VSP and AAOF Canadian Practice Excellence Scholarship

History and Purpose

VSP, has joined forces with the American Academy of Optometry Foundation (AAOF) to provide scholarships to optometry students at two schools of optometry in Canada.

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, in 2019, scholarships will be awarded to four students for a total of $6,000, including a travel grant to attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO). 


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 to help foster networking opportunities and teach the importance of Academy Fellowship.

Eligibility and Nomination

The submission window opens July 15, 2020 and closes August 15, 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 5 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 and AAOF Canadian 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 $750 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 planned reception to take place at Academy 2019 Orlando (invitation 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 meeting 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 award 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: 321-319-4870 


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

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

University of Montreal School of Optometry

Valerie Leff, Matthew Moerdick

University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science 
Melanie Chin, Rachel Ng

University of Montreal School of Optometry

Michelle Zakem, Lorie St-Amour

University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science 
Sana Owais, Courtney Fan