Five Outstanding Optometry Students Earn 2021 Dr. Marvin R. Poston Leadership Award

Dr. Poston Release Award Winners 2021_cropped2

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. – VSP Global® and the National Optometric Association (NOA) are proud to honor five students with the 2021 Dr. Marvin R. Poston Leadership Award. Named after the late, trailblazing optometrist and only Black American, co-founding member of VSP, the award is presented annually to current National Optometric Student Association (NOSA) optometry students who uphold Dr. Poston’s commitment to leadership, service and diversity. Award recipients were recently recognized during the NOA Convention and each received a $4,000 scholarship toward their education.

The 2021 recipients are:
Melisa Philogene, 1st year at Illinois College of Optometry 
Sophia Johnson, 2nd year at State University of New York College of Optometry
Claudia Amaniampong, 3rd year at University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science 
Raymond Farmer, OD, 4th year at State University of New York College of Optometry 
Walter Jackson, OD, 4th year and NOSA Executive Board President at University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry

Recipient Claudia Amaniampong said, “It’s a tremendous honor to receive the Dr. Marvin R. Poston Leadership Award as I am so inspired by Dr. Poston's legacy. I would like to thank VSP, NOA and the Poston family for their continued support of students.”

In addition to inspiring an award, Dr. Poston’s lifetime achievements include being the first Black American admitted to the University of California, Berkeley, School of Optometry, and becoming the first Black American licensed to practice on the entire West Coast. He was also the first Black American to be honored as Optometrist of the Year by the American Optometric Association and the California Optometric Association. He would also go on to help co-found VSP, California Vision Services at the time, and serve as the president. In 2019, the Dr. Poston Foundation, NOA and VSP established the Visioning the Future mentorship program, and this year, Dr. Poston was posthumously inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame.

Certainly, his memory’s most enduring quality was his passion to give back through counseling young optometrists and establishing multiple, free, eye care programs in his community.

“Dr. Poston’s legacy is synonymous with service to the profession of optometry and a commitment to patient care,” said Jarrett Johnson, OD, MPH, VSP Global board member and long-time NOA member. “We’re proud to honor these five exceptional optometry students who will help carry forward the example set by Dr. Poston.”  

Learn more about VSP’s ongoing commitment to diversity here.

*Award recipients in the image above from left to right: Claudia Amaniampong, Raymond Farmer, OD, Melisa Philogene, Walter Jackson, OD, and Sophia Johnson.

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About VSP Global
At VSP Global®, our purpose is to empower human potential through sight. As the first and only national not-for-profit vision benefits company, this is what drives everything we do. For more than 65 years, VSP has been the leader in health-focused vision care. Every day, the people who power our complementary businesses (VSP® Vision Care, Marchon® Eyewear, Inc., Visionworks®, Eyefinity®, Eyeconic®, VSP Optics, and VSP Ventures) work together to create a world where everyone can bring their best vision to life. That means providing affordable access to eye care and eyewear for more than 80 million members through a network of more than 39,000 doctors. And it means expanding access to vision care to those disadvantaged by income, distance, or disaster. Through VSP Eyes of Hope®, more than 3.3 million people in need have received no-cost eye care and eyewear. Learn more about how we’re reinvesting in greater vision, health, and opportunities for all at

About National Optometric Association
The National Optometric Association (NOA) was founded in 1969 in Richmond, Virginia, as a not-for-profit corporation. The NOA has been a leader in the cause of improving the quality and accessibility of eye care in minority and other historically underserved communities. Our mission of “advancing the visual health of minority populations,” through recruitment of minority students into schools and colleges of optometry, providing scholarships, and mentoring is a shared priority and commitment with VSP Global and the Dr. Marvin R. Poston Foundation. The development of the Visioning the Future Mentorship Program continues Dr. Poston’s legacy of helping the next generation of minority optometrist.




Ashley Torres Avila