AAOF Announces 2019 VSP Global Scholarship Recipients


ORLANDO, Fla.—The American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF), the philanthropic arm of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), and VSP Global announced the recipients of this year’s Practice Excellence Scholarships. Nearly $200,000 was awarded to several top-performing fourth-year optometry students in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, as well as four additional international students from Australia. This year, in honor of the 3rd World Congress of Optometry held in conjunction with the Academy meeting in Orlando, Florida, VSP Global added an Australian Practice Excellence Scholarship, open to students from four institutions: Deakin University, Flinders University, Queensland University of Technology School of Vision Science and the University of New South Wales.

“The Practice Excellence Scholarship is another example of our commitment to optometry’s next generation, and we are honored to extend this recognition to optometry students in Australia, a country in which we have a strong optometrist network,” said Gordon Jennings, OD and VSP Global Board chairman.

Two students from each school or college of optometry as well as one student from each Australian institution were selected by nomination from their individual institutions to receive the scholarship. Since 2010, VSP Global has provided more than $2.4 million in scholarship support to hundreds of optometry students.

The scholarships are funded through VSP’s Global Charitable Fund and are administered through the AAOF. Scholarship recipients were selected based on key criteria including the student’s commitment to enter the independent practice of optometry, and their clinical and academic performance.

“We are very grateful for the continued partnership we have with VSP,” said Pete Kollbaum, OD, PhD, FAAO, and president of the American Academy of Optometry Foundation. “Through VSP’s continued support of this partnership they are demonstrating their commitment to advance optometry, the Academy, and, most importantly, the clinical care patients are able to receive. We are very grateful for their foresight in supporting these very deserving future leaders and their dedication to support the future of optometry.”

Each scholarship included a travel grant to participate in the American Academy of Optometry's 98th annual meeting, Academy 2019 Orlando, which was held from October 23 to 27 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The recipients were recognized at a special reception sponsored by VSP Global.

The 2019 Practice Excellence Scholarship recipients are:

Illinois College of Optometry

Lauren Kunkel, Aaron Motacek

Indiana University School of Optometry

Mary Marte, Kalyn Wendholt

Inter American University of Puerto School of Optometry

Samantha Chan, Travis Lipscomb

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Taylor Hall, Danielle Zapata

Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University

Steven Gibbs, Ankur Patel

Midwestern University Arizona College of Optometry

Jennifer Dryden, Liza Stremick

New England College of Optometry

Alexa Caruso, Chelsey Kritzer

Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry

Sahab Astani, William Colton Cheek

Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry

Phoebe Pan, Kaitlin Brown

The Ohio State University College of Optometry

Alex Lamorgese, Adell Walters

Pacific University College of Optometry

Liandra Jung, Ashley Stone

Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University

Andrew Muckin, Emile Seitz

Rosenberg School of Optometry

Patrick Clark, Kelly Tran

Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University

Alyssa Pack, Emiko Vasquez

Southern College of Optometry

Katelyn McGee, Trevor Shealy

State University of New York College of Optometry

Abigail Cash, Alicia Jones

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry

Mason Childers, Mohammed Haque

University of California Berkeley School of Optometry

Stephanie Tran, Rebecca Stapornkul

University of Houston College of Optometry

Ashley Nguyen, Megan Wagner

University of Missouri -St. Louis College of Optometry

Kelly Deering, Abigail Smith

University of Montreal School of Optometry

Antoine Aidans van der Poel, Lara Tchakmakian

University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science

Komal Patel, Angela Zhang

Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry

Kenny Huynh, Aiko Seffinger

Australian Practice Excellence Scholarships

Deakin University

Emily Banks

Flinders University

Dylan Bentley

Queensland University of Technology School of Optometry and Vision Science

Derek Shiu Him Lay

University of New South Wales

Ivy Kol