NEW YORK—Alumni from across the country will come together in New York City in September to celebrate with former classmates and honor distinguished colleagues at the SUNY College of Optometry Alumni Reunion and celebration on Saturday, Sept. 9 at The Empire Ballroom at 230 Fifth Avenue here. This year’s honorees include: Dr. Julia Appel, ’91, R’92 (Distinguished Resident Alumni of the Year); Dr. Mary Botelho, ’17, R’18 (Rising Star); Dr. Viola Kanevsky, ’93 (Alumna of the Year); and Dr. Damaris Raymondi, ’15 (Alumni Mentor of the Year).

Dr. Julia Appel was recognized during the annual Residents Program Farewell Ceremony in June. Dr. Appel has served as a member of the SUNY Optometry faculty since 1992, supporting students as the clinical education coordinator for third-year interns and as an eyecare provider in the University Eye Center until her retirement earlier this summer. Dr. Appel served the College and alumni community as Alumni Association president (2009 to 2013), championed the first-ever capital campaign and encouraged the funding of the Class of 1991 Pacesetter Award.

She received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2015, the New York State Optometric Association’s Optometric Educator of the Year Award in 2017 and was named the 2019 Alumna of the Year by the SUNY College of Optometry Alumni Association. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a diplomate of the American Board of Optometry.

 (Clockwise from top left) Julia Appel, OD, ’91, R’92; Mary Botelho, OD, ’17, R’18; Viola Kanevsky, OD, ’93; and Damaris Raymondi, OD, ’15.
At commencement this year, Dr. David A. Heath, president of SUNY College of Optometry, bestowed upon Dr. Appel the Presidential Medallion for her career-long contributions and dedication to the advancement of the College and the communities it serves.

Prior to attending SUNY Optometry, Dr. Botelho graduated from Marist College with a B.S. in Biological and Biomedicine Sciences. Currently, she sees patients at the NYU Langone Family Group Practice and is director of optometry at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. Prior to Bellevue Hospital, Dr. Botelho worked in multiple clinics and neighborhoods throughout the boroughs of New York City.

On Coney Island, she provided pediatric eyecare and partnered with OneSight to provide free glasses to students in need. In Sunset Park, Brooklyn, at NYU Langone Brooklyn Hospital, she provided care to many uninsured patients with socioeconomic barriers. There she performed outpatient exams, emergency room and inpatient consults, and during the peak of COVID-19 she performed bedside eye exams in the COVID ICU. Dr. Botelho also serves as an externship site supervisor for fourth year students and is a SUNY adjunct faculty member.

Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Viola Kanevsky was named the #1 optometrist in the nation on the list of Newsweek's "America’s Best Eye Doctors in 2022 and 2023" and was named NYSOA’s Optometrist of the year. She is an active volunteer, mentor and advocate for SUNY College of Optometry.

She is the immediate past president of the New York State Optometric Association (NYSOA) having served on its board in various capacities for several years. She has also held volunteer and elected positions in the American Optometric Association, the Optometric Society of the City of New York, and the Interschool Orchestras of New York. She is the treasurer of the New York chapter of Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) and has joined VOSH on medical missions in underserved areas around the world.

Before attending SUNY Optometry, Dr. Kanevsky earned a BS from Pace University and currently is a pediatric optometrist specializing in custom contact lenses, who has practiced on the Upper West Side for almost 30 years. As an avid supporter of the arts and prolific writer, Dr. Kanevsky is a contributing editor of ODs on Facebook and editor in chief of Insights, the monthly newsletter of the Optometric Society of the City of New York.

A board member for Women In Optometry, Dr. Kanevsky often shares articles and insights on optometry. She also supports the New York Youth Symphony and Concerts in Motion.

Dr. Damaris Raymondi graduated Summa Cum Laude from St. John's University with a B.S. degree in biology and is a member of The New York State Optometric Association. Dr. Raymondi focuses on pediatrics and general ocular disease in her practice. She volunteers as an advisor to the non-profit organization Sights on Health which provides annual cataract surgical and medical missions to those in need in the U.S. and abroad.

On social media she is @newyorkeyedoc and she hosts a weekly podcast, Eyes Up, on which she interviews inspiring health care professionals with conversations meant to recharge her listeners before they start their workweek. Dr. Raymondi has served as a mentor to SUNY Optometry students the past few years and was selected by students in the mentoring program for this award.

To reserve a ticket for the 7:00 p.m. Alumni Awards Celebration click here.