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Student of the Year: demonstrating initiative in improving the knowledge and experience of fellow students.

Fares Hatoum, University of Bradford

Nominated for revolutionising the University of Bradford's optics society, BOOSA, and for his part in organising this year's Opfest, Fares Hatoum has shown a determination to increase the student experience for all.

A strong optics society is recognised as being vital in enhancing learning, making friends and helping students in their first year adapt to a new city.

"I noticed in my first year the society was failing people," Mr Hatoum told OT. "The name alone was a problem, the majority of our students are not drinkers so they were being put off, perceiving the society to be based around alcohol. When I started it was really weak to be honest.

"So we decided to arrange alcohol-free events to include everybody. I felt we needed to encourage everyone in the first year, at least, to be a part of it. It's important to be inclusive - especially in optics which I believe is a very small world and networking is very important."

As a result of his efforts the society became more and moTe popular with the general consensus being that last year was the society's finest.

Among his other achievements the third-yeaT optometry student was instrumental in the university hosting, and winning Opfest, an inter-university sports challenge against other institutions offering optical courses. Due to the impressive way he arranged this year's event, he is on the committee for next year's event hosted by Aston University.

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Mr Hatoum is also a student representative for the AOP and is currently helping to organise a cycle ride in aid of Vision Aid Overseas and Optometry Giving Sight.

The larger-than-life character will continue to be involved in optical good causes following his degree and is sure to be a well-known face in the profession for years to come.

Marcello Leucci, Aston University

There aren't many UK students who's work has gained international recognition before they even graduate, but Aston's Marcello Leucci can boast just that.

While studying, he spent the years of his degree building websites to increase the profile of optometry in the UK and provide educational resources to practitioners abroad, a project which has been commended by members of the World Council of Optometry.

"The main site caters for the CPD requirements for 25 countries and that number is growing all the time," he said. "It's very rewarding and it's helping a lot of people. I felt something needed to be done."

Prior to his involvement the website, www.toatTaining.com. was still just an idea on paper for how to provide CET foT optometrists in Tanzania, but is now up-and-mnning and used by a world-wide audience.

His calling to help fellow students and professionals isn't exclusively for overseas practitioners as another of his websites, www.opsocuk.com, is improving communication between students from universities across the UK.

The resource features networking tools, clinical articles, study tips and advice for prospective students--offering information on how to apply for courses, the type of people

who are most suited to the profession and the advantages of studying optometry.

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"It was set up because it was something that just wasn't available," he said. "It's based on the idea that you can share knowledge and look at other optical societies and find out what they do."

He is continuing to work on it post-graduation with the help of students at Aston and around the country.

Respected by lecturers, fellow students and even the WCO, his achievements during his degree have set the bar high for the students looking to follow in his footsteps.

Zain Nathu--Aston University

Popular, enthusiastic, charitable and an advocator of the complete student experience, Aston's optics society president for 2011/12, Zain Nathu has made a real difference in her first year at the university.

Shadowing the president of the optics society last year as a 'first-year president' figure, Ms Nathu made big changes which have impacted on students of all years, excellent work she can continue as president of the society this year.

"We wanted to change the way that the optics society is seen, that yes, we do the academic stuff--because we're the optics society and that's what we do--but at the same time we're a fun bunch of people," she told OT.

With her help, the society has become more inclusive and fun with pizza nights, bowling and charity cake sales. "I think it's really important to get everyone involved," she said. "When I started I thought there needed to be more contact between the three years, which is what we have tried to do and will carry on doing in the next year."

She is even cutting her summer break short so she can involve the new first year students immediately with plenty of events organised for freshers' week.

There are also big ideas afoot for the coming academic year with Aston hosting Opfest next year, an event which she is very enthusiastic about, so much so that last year she helped arrange accommodation for 20 supporters and cheerleaders to travel to Bradford to support the Aston team,

Aside from the social aspect of her work, she is considered by her peers as supportive and extremely charitable. Notably last year she raised 2,500 [pounds sterling] for Cancer Research by persuading optometry students to take part in the 24 hour relay for life and has events planned for World Sight Day next month to earn as much as possible for another cause she believes heavily in.

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Ms Nathu has done wonders to rejuvenate her optics society and increase the student experience at Aston.

All three have done an outstanding amount during their brief time in the industry and all are worthy winners. Vote for the candidate you think most deserving at www.optometry.co.uk/ awards/studet-of-the-year or send your vote to: AOP Awards, AOP, 2 Woodbridge Street, London, EC1R ODG. Results will be announced at the NOC in November and also in OT following the event.
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Title Annotation:AOP AWARDS 2011; Fares Hatoum; Marcello Leucci; Zain Nathu
Publication:Optometry Today
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 2, 2011
Words:1000
Previous Article:Ocular therapeutics & disease Part 3: Course Code: C-16775 O/AS/SP/IP.
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