44 Students in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada Recognized as Best and Brightest

Practice Excellence Awards 2017

Rancho Cordova, Calif. — VSP Global® and the American Academy Optometry Foundation (AAOF), an affiliate of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO), has announced the 2017 Practice Excellence Scholarship recipients. Nearly $200,000 will be distributed amongst 44 top-performing fourth-year optometry students in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada.

“We congratulate these students on their studies and commitment to an important profession we all cherish,” said Dan Mannen, O.D., F.A.A.O., VSP Global Board Chairman. “We remain committed to continue our efforts of investing in the next generation of optometry.”

Two students from each college of optometry were selected as scholarship recipients from nominations submitted by their individual institutions. Since 2000, VSP has provided nearly $2 million in scholarship support to hundreds of optometry students.

The scholarships are funded through VSP Global’s Eyes of Hope® Global Charitable Fund in collaboration with FYi Doctors in Canada (for Canadian recipients) and is administered through the AAOF. Key criteria for selecting the scholarship recipients include the student’s commitment to enter the independent practice of optometry, clinical performance, and academic performance.

“We are excited to collaborate with VSP Global and the schools and colleges of optometry for another year to provide this important award to these deserving students,” said David Kirschen, OD, PhD, FAAO, President of the American Academy of Optometry Foundation.

The scholarship includes a travel grant to participate in the American Academy of Optometry's 96th annual meeting at the McCormick Convention Center in Chicago, IL. Recipients were recognized at a special reception on October 12th.

The 2017 Practice Excellence Scholarship recipients are:

Illinois College of Optometry - ICO

Taylor Harris

Jessica Chan

Indiana University School of Optometry - IUSO

Rachel Rexing

Christopher Reed

Inter American University of Puerto Rico, School of Optometry – IAUPRSO

Bianca Augustino

Christopher McCollum

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences- MCPHS

Jillian Boyd

Alison Zhou

Michigan College of Optometry - MCO at Ferris State University

Allison Webster

Kristen Johnson

Midwestern University Arizona College of Optometry - MUACO

Brett Christensen

Derek Blankenship

New England College of Optometry - NECO

Chantelle Davis

Karlee Muller

Northeastern State University Oklahoma, College of Optometry - NSUOCO

Randy Cox

Melanie Newcomer

NOVA Southeastern University College of Optometry - NSUCO

Meredith Kristin Barnes

Samuel Petro

Ohio State University College of Optometry - OSUCO

Cory J. Lappin

H. Tanner Wentzien

Pacific University College of Optometry - PUCO

Abby Taffe

Aaron Salzano

Pennsylvania College of Optometry - PCO at Salus University

Jordan Heidelbaugh

Joshua Heersink

Rosenberg School of Optometry - RSO University of the Incarnate Word

Katlyn Martin

Lindsey Primeaux

Southern California College of Optometry - SCCO at Marshall B. Ketchum University

Katherine Zhang

Mark Yeghiazarian

Southern College of Optometry - SCO

Chelci Reynolds

Allan McCleary

State University of New York College of Optometry  - SUNY

Elaina M. Nellis

Tristan Barrueco

University of Alabama at Birmingham - UAB

Jonathan Davis

Haley Hixon

University of California-Berkeley, School of Optometry - UCB

Steven Perry

Ece Turhal

University of Houston, College of Optometry - UHCO

Brian Hart

Melanie Deitch

University of Missouri -St. Louis, College of Optometry – UMSL

Michelle Zakem

Lorie Saint-Amour

University of Waterloo, School of Optometry and Vision Science - UWSOVS

Sana Owais

Courtney Fan

Western University of Health Sciences College of Optometry - WUHSCO

Kevin Drew

Katalina Yandell



About VSP Global

As a doctor-governed company, VSP Global® exists to create value for members and opportunities for VSP network doctors. VSP Global’s complementary businesses include VSP® Vision Care, the only national not-for-profit vision benefits company, which provides access to eye care for its 85 million members through a network of 38,000 member eye doctors; Marchon® Eyewear, Inc., one of the world’s largest designers, manufacturers and distributors of high quality eyewear and sunwear; VSP Optics Group, industry leaders in ophthalmic technology and lab services,  providing custom lens solutions for the vision and lifestyle needs of patients; Eyefinity®, the eye care industry’s largest electronic health records and practice management software company, and VSP Omni-Channel Solutions, which creates connected consumer experiences designed to strengthen the relationship between VSP members and their eye doctors. To date, VSP network doctors have provided eye exams and eyewear at no-cost to over a million people in need through a partnership with VSP Global’s Eyes of Hope®.




Jace Duval