Martinez Headshot Final

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.– VSP Global and the Heart of America Eye Care Congress announced today the recipient of Dr. Frank D. Fontana Memorial Scholarship: Matthew J. Martinez, a fourth-year student at the University of Missouri – St. Louis College of Optometry. Created in 2019, the prestigious Fontana Scholarship honors the legacy of iconic optometrist, Frank D. Fontana, affectionately known as “Uncle Frank.” Martinez received $5,000 as part of the scholarship this year.

Martinez has served as the President of the local chapter of the American Optometric Student Association (AOSA) and helped organize campus trade shows that allowed industry organizations to share eye care trends and new technology with students. Prior to attending optometry school, Martinez also served as the surgical technician in the optometry and ophthalmology department at the Irwin Army Community Hospital in Fort Riley, Kansas. These opportunities taught him leadership, resilience and commitment to patient care.

Although Martinez never met Dr. Fontana, he expressed the influence he had on his career. "The professional characteristics that Dr. Fontana exemplified have continuously made an impact on all those who knew him well,” said Martinez. “Dr. Fontana has provided a strong foundation and his profound influence will forever ripple throughout the optometry community. It is quite humbling to receive the scholarship bearing his name and I am extremely honored and thankful for this tremendous recognition." 

Dr. Fontana passed away in 2018 but served as a mentor and advocate for countless optometric educators and future leaders of the profession. He founded the Contact Lens & Cornea section of the American Optometric Association and co-founded the Heart of America Contact Lens Society. The Fontana Scholarship is offered to outstanding third- and fourth-year optometry students actively engaged in patient care. Applicants are judged in four areas in which Dr. Fontana excelled: 1) clinical performance, 2) empathetic patient care, 3) ability and interest to adopt modern technologies, and 4) a strong interest in developing and participating in the optometry community.

“Uncle Frank cared deeply about the next generation of optometry and this scholarship is one important way to continue to honor his memory,” said VSP Global Board Chair Mary Anne C. Murphy, OD. “We congratulate Mr. Martinez and look forward to his continued dedication to the profession we love.” 

The Heart of America Eye Care Congress President Dr. Wes Garton said, “The Heart of America Eye Care Congress, together with VSP Global, is happy to partner to memorialize Dr. Fontana and offer this phenomenal annual tribute to optometry. Our selection committee had a number of very qualified applicants and it was difficult to select a winning entry. Matthew Martinez is a deserving recipient and we are very happy to recognize him as this year’s winner.”

VSP has proudly supported optometry for more than 65 years and is committed to advantaging students and new graduates coming into the profession. In total, VSP has awarded more than $2.5 million in scholarships to optometry students. To learn more, visit vspscholarships.com.

*Pictured: Matthew J. Martinez

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About VSP Global

VSP Global is a doctor-governed company that exists to create value for members and opportunities for VSP network doctors. Our industry-leading businesses include VSP® Vision Care, the only national not-for-profit vision benefits company, which provides access to eye care for nearly 90 million members through a network of over 40,000 doctors worldwide; Marchon® Eyewear Inc., one of the world’s largest designers, manufacturers and distributors of high-quality eyewear and sunwear; VSP Optics, industry leaders in ophthalmic technology and lab services, providing custom lens solutions for the vision and lifestyle needs of patients; Eyefinity®, the industry leader in practice management and electronic health record software; VSP Retail, which focuses on increasing access to eye care and eyewear through multiple channels, and VSP® Ventures, which offers care-focused, customized choices for doctors looking to transition their practice.

About Heart of America Eye Care Congress

The Heart of America Eye Care Conference (HOAECC) has always been a proud supporter of the optometric profession for 59 years and will continue to develop meetings that offer camaraderie, education and innovation to its member doctors and Paras. Known by all as the “Heart,” the annual meeting has evolved over time much like the profession of optometry. It began to provide education for the development and application of contact lenses and has evolved and now continues to offer some of the best education in all facets of optometry.




Vibhuti Gupta