AAOF Announces 2019 VSP Global Scholarship Recipients

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ORLANDO, Fla.—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 U.S., 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.

“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 from October 23 to 27 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. 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 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