Involvement in organized optometry outside of the classroom is crucial.
It gives you a sense of community through networking; it gives you roots in the profession, and it helps you stay in the know with the profession. I always tell people find your niche in the profession whether it be sports vision, vision therapy, ocular disease, or advocacy, etc. and reach out to practicing docs in that field.
You can even join committees and special interest groups. Go to as many national meetings as you can. Meet as many people as you can and establish a connection with them.
Most practicing doctors would love to mentor a motivated student.
Networking is an imperative part of professional development; you never know when you may need to reach out to someone for advice on a complicated case or need referring doc in a particular town or even get leads for a job.
Be involved in different organizations at your school like AOSA, VOSH, NOSA, and Private Practice clubs.
There are so many opportunities that will arise from being an active member of these groups that are available only to students and you will gain very valuable experiences during your student years.