VSP and AAOF Practice Excellence Scholarship

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 2020 will be awarded to 48 students for a total of $182,000, 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.


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 $3,250 each to two students entering their fourth year (graduating class of 2021) at each of the institutions of optometry in the United States and Puerto Rico. Each scholarship carries $3,250 in scholarship money. Travel grants have been postponed until further notice. 

Eligibility and Nomination

The submission window opens July 20, 2020 and closes August 17, 2020.

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.

For further information contact:

Jennifer Rubin
Grants and Awards Manager
2909 Fairgreen Street
Orlando, FL 32803, USA
Phone: 321-319-4872

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. 

Travel grants have been postponed until further notice. 

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

Travel Exception

Travel grants have been postponed until further notice. 

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, Grants and Awards Manager, at: AAOAwards@aaoptom.org or call 321-319-4872.

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 contact:

Jennifer Rubin
Grants and Awards Manager
2909 Fairgreen Street
Orlando, FL 32803, USA
Phone: 321-319-4872


The 2019 Practice Excellence Scholarship recipients are:

Illinois College of Optometry
Lauren Kunkel, Aaron Motacek

Indiana University School of Optometry
Mary Marte, Kalyn Wendholt

Inter American University of Puerto Rico School of Optometry
Samantha Chan, Travis Lipscomb

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Taylor Hall, Danielle Zapata

Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University
Steven Gibbs, Ankur Patel

Midwestern University Arizona College of Optometry
Jennifer Dryden, Liza Stremick

New England College of Optometry
Alexa Caruso, Chelsey Kritzer

Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry
Sahab Astani, William Colton Cheek

Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry
Phoebe Pan, Kaitlin Brown

The Ohio State University College of Optometry
Alex Lamorgese, Adell Walters

Pacific University College of Optometry
Liandra Jung, Ashley Stone

Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University
Andrew Muckin, Emile Seitz

Rosenberg School of Optometry
Patrick Clark, Kelly Tran

Southern California College of Optometry at Marshall B. Ketchum University
Alyssa Pack, Emiko Vasquez

Southern College of Optometry
Katelyn McGee, Trevor Shealy

State University of New York College of Optometry
Abigail Cash, Alicia Jones

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry
Mason Childers, Mohammed Haque

University of California Berkeley School of Optometry
Stephanie Tran, Rebecca Stapornkul

University of Houston College of Optometry
Ashley Nguyen, Megan Wagner

University of Missouri -St. Louis College of Optometry
Kelly Deering, Abigail Smith

University of Montreal School of Optometry
Antoine Aidans van der Poel, Lara Tchakmakian

University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Optometry
Kristen Lantz, Jacob Webster

University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science
Komal Patel, Angela Zhang

Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry
Kenny Huynh, Aiko Seffinger

VSP 2019 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.