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VSP Global and AAOF Announce 2020 Practice Excellence Scholarship Recipients

Nearly $164,000 was awarded to 50 top-performing 4th-year optometry students.




(PRESS RELEASE) RANCHO CORDOVA, CA – VSP Global and American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF), the philanthropic arm of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), announced the recipients of this year’s Practice Excellence Scholarship. Nearly $164,000 was awarded to 50 top-performing fourth-year optometry students in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.

“We are honored to celebrate these incredible students as they move closer to starting their careers in eye care,” said VSP Global Board Chairman Gordon W. Jennings, OD. “The Practice Excellence Scholarship is another demonstration of our 65-year commitment to deliver support and opportunities for optometry’s next generation.”

The Practice Excellence Scholarship is a long-standing and prestigious scholarship that represents the very best in what optometry has to offer in patient care and practice management. Only two recipients from each of the 25 schools and colleges of optometry were selected from nominations submitted by their individual institutions. Scholarship recipients were selected based on the student’s commitment to enter the independent practice of optometry, and their clinical and academic performance.

The scholarships are funded by VSP Global and administered through the AAOF. In total, VSP has awarded more than $2.5 million in scholarships to optometry students.

“We are very grateful for VSP’s foresight in establishing these awards and their dedicated commitment to support the future of optometry,” said Pete Kollbaum, OD, PhD, FAAO, and president of the American Academy of Optometry Foundation. “Through VSP’s support of these future leaders, and their continued partnership with the Foundation, they demonstrate an unwavering commitment to not only advance optometry but more importantly advance the clinical care patients receive for generations to come.”

The recipients were recognized at a special virtual reception hosted by VSP.


This year’s Practice Excellence Scholarship recipients are:

  • Chicago College of Optometry at Midwestern University — Michael DeStefano & Rema Idriss
  • Illinois College of Optometry — Phoebe Chow & Randi-Jo Francis
  • Indiana University School of Optometry — Sydney Lehman & Nina Rettig
  • Inter American University of Puerto Rico, School of Optometry — Safinaz Gamini & Jessica Bertemati
  • Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences — Carolyn Te & Cynthia Noorani
  • Michigan College of Optometry — Azra Fazil-Jamal & Amanda Kruse
  • Midwestern University Arizona College of Optometry — Bryan Grossman & Tyler Boyack
  • New England College of Optometry — Jonathan Elin-Calcador & Nathan Bates
  • Northeastern State University Oklahoma, College of Optometry — Kayla Cook & Kristina Flaig
  • NOVA Southeastern University College of Optometry — Erik Kelly & Austin Mason
  • Ohio State University College of Optometry — Kirsten Sullivan & Veronica Schuver
  • Pacific University College of Optometry — Christina Goodrich & Megan Schmauder
  • Pennsylvania College of Optometry — Gina Piorkowski & Tanya Vigdal
  • Rosenberg School of Optometry — Bilal Ismail & Michelle Nguyen
  • Southern California College of Optometry — Bradley Kovach & Lauren Zabaleta
  • Southern College of Optometry — Jonathan Eide & Alec Waters
  • State University of New York College of Optometry — Anthony Boyd & Emily Shtull
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham — Sarah Kate Day & Whitney Powell
  • University of California-Berkeley, School of Optometry — Joanna Toner & Jeffrey Kong
  • University of Houston, College of Optometry — Linus Klingler & Sarah Wilting
  • University of Missouri–St. Louis, College of Optometry — Katelyn Flood & Kyle Carnahan
  • University of Montreal, School of Optometry — Anabel Cormier & Ariane Dupont
  • University of Pikeville, Kentucky College of Optometry — Hannah Sigmon & Ambrosia Makini
  • University of Waterloo, School of Optometry and Vision Science — Joanne Han Qiao & Christina Chen
  • Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry — Suparna Bajaj & Alexander Bennett



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