Kate Hamm (’19) had nothing short of a remarkable week at Optometry’s Meeting.  Being asked to sing the National Anthem at the Opening Ceremony, helping UMSL win the coveted Spirit Award, co-winner of the $15,000 Foresight, and being named as a finalist for national President of the American Optometric Student Association speaks volumes about her leadership as well as her commitment to the profession.  This is not surprising.  She has been a very strong advocate of the profession from the day she arrived in St. Louis from her native Kansas.  And she has been a very dedicated and conscientious Class Representative dating back to her first week at UMSL in August 2015.

Kate showed her leadership skills during the Essilor Student Bowl which, according to Jessie Crabtree (’18), was instrumental in UMSL winning the Spirit award: “Every one of my peers was up out of their chairs cheering every contestant on, which was driven in the background by none other than Kate Hamm!  Kate was full of energy and it caused a ripple effect throughout the UMSL students.”  But Kate was insistent it was a total team effort: “It was honestly each person taking it upon themselves to cheer on so many people and be respectful to all students present! I told so many people this was my goal before we entered this week, so I am excited that we were able to show over 2,000 students that we are such a big family here at UMSL!”  Kate was also very appreciative of the support provided by her UMSL family during the Project Foresight ceremony as she relates: “The support of our friends and faculty was second to none. We had such a large cheering section and felt supported since day one! This win was not just a win for Rachel and me but for UMSL!”

And Kate has an excellent opportunity to be awarded the highest student leadership position in the country, President of the American Optometric Student Association, as she was named one of two finalists at OM.  If so, she would join Jennifer Sidun (’13) and Devin Sasser (’15) as the third UMSL AOSA President in the last seven years. And she is excited about serving her fellow students if elected: “I feel so honored to be nominated by my peers for such a prestigious position within optometry. I want to make optometry the best profession for anyone looking to go into the medical field so, I would be honored to wear the yoke of this position. The next few months include letters of intent, and questioning by students with voting occurring in January by the board of trustees. I am excited for this process, and honored to be thought so highly by my peers for this nomination!”

Of course, being asked to sing the National Anthem had to be a wonderful thrill, although anyone who has seen her perform in the past knows that she would not disappoint . . .  and they were correct.  And Kate was excited to perform in Washington, D.C. “When I was asked to sing the national anthem at the opening session of Optometry’s Meeting, I was so excited to honor our nation in our nation’s capital. I was asked on Friday before the session on Wednesday, so I had a quick turnaround to prepare. But from years of performing, I knew the best National Anthem was simply to sing from the heart and keep the tune recognizable! They told me there would be some images on the screen next to me, but I didn’t know how moving the images would be! After I was done, it was incredible to hear my friends and other supportive attendees cheering for me! You only get to sing the national anthem in the capital once in your life, so I was not going to pass up this opportunity!”

Congratulations to Kate Hamm who helped the college reach unparalleled heights with a collective pride that will positively impact our recruitment efforts while enhancing our reputation in the eyes of all other colleges of optometry.  It is safe to predict that, after graduation in May 2019, she will be a strong advocate and leader in the profession that she feels so passionate about while continuing to work with Rachel Simpson and others to lobby against the inequities that currently exist in this profession.

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