NEW YORK—The SUNY College of Optometry and its foundation, the Optometric Center of New York (OCNY), recognized over 50 current students during the college’s annual Scholarship Presentation program with an audience of donors, students, alumni, parents and foundation board members. Hosted annually, it brings together scholarship recipients and donors to celebrate academic achievement, dedication and philanthropy. The OCNY Foundation’s scholarship program has grown substantially over the past two decades. Starting with five scholarships awarded to six students, the efforts have grown to 27 named scholarships supporting over 50 students annually.

The generosity of donors allows the foundation to provide nearly $370,000 in total scholarship and grant support to deserving SUNY Optometry students on their journey to become eye doctors.

“This is a wonderful evening, one of the highlights of the year, where donors are brought together with the scholarship students,” noted SUNY College of Optometry president Dr. David A. Heath. “I cannot stress enough how meaningful it is, and how important it is, that when student debt is reduced by virtue of these scholarships, our generous donors are providing our students with greater choice and opportunity in their optometric journey.”

Dr. Heath noted that this year, the OCNY saw a scholarship increase of $50,000, including several new scholarships: Optical Community Scholarship, which will be given annually to optometry students who demonstrate personal experience with or an interest in working with underrepresented patients and communities; Community Health Lecture Scholarship, which is awarded to those interested in health care access and community health centers; and Paul Canney Scholarship, a scholarship donated by Class of 2023 alumna Dr. Avalena Linsky, and named for her great-grandfather who helped inspire Dr. Linsky’s journey. This is anticipated to be an annual scholarship in the years to come.

More than 50 students receive scholarships at SUNY Optometry’s annual Scholarship Presentation.

Dr. Linsky spoke fondly of her great-grandfather, noting his very advanced macular degeneration and his struggle to find access to adequate health care in the part of the country where he lived. “My great-grandfather funded part of my education, so my mom and I couldn’t think of a better way to honor him, than to contribute to someone else’s education who is studying advanced competency in ocular disease.”

“We offer our heartfelt thanks to all of the donors who have supported scholarships throughout the years. Your donations, whether from alumni, Foundation board members, industry partners, or community members, truly have an impact on the lives of our students and ultimately the patients they serve throughout their career,” said Dawn Rigney, executive director of the Optometric Center of New York.

View a complete list of the 2023 scholarships and recipients here.

To establish a named or endowed scholarship in support of SUNY College of Optometry students, contact Dawn Rigney, at or (212)-938-5600.