UH Optometry Student Lands Prestigious Essilor Internship
Easy Anyama Swaps NFL Dreams for A Better Future Through Optometry
Easy Anyama, 25, has proven he can excel in any arena – whether it be a football field, optometry school or a highly competitive application process.
Anyama, a first-year student at the University of Houston, College of Optometry, is one of only three students nationally to be selected for a prestigious summer internship with Essilor of America Inc., the leading manufacturer of optical lenses in the U.S. and a subsidiary of Paris-based Essilor International.
He will spend 10 weeks at Essilor’s U.S. headquarters, which is in Dallas.
Since 2006, Essilor has offered paid summer internships to three optometry students – two first-years and one fourth-year. These students are placed in different areas of the company, including marketing, the Essilor Vision Foundation, Eyecare Professional University, supply chain, human resources and others. Each student is assigned a project and, at the end of the internship, presents it to company representatives.
“This internship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Anyama said. “I’m excited for the chance to work on a team within Essilor and achieve a goal that could one day change people’s lives.”
It’s not surprising Anyama was selected for the internship. After all, he has a history of success.
From NFL Dreams To Optometric Passion
A football and track star at Stafford High School in Texas, Anyama won the University Interscholastic League state track and field championship in two events and went on to attend the University of Texas at Austin as an NCAA track and field student athlete with a scholarship. He won another athletic scholarship when he transferred to Texas State University to play football for the Texas State Bobcats. He ended up as team captain, an honor bestowed on players who inspire excellence both on and off the field.
While at Texas State, Anyama also made time to pursue his other interest – science. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology.
In spring 2018, he was focused on training for the NFL and looking for work during his senior year. He landed a job as an optometric assistant at Texas State Optical in San Marcos.
“When I ended up working there, it completely blew my mind at how fun and interesting the profession was,” Anyama said. “The doctor there just enjoyed bringing his personality to every room and getting to know his patients.”
After about five months on the job, Anyama was invited to the Seattle Seahawks rookie training camp. Following that, he got the opportunity to try out for the Los Angeles Rams. Both teams ended up letting him go.
“At that point, I realized making it in the NFL is not that easy,” he said. “If you’re a definite draft pick, then you’re in for the long haul, but if you’re a fringe guy, someone at the edge, then you’re going on and off.”
So he turned back to optometry, learning everything he could about the profession and studying for the Optometry Admissions Test. He started working at Visionworks of America as an eyewear specialist/laboratory technician.
Anyama brought the same drive he displayed on the football field to optometry. “I was constantly reading, asking questions and researching,” Anyama said. “It turned out optometry was much cooler than I had originally thought. It was then I developed my passion for eye health and the eye care industry.”
He credits the three Doctors of Optometry he worked with, Drs. Stephen Stanfield, OD ’83; Jeslyn Sabol, OD ’13; and Suzanne Turner, OD ’12 – all of whom are UHCO graduates – for showing him how optometry can make a difference in patients’ lives and in their communities.
“Even if I end up helping one patient, that’s something,” he said. “I remember this mother came into one of the practices where I worked.” The lady was upset because she wasn’t able to help her child with homework. Her blurry vision made it hard to read.
“In the end, my doctor was able to help her,” he said. Her grief followed by her joy made a lasting impression on him.
Believing in a Larger Vision
However, Anyama hopes to not only help individual patients but be a part of something larger. Think: A global effort for the greater good.
Uncorrected poor vision is the world’s most widespread disability, affecting one in three people in the world. Essilor is on a mission to eliminate correctable poor vision by 2050. To that end, the company invested in a report that compiled evidence-based insights into the needs and challenges of the vision health crisis, identified possible solutions and provided guidance.
The report, released in fall 2019, estimated it would cost $14 billion and commitment from multiple stakeholders to wipe out uncorrected poor vision from the world.
“It’s an achievable goal and I want to be part of the people who help achieve it,” Anyama said. “I really like Essilor as a company, and I’m hoping that working with them will help me impact the world and vision health on a macro-level. As a young aspiring optometrist, I feel being part of the solution is our responsibility. The future is in our hands.”