History and Purpose

Over the last 10 years, VSP has provided more than $1 million dollars in scholarship support to hundreds of optometry students. Joining forces with the AAOF, scholarships in 2019 will be awarded to 46 students for a total of $174,000, including a travel grant to attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO).

VSP Global® has partnered with the American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF) to provide scholarships for optometry students at schools and colleges of optometry in the US and Puerto Rico. The scholarships will be funded through the VSP Global companies Eyes of Hope® Global Charitable Fund and administered by the AAOF.

Purpose

The travel grant will enable these outstanding students to attend a premier education opportunity in primary eye care, as well as attend a reception hosted by VSP Global to help foster networking opportunities and teach the importance of Academy Fellowship.

VSP, through the American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF), will make two awards of $4,000 each to two students entering their fourth year (graduating class of 2020) at each of the institutions of optometry in the United States and Puerto Rico. Each scholarship carries $3,250 in scholarship money and a $750 travel grant to attend Academy 2019 Orlando 3rd World Congress joint meeting on October 23rd - 27th, 2019.

Eligibility and Nomination

The submission window opens July 15, 2019 and closes August 15, 2019.

Scholarship recipients must be a student member of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO). Please visit Student Membership for more information.

Each institution's Awards and Scholarship committee is tasked with selecting a pool of five business minded students who meet the clinical and academic standards below and then & choose two scholarship recipients.

The AAOF will not accept applications directly from students for this program. AAOF will notify institutional contacts that the submission window is open for nominations.

Demonstrated excellence

  • Clinical Performance: Candidates must excel in delivering primary eye care services to clinical patients.
  • Academic Performance: Candidates must have a grade point average that ranks in the top half of the class.

Independent practice of optometry

  • Student should have a commitment to enter the independent practice of optometry.
  • Participation in the private practice or practice management club on campus recommended with special consideration given to students who have served a leadership role.
  • At the discretion of the selection committee, the selection process may include a written essay that encompasses the independent practice goals of the candidate.

Award Notes

The VSP/AAOF Practice Excellence Scholarship Program will be based on the above performance criteria only. Recipients shall not be restricted from receiving this scholarship as a result of receiving other awards, scholarships or grants-in-aid.

Per policy of the AAO/AAOF, the recipient of this scholarship will not be eligible to receive any additionally offered travel fellowship from the AAO or AAOF in the same year.

Each institution will be provided with an institution specific login and password for an online submission toll that will gather the institutions nominations.

Some VSP scholarships at previously determined institutions are named memorial scholarships. Those honors will continue to be attached to the scholarship and should be designated with the institution's submission.

An institution current IRS W-9 form must be submitted or be confirmed on file with the AAOF prior to scholarship processing.

Please send program materials to AAOF via: Jennifer Rubin - Foundation Program Manager Email: AAOF@aaoptom.org / Fax: 407-893-9890

Recognition of Recipients

Once the AAOF is notified of each institution’s selected recipients, scholarship checks in the amount of $3,250 will be mailed payable to the institution of the recipient. 

Each recipient travel grant check of $750 and an engraved plaque will be presented during a special reception sponsored by VSP which will take place at Academy 2019 Orlando (further details to follow). To receive those travel funds the student must also submit an IRS W-9 form or W-8BEN form if non-U.S. resident , no less than one month prior to attending the AAO annual meeting.

Each recipient of an AAOF travel award is requested to volunteer a small portion their time at the AAOF exhibit hall booth during Academy. Further details will be included in official congratulatory letters. 

Institutions are encouraged to also recognize the recipients at any planned award ceremonies that may be held prior to graduation.

Travel Exception

Students who have academic conflicts and cannot attend the Academy 2019 Orlando may apply their travel grant to Academy 2020 Nashville. Travel grants cannot be carried forward into the calendar year beyond 2020.

Foundation Policies

Institution representative's typically receive a confirming email within 1-3 business days after receipt on program materials. An additional message is only sent if your institution's nominations are not received by deadline. If you do not receive a confirmation contact Jennifer Rubin, Foundation Program Manager, at: Jenniferr@aaoptom.org or call our office: 321-319-4870.

All scholarship recipients by acceptance of the program funds agree to allow the AAOF and/or the sponsor of the program to publish their name, image, institution information, and any statement or quote provided by the recipient. These items may 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, optometric media publications, website, social media, and annual meeting promotional materials.

For further information on this program or any other offered by the AAOF contact:

Jennifer Rubin - Foundation Program Manager
American Academy of Optometry Foundation
2909 Fairgreen Street
Orlando, FL 32803, USA
Phone: 321-319-4872 
AAOF@aaoptom.org

Recipients

The 2018 Practice Excellence Scholarship recipients are:

Illinois College of Optometry 
Minh P. Jones, Griffin Durias

Indiana University School of Optometry 
Theodore Chow, Derek Phelps

Inter American University of Puerto School of Optometry 
Patrick Knighton, Hayden Senn

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Eun-young Esther Ko, Kelly Morgese

Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University
Taylor Smith, Luke Lirones

Midwestern University Arizona College of Optometry 
Brandon Call, Shelby Duffield

New England College of Optometry 
Victoria Gagnon, Cameron Sefton

Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry
Brittany Wilthuizen, Kelsey Buford

Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry 
Janna L. Parramore, Ivan Rodriguez-Mena

The Ohio State University College of Optometry
Kelly Marie Morgan, Hannah Davidson

Pacific University College of Optometry 
Candice Evernden, Erin Benstead

Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University
Katherine Boas, Susan Barnes 

Rosenberg School of Optometry University of the Incarnate Word
Shawn Westbrook, Aleen Kaltakdjian

Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University
Devon Kennedy, Jessica Sun

Southern College of Optometry 
Brittany Glatting, Donald York

State University of New York College of Optometry
Jacqueline Benoit, Brenda Tan

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry
Courtney Sartin, Conner Robbins

University of California-Berkeley School of Optometry
Joan Castaneda, Joelle Chan

University of Houston College of Optometry
Rami Aboumourad, Kristen Watt

University of Missouri -St. Louis College of Optometry
Valerie Leff, Matthew Moerdick

Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry 
Ilya Volk, Karen Diep

VSP Group Shot

About VSP Eyes of Hope

Eyes of Hope® is a global charity platform supporting activities that directly impact communities to give the gift of sight. United with one mission, multiple programs within the Eyes of Hope platform take on challenges involving access to eyecare around the globe.