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SCO recently announced a number of key staffing hires and a promotion. All four positions work closely with students and alumni:
Lauren Trowbridge brings a strong background in fundraising/development to our institution. Her most recent position was Corporate Development Officer for Make A Wish Foundation. She previously was associated with the American Cancer Society, with responsibility for Northeast Arkansas and the Memphis area as the Community Development Manager. She began her development/fundraising career with the March of Dimes, also in Arkansas. She holds an undergraduate degree from Liberty University and a master’s degree from Liberty Theological Seminary.
Delores Johnson came to SCO from American National University, where her last position was Director of Health Information Management. Her responsibilities included not only student instruction and administrative responsibilities associated with program maintenance and accreditation but also oversight, leadership, and direction in the Health Information Management program. She has also held various positions in healthcare in several organizations, including Baptist-Trinity Healthcare Services and Methodist Health Systems. She holds an undergraduate degree in Health Care Management from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree in Health Informatics and Information Management from UT Health Science Center.
Rebecca Smietana was named Assistant Director of Admissions and Student Services. Rebecca held the Student Services and Admissions Officer position at SCO from August 2017 through December 2019 before she departed to serve as Director of Partner Relations for the Global Learning Collective. Prior to her time at SCO, she worked for both Saginaw Valley State University and the University of Michigan, providing advising and enrollment services for international education programs. Mrs. Smietana has an MBA from the University of Michigan-Flint. As Assistant Director of Admissions and Student Services, she will focus on traditional Registrar functions while participating in the full scope of the department’s functions.
Mike Robertson’s existing role was expanded to include the direct supervision and coordination of work for Rebecca Smietana’s position, as well as for the Director of Student Recruitment, Student Services and Admissions Officer and Student Services Administrative Assistant. Robertson’s new title will become Senior Director-Admissions and Student Services at the beginning of our new fiscal year.
The Class of 2021 celebrated its commencement on Tuesday, May 4 at FedEx Forum. SCO worked with the sports arena to welcome graduates, a limited number of guests, and faculty members for a physically distanced ceremony.
Samantha Harris was named Class Valedictorian, while Samantha Lee was Salutatorian. Class President Marie Huegel spoke for the entire class in saluting our graduates’ commitment to seeing commencement day in person. The class selected John Mark Jackson, OD ’99, as Teacher of the Year.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland encouraged the graduates to embrace their future confident that they’ve successfully demonstrated their ability to meet life’s challenges head-on through service. Mayor Strickland received an honorary degree, along with Joyce Urbeck, retired Director of the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education.
In lieu of hosting a separate Senior Awards Ceremony, graduates were honored during the ceremony with recognition of outstanding and academic clinical achievements. Thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends, more than $60,000 in awards were presented. Below is a list of the awards presented:
NATIONAL BOARD OF EXAMINERS PART II AWARD ($1,000)
LUCY KATHERINE BONE ORGAIN AWARD ($1,000)
CHRISTINE AND GEORGE DUCOTE, OD ’40 SCHOLARSHIP ($500)
ESSILOR LABS OF AMERICA AWARD ($500)
BAUSCH & LOMB ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP ($500)
JOHNSON & JOHNSON AWARD OF EXCELLENCE IN CONTACT LENS PATIENT CARE ($500 and Plaque)
GP LENS INSTITUTE CONTACT LENS CLINICAL EXCELLENCE AWARD (Gas Permeable Diagnostic Lens Set and Plaque)
X-CEL CONTACTS OUTSTANDING GP FITTING AWARD (Atlantis Scleral Diagnostic Kit)
SOUTHWEST CONTACT LENS SOCIETY ($1,500)
KATENA/EAGLE VISION AWARD (Super Eagle Practice Builder’s Kit)
KATENA/EAGLE VISION AWARD (Arita Meibomian Gland Expressor)
KATENA/EAGLE VISION AWARD (Diamond Series Lenses with Carrying Case)
NOIR MEDICAL TECHNOLOGIES LOW VISION AWARD (NoIR Eyewear for low vision)
ESCHENBACH OPTIK LOW VISION AWARD (Video Magnifier with an HD Camera)
DESIGNS FOR VISIONS, INC. WILLIAM FEINBLOOM LOW VISION AWARD (Trial Set and Plaque)
OPTELEC EXCELLENCE IN LOW VISION AWARD (Optelec Low Vision Starter Kit)
ALCON CASE STUDY SCHOLARSHIP AWARD ($1,000)
SOUTHERN COUNCIL OF OPTOMETRISTS CLINICAL EXCELLENCE AWARD ($1,000)
Malena Landon Erickson
DR. BERNARD L. KAHN MEMORIAL ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP ($2,000)
Ye Ji Kim
NATIONAL VISION, INC. AWARD ($1,000)
DR. MOHAMMAD RAFIEETARY ACADEMIC AND CLINICAL EXCELLENCE AWARD ($1,000)
GOOD-LITE AWARD (Pediatric Vision Testing and Evaluation Products)
