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RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.—VSP Global and the 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, according to the announcement this week. 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.

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

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 and Rema Idriss

• Illinois College of Optometry—Phoebe Chow and Randi-Jo Francis

• Indiana University School of Optometry—Sydney Lehman and Nina Rettig

• Inter American University of Puerto Rico, School of Optometry—Safinaz Gamini and Jessica Bertemati

• Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences—Carolyn Te and Cynthia Noorani

• Michigan College of Optometry—Azra Fazil-Jamal and Amanda Kruse

• Midwestern University Arizona College of Optometry—Bryan Grossman and Tyler Boyack

• New England College of Optometry—Jonathan Elin-Calcador and Nathan Bates

• Northeastern State University Oklahoma, College of Optometry—Kayla Cook and Kristina Flaig

• NOVA Southeastern University College of Optometry—Erik Kelly and Austin Mason

• Ohio State University College of Optometry—Kirsten Sullivan and Veronica Schuver

• Pacific University College of Optometry—Christina Goodrich and Megan Schmauder

• Pennsylvania College of Optometry—Gina Piorkowski and Tanya Vigdal

• Rosenberg School of Optometry—Bilal Ismail and Michelle Nguyen

• Southern California College of Optometry—Bradley Kovach and Lauren Zabaleta

• Southern College of Optometry—Jonathan Eide and Alec Waters

• State University of New York College of Optometry—Anthony Boyd and Emily Shtull

• University of Alabama at Birmingham—Sarah Kate Day and Whitney Powell

• University of California-Berkeley, School of Optometry—Joanna Toner and Jeffrey Kong

• University of Houston, College of Optometry—Linus Klingler and Sarah Wilting

• University of Missouri–St. Louis, College of Optometry—Katelyn Flood and Kyle Carnahan

• University of Montreal, School of Optometry—Anabel Cormier and Ariane Dupont

• University of Pikeville, Kentucky College of Optometry—Hannah Sigmon and Ambrosia Makini

• University of Waterloo, School of Optometry and Vision Science—Joanne Han Qiao and Christina Chen

• Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry—Suparna Bajaj and Alexander Bennett