History and Purpose

The grant was introduced by AAOF board members in 2014 and first implemented in 2015. Two schools participated the first year. To date 8 schools have participated in the program with 18 students being awarded travel grants.


To increase American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF) student participation; create a climate of giving back to the profession, and promote involvement in American Academy of Optometry (AAO) chapters at North-American Schools and Colleges of Optometry. To encourage AAO membership and AOF participation at the annual meeting by offering a matching student travel grant program to attend the Academy's annual meeting.

Nomination Procedures

The submission window opens January 1, 2018 and closes June 15, 2018.

Students are challenged to raise, either through gifts by fellow students or by fundraising initiatives, $750. The AAOF would then match that amount so the AAO student chapter would be able to award two travel fellowships to the next AAO annual meeting. This could be accomplished through a variety of fundraising activities. Groups should work in consultation with their institution's AAO Student Chapter Liaison.

Students cannot petition or ask their institution, faculty, or industry, to provide the funds. This program is to facilitate student giving.

  1. Final selected nominees must be student members of the AAO. To learn more, visit: Student Membership
  2. Each student gift should be consistent with what the student member can afford. The goal is to have each member of the student chapter participate. Institutions and industry would be prohibited from contributing. This program is to facilitate student giving.
  3. Recipients shall be selected by a fair process open to all qualified chapter members regardless of the individual amount donated.
  4. Each AAO student chapter would collect the funds and write one $750 check to the AAOF. Mail to: AAOF/Attn: Maureen Dimont 2909 Fairgreen St. Orlando, FL 32803
  5. The specific timeline concerning when the money needs to be given to the AAOF office would be determined by the AAOF and communicated to the AAO student chapter and liaison.

Here are some examples of methods for raising funds based on student comments:

  • Post on social media and e-mail a challenge to students or have a class-to-class challenge
  • Bake or food sales
  • Carwashes
  • Selling eyeglass lapel pins
  • Photo fundraiser. Charge a specified sum for unlimited photos with a prominent faculty member Dress up, theme it
  • Lunch and learn. Raffle off an opportunity fo have a lunch and learn session with your institution leader
  • Candy-gram sales


The AAO student chapter with the advice of the School/College Awards Committee and/or faculty advisor would determine which two students get the travel fellowships.

Completed SGM Nomination Form 2018 should be sent via email to: AAOF@aaoptom.org with the subject line: Student Giving + Institution Name.


The AAOF will contact the award winners formally and provide information about AAOF events held during Academy. The award checks will be presented to the awardees during the annual meeting . At the 2018 annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) in San Antonio; each recipient will spend volunteer time at the AAOF Booth and be presented for recognition at the annual AAOF Celebration Luncheon on Saturday, November 10th.

Travel checks will be made out directly to the student. A W9 form (or W-8BEN if non-U.S. resident) must be submitted or be on file at the AAO Office prior to release of any travel funds.


All award recipients by application/nomination and acceptance of an award agree to allow the AAOF and/or the sponsor of the award to which they applied to publish their name, image, institution information, and any statement or quote provided by the recipient. These will appear in a variety of media formats that will announce and promote the program including, but not limited to, the AAOF and/or sponsor annual report, website, social media, annual meeting promotional materials or press release.

For additional information contact Jennifer Rubin, Foundation Program Manager, at: 321-319-4870 or AAOF@aaoptom.org.



Lindsey Colliver & Nicole Schmiedt
Indiana University School of Optometry

Stephanie Gee & Maria Nguyen  
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Kevin Stieb & Brittany Wolthuizen 
Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry

Rachel Fenton & Elizabeth Lemos
The Ohio State University College of Optometry

Jessica Arighi Boyd, Conner Robbins, Emma Wilhite Scott, & Jinen (Jay) Shah 
University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry

Nicole Flowers & Jacob Webster 
University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry

Bryan Kimura & Bashir Tarraf 
Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry

Christine Weng & Nicole Poon 
State University of New York College of Optometry


Jennifer M. Sitko and Sara Marie Siebert
Indiana University School of Optometry

Thomas B. Lambert and Taylor Dahms
University of Missouri -St. Louis College of Optometry

Jacqueline Duong and Amy Field
Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry

Catherine D'Ardenne and Ryan Nguyen
State University of New York College of Optometry

Katharine Funari and Samantha Myers
Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University


Jinyoung Choe and Linda Shi
SUNY College of Optometry

Victoria Chan and Edward Hsieh
Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry

Student Matching Giving w/ DK 2017

2017 Student Giving Matching Travel Grant recipients with AAOF President, David Kirschen

Additional Student Travel Fellowship (STF) Opportunities through the American Academy of Optometry

Each year the Academy offers a number of travel fellowships of $750 each for students to attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO). Fellowships are awarded primarily for accomplishment and potential in optometric research and education. Being the presenter of a paper or poster is typically required.

Learn More…