COLLEGE OF OPTOMETRISTS IN VISION DEVELOPMENT EXCELLENCE IN VISION THERAPY (Plaque, 1st year associate membership free, and meeting registration credit)
GLEN T. STEELE, OD AND L. ALLEN FORS, OD DEVELOPMENTAL VISION SCHOLARSHIP Given in honor of Glen T. Steele, OD ’69 and the late L. Allen Fors, OD ’69. ($1,000)
OPTOMETRIC EXTENSION PROGRAM CLINICAL CURRICULUM AWARD (Complimentary Registration and 5-day Course)
Given in memory of former faculty member, Robert L. Henry, OD. Selected by the clinical faculty on the basis of overall exemplary clinical performance during senior year. ($1,000 and Plaque)
BURNETT ENDOWED AWARD FOR STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT IN RESEARCH Established by Charlene Burnett, OD ’83 and the late Fred Burnett, OD ’80. ($1,000)
SUSAN GRISSOM MEMORIAL ENDOWED AWARD ($1,000)
SECO PAST PRESIDENTS ENDOWED AWARD ($1,000)
BEAU WILLIS ENDOWED AWARD ($1,000)
DR. DAVID P. SLOAN MEMORIAL AWARD ($500)
BAYS FAMILY ENDOWED SERVICE AWARD ($500)
SOUTHWEST COUNCIL OF OPTOMETRY ENDOWED AWARD ($1,000)
CLASS OF 1967 MEMORIAL ENDOWED AWARD ($1,000)
Casey Krug and Lauren Watson
MARK J. MURPHY ENDOWED AWARD ($1,000)
SPARROW, EVANS, AND WAYMON ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP ($1,000)
DR. SIDNEY EDELSTEIN ENDOWED AWARD ($1,000)
Anna Katherine Lansdell
WINSTON FAMILY ENDOWED AWARD ($1,000)
TOM AND LOUIS HYDE SCHOLARSHIP ($2,000)
WILLIAM DICKERSON, JR. OD SCHOLARSHIP ($1,000)
DR. FRED H. MOTHERSHED ENDOWED AWARD ($1,000)
HALPERN FAMILY ENDOWED AWARD ($1,000)
Alexis Williams Smith
DR. JAMES D. SANDEFUR ENDOWED AWARD ($1,000)
Rachel Briggs and Andrew Leto
SPIVEY FAMILY ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP ($1,000)
EUROPA EYEWEAR AWARD (30 Starter Frames)
THE SOUTHEAST VT FORUM SCHOLARSHIP In memory of Dr. Sam Horner Jr. and in honor of W.C. Maples, OD ’68. ($1,000)
STEREO OPTICAL CO., INC. (Borish Vectrograhic Near Point Card)
KEVIN ROGERS, OD ’08 PRACTICE MANAGEMENT AWARD ($500)
The ceremony was recorded and is available for viewing on SCO’s YouTube page, the senior class video.
You may also view a PDF of the program here.
Click here for the full Flickr Gallery for Commencement Week 2021
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Joyce L. Urbeck have been selected as recipients of honorary degrees at SCO's commencement ceremony on May 4, 2021. Mayor Strickland is currently in his second term of office and will also deliver the commencement address. Ms. Urbeck devoted 46 years to the profession of optometry before her retirement last summer.
Jim Strickland was sworn in as mayor of Memphis for a second term on January 1, 2020. Mayor Strickland is a 1982 graduate of Christian Brothers High School, a 1986 graduate of the University of Memphis, and a 1989 graduate of the School of Law at the U of M. He practiced law at Glankler Brown PLLC from 1990 to 1998, when he began practicing at Kustoff & Strickland PLLC, where he remained until becoming mayor. Mayor Strickland was elected to the Memphis City Council in 2007, and served as its chairman in 2014. In eight years representing District 5, then-councilman Strickland became known for fighting for government transparency and public safety. Community service has long been a part of Mayor Strickland’s life. He has served with various organizations, such as the St. Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen, where he continues to volunteer. He is a gold life member of the NAACP.
Joyce L. Urbeck devoted her 46-year career to the profession of optometry. A 1974 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, she began her association with optometry in 1974 as Placement Service Coordinator and Quarterly Editor for the American Optometric Association. In 1978, she was named Associate Director of the AOA’s Education and Manpower Division, where she directed the AOA’s Student Recruitment program to improve the quality of optometry school applicants. She was later named Manager of the AOA’s Low Vision Section. In 1986, Ms. Urbeck was named Director of the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education, a critically important role for assuring an effective accreditation process in optometric education. After nearly 35 years of leading the ACOE, she retired in August 2020.
SCO’s chapter of the Gold Key Society has announced the new Gold Key International Optometric Honor Society members for the Class of 2022! Membership in Gold Key is limited to 10% of each class. The mission of this organization is to recognize upperclassmen who demonstrate outstanding professional and ethical attitude through leadership and service to their class, college, and profession. The following students have worked hard during their time at SCO and have fulfilled this mission. Congratulations to the following students:
President: Suzanne Falkowski
Vice President: Gabby Magee
Secretary: Tessa Lau
Treasurer: Kelly Nguyen
Congratulations to Ahmed Siddiqui, '24, on being named SCO's new AOSA Trustee-Elect. He joins AOSA Trustee Nicole Wohlford, '23, in representing SCO on a national level AOSA Board.
Congratulations are also in order for the newest members of the SCO Board from the Class of 2024, including Zach Groves, Nithya Vemula, Jessica Rischling, and Katie Doan!