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Poston Leadership Award Recipients Announced

They were recognized during the NOA Convention and each received a $4,000 scholarship.




Poston Leadership Award Recipients Announced
Claudia Amaniampong, Raymond Farmer, OD, Melisa Philogene, Walter Jackson, OD, and Sophia Johnson.

(PRESS RELEASE) RANCHO CORDOVA, CA — VSP Global and the National Optometric Association (NOA) honor five students with the 2021 Dr. Marvin R. Poston Leadership Award. Named after the late, trailblazing optometrist and only Black American, co-founding member of VSP, the award is presented annually to current National Optometric Student Association (NOSA) optometry students who uphold Dr. Poston’s commitment to leadership, service and diversity. Award recipients were recently recognized during the NOA Convention and each received a $4,000 scholarship toward their education.

The 2021 recipients are:

  • Melisa Philogene, 1st year at Illinois College of Optometry
  • Sophia Johnson, 2nd year at State University of New York College of Optometry
  • Claudia Amaniampong, 3rd year at University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science
  • Raymond Farmer, OD, 4th year at State University of New York College of Optometry
  • Walter Jackson, OD, 4th year and NOSA Executive Board President at University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry

Recipient Claudia Amaniampong said, “It’s a tremendous honor to receive the Dr. Marvin R. Poston Leadership Award as I am so inspired by Dr. Poston’s legacy. I would like to thank VSP, NOA and the Poston family for their continued support of students.”

In addition to inspiring an award, Dr. Poston’s lifetime achievements include being the first Black American admitted to the University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry, and becoming the first Black American licensed to practice on the entire West Coast. He was also the first Black American to be honored as Optometrist of the Year by the American Optometric Association and the California Optometric Association. He would also go on to help co-found VSP, California Vision Services at the time, and serve as the president. In 2019, the Dr. Poston Foundation, NOA and VSP established the Visioning the Future mentorship program, and this year, Dr. Poston was posthumously inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame.

Certainly, his memory’s most enduring quality was his passion to give back through counseling young optometrists and establishing multiple, free, eye care programs in his community.

“Dr. Poston’s legacy is synonymous with service to the profession of optometry and a commitment to patient care,” said Jarrett Johnson, OD, MPH, VSP Global board member and long-time NOA member. “We’re proud to honor these five exceptional optometry students who will help carry forward the example set by Dr. Poston.”


Learn more about VSP’s ongoing commitment to diversity here.



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