Career Council Rep are now open for students across the UK going into their final year this September. Applications close 30 August 2020. 

“I started my role as the College’s Early Career Council Rep last summer. Before this, I was also a student representative for the College and BCLA at Aston University. I was both excited and nervous as I’m the only student on the Council, but I was welcomed in such a warm manner, and everyone was so approachable. It was fantastic to meet everyone, and I felt much more relaxed at my second meeting.

“The College Council is made up of representatives from all parts of the UK, and Council members help set the strategic and professional direction for the College. Individual members are also responsible for representing the views of members in their region. In my case, I am responsible for representing the views of UK optometry students. We meet three times a year to discuss important issues and it is fantastic to be part of these discussions. The Early Career Rep is there to provide the student viewpoint in any discussions taking place. 

“This role is a rare opportunity to meet practitioners from all aspects of optometry. Some representatives work in high street practices, some are hospital optometrists, and others work in the world of academia. It’s great to be able to speak with such a varied group. You get to hear concerns from areas in optometry that you may not have necessarily thought about. The range of different views expressed can be a little daunting at first, but it is invaluable insight for someone like me to pick up on from other optometry professionals.

“Sometimes students are not always able to voice their concerns, so this role is an opportunity to listen to your fellow students’ views in a more informal setting (e.g. in a conversation before a lecture) and take these ideas back to the Council. Most students prefer to share their opinions in a more relaxed setting, so I am always listening to other student’s viewpoints whether it is where I work, or at University. I remember during one of my dispensing clinics, some of my fellow students mentioned that they really enjoyed how the College was using social media to relay the latest information and resources. I fed this information back and have enjoyed being kept up-to-date via the College’s Instagram.

“If you are passionate about optometry and would like to help shape the future of our profession, this role could be perfect for you. In the next few months, I will be starting my pre-registration role with Boots Opticians. I will continue in my role and will speak for pre-registration trainees, from across the UK alongside the new student member. 

“From March onwards, my final year at Aston consisted of Zoom assessments and online exams – an experience that I could never have imagined this time last year! This academic year has truly gone down as a strange and unforgettable one – the unique class of 2020. We are clearly living through tumultuous times. I think students will be affected for a generation by the decisions being taken right now, so this is a fantastic time to get involved. I look forward to meeting the next Early Career Rep and working alongside them!”