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Zenni Optical Announces 2023 Eye Care Access Scholarship Winners

Five first-year optometry students recognized for their commitment to providing eye care to underserved communities

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(PRESS RELEASE) NOVATO, CA — Zenni Optical, the world’s leading online eyewear retailer, has awarded five optometry students with its 2023 Eye Care Access Scholarship. The scholarship program advances Zenni’s commitment to helping the world live better and see better by supporting the growth of the optometry profession in the U.S.
“With the growing demand for eye care in the U.S., fostering the next generation of optometrists is crucial,” said Dr. Mori Goodyear, OD, ABOC, Ophthalmic/Optical Program Manager at Zenni Optical. “These scholarship recipients exemplify Zenni’s mission that everyone deserves access to eye care. We are honored to support these students on their path to becoming optometrists and providing care to the underserved in their respective communities.”
Now in its second year, the Zenni Eye Care Access Scholarship recognizes incoming students who want to provide eye care to communities in need everywhere. Vision care is often an overlooked part of healthcare, especially in underserved communities where individuals encounter barriers caused by cost and inadequate provider access. While the number of eye doctors remains relatively flat, the need continues to rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that demand for optometrists will expand 9% from 2022 to 2032.
Dr. Sophia Moh, OD, ABOC, Optical Program Manager at Zenni Optical, described her visit to the Kentucky College of Optometry as a profound experience. “A perfect blend of cutting-edge technology, innovative design, and a deep commitment to eye care. The thoughtful construction and integration of advanced teaching tools, such as the VR Lab, exemplify the college’s dedication to preparing future optometrists with the latest techniques for unparalleled clinical training,” said Dr. Sophia Moh.
Students awarded the Zenni Eye Care Access Scholarship for the academic year 2023/2024 are those currently enrolled in U.S. Optometry Schools. These individuals, with remarkable personal stories and diverse backgrounds from across the nation, are set to receive a $2,500 scholarship. Alongside the financial support, each awardee will have the opportunity to cultivate a network that plays a pivotal role in their professional development. The following are the five recipients:

Liliana Gonzalez is a student at the Indiana College of Optometry in Bloomington, Ind. She grew up in a predominantly Hispanic community that experienced barriers to health and vision care as a result of cultural and language barriers. Her childhood experiences inspired her to pursue optometry, where she will enhance diversity in the field and elevate quality of patient care for Latino patients.

Emmanuel Nwagha is a student at Western University College of Optometry in Pomona, Calif. Nwagha began his educational journey in Nigeria, where he completed his Doctor of Optometry and practiced for six years. During his time as an optometrist in Nigeria, he saw firsthand a lack of appropriate access to eye care due to the shortage of professionals and high cost of care. In response, he dedicated his efforts to serving communities in need. Now in the U.S., Nwagha is studying to acquire additional training and earn his Doctor of Optometry degree in order to practice in the U.S. and continue serving underserved and low-income patients.

Anna Reard is a student at Pacific University College of Optometry in Forest Grove, Ore. Reard grew up in a rural community in West Central Minnesota, where education about and access to optometric care were limited. As a reading tutor in her hometown, Reard noticed that a majority of the young students she worked with should have been referred for a vision therapy consult, as their learning outcomes were being negatively impacted due to vision impairments. After graduating, she plans to combine her passion for working with children and her optometric training to increase access to primary care optometry and pediatric vision therapy in her hometown.

Grace A. Skarohlid is a student at the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Optometry in Pikeville, Ky. Her passion for serving communities in need stems from her experiences with the National Optometric Student Association (NOSA) and in the communities around Pikeville, where 25% of the population are below the poverty line. Skarohlid’s goal is to provide adequate vision care to advance the visual health of minority populations in her community.

Trevor Stiede is a student at Midwestern University Arizona College of Optometry in Glendale, Ariz. His journey to becoming an optometrist began in the Andes Mountains of Peru. During his time on a humanitarian mission, he saw how the lack of access to health care impacted the local indigenous communities, with many children and adults suffering from eye abnormalities that might have been corrected with proper vision care. Stiede’s goal is to lead optometry mission trips to reach underserved populations in need of eye care.

For more information on the Zenni Eye Care Access Scholarship and general Zenni information, please visit zenni.com/impact. 

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