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AAOF Announces 2019 VSP Global Scholarship Recipients

Nearly $200,000 was awarded to several top performing fourth-year optometry students.




(PRESS RELEASE) ORLANDO, FL – 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 United States, 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.

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“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 on October 23-27 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. 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 Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry
    Kristen Lantz, Jacob Webster
  • 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

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