AAOF Student Giving Matching Travel Grants

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 12 schools have participated in the program with 30 students being awarded travel grants.


To increase American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF) student membership and 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 by attending the Academy's annual meeting.

Nomination Procedures

The submission window opens January 3, 2022 and closes June 30, 2022.

Students are challenged to raise $750, either through gifts by fellow students or by fundraising initiatives. 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: Jennifer Rubin 622 E. Washington St #300 Orlando, FL 32801
  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
  • Car washes
  • 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 Form 2022 should be sent via email to AAOAwards@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 or shortly thereafter.

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.

If the ability to send funds via ACH direct deposit becomes available the recipient will then provide the Foundation with their bank information to process the transfer. 


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 further information contact:

Jennifer Rubin
Awards and Student Membership Engagement Manager
622 E. Washington St. #300
Orlando, FL 32801
Phone: 321-319-4872


The 2021 recipients and the participating institutions are:

Illinois College of Optometry

Alex Karthikeyan
Andrea Meagher
Indiana University School of Optometry
Noa Robson
Erica Tharp
Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry
Ameerah Al-Sadi
Jenna Dougherty
Nathan Kuykendall
Kevin Struble
Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry
Amanda Aker
Brianna Herring
The Ohio State University College of Optometry
Leah Hazen
Allison Neuhaus
Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University
Raisa Ahmed
Jennifer Liu
State University of New York College of Optometry
Rebecca Hung
Michelle Kim 
Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University
Sara Ahdoot
Cade Oost
University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry
Brooke Hubbard
Tiffany Jones
Anna Lorino
Darian Travis 
University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry
Gabrielle Ault
Jessica Johnson
Ashley Richmond
Cydney Roberts
University of Missouri - St. Louis College of Optometry
Jacqueline Bongard
Katie Kyles
Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry
Maria Habib
Mikala Herr
Samantha Carrillo
Crystal Sin 

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…