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Southern College of Optometry welcomed 130 new graduates into the profession of optometry on Thursday, May 9, 2019 during the college's annual commencement ceremony held at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Memphis.
Optometrist and entrepreneur, Ronald Blum, OD ’72, delivered the commencement address and received the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in recognition of his significant contributions to the field of optometry.
Co-Valedictorians were Brian Chado and Larissa Krenk. The class address was given by Class President Amrik Tiwana.
Congratulations to this year's graduates:
Southern College of Optometry’s 34th Annual Student Awards program honored academic and clinical achievement by members of the Class of 2019 in an on-campus ceremony held the day prior to commencement.
Thanks to the generosity of SCO's donors from the ophthalmic industry and alumni supporters, the following students received awards and recognition during the event:
GOLD KEY HONORARY OPTOMETRIC SOCIETY
Membership in Gold Key is the highest leadership honor attainable by an optometry student and is restricted to ten percent of the fourth-year class:
Amrik Tiwana, President; Shelby Kruse, Vice President; Blair Flint, Secretary; Elizabeth Davis, Treasurer; Alicia Genilo, Jediah Harrison, Cayley Hyder, Jessica Jankiewicz, Caroline Seger, Nicolas Vu, Jeromica Ward, Brian Williams, Sarai Williams
BETA SIGMA KAPPA
Membership in Beta Sigma Kappa is awarded annually to students who demonstrate exceptional academic achievement:
Doan Thuc Moore
ACADEMIC AND CLINICAL EXCELLENCE
NATIONAL BOARD OF EXAMINERS IN OPTOMETRY PART II HIGHEST SCORE
LUCY KATHERINE BONE ORGAIN AWARD
SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL OPTOMETRISTS OF GEORGIA
EXCELLENCE IN DISPENSING SKILLS
ESSILOR LABS OF AMERICA AWARD
EXCELLENCE IN CONTACT LENS
JOHNSON & JOHNSON AWARD OF EXCELLENCE IN CONTACT LENS PATIENT CARE
GP LENS INSTITUTE CONTACT LENS CLINICAL EXCELLENCE AWARD
X-CEL CONTACTS OUTSTANDING GP FITTING AWARD
VALLEY CONTAX AWARD
SOUTHWEST CONTACT LENS SOCIETY
EXCELLENCE IN LOW VISION REHABILITATION
LS&S GROUP LOW VISION AWARD
NoIR LOW VISION AWARD
ESCHENBACH OPTIK LOW VISION STUDENT AWARD
DESIGNS FOR VISIONS, INC. WILLIAM FEINBLOOM LOW VISION AWARD
OPTELEC EXCELLENCE IN LOW VISION AWARD
DR. LEWIS REICH LOW VISION ENDOWED AWARD
FOR CLINICAL EXCELLENCE IN PRIMARY CARE
MARCHON EYEWEAR PRACTICE MANAGEMENT AWARD
ALCON CASE STUDY SCHOLARSHIP AWARD
SOUTHERN COUNCIL OF OPTOMETRISTS CLINICAL EXCELLENCE AWARD
DR. BERNARD L. KAHN MEMORIAL ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP
HOYA VISION CARE AWARD
NATIONAL VISION, INC. AWARD
SHOPKO OPTICAL AWARD
EXCELLENCE IN OCULAR DISEASE
OCULAR INSTRUMENTS, INC. AWARD OF EXCELLENCE
KATENA / EAGLE VISION
RAFIEETARY ACADEMIC AND CLINICAL EXCELLENCE AWARD
EXCELLENCE IN PEDIATRICS AND VISION THERAPY
COLLEGE OF OPTOMETRISTS IN VISION DEVELOPMENT EXCELLENCE IN VISION THERAPY
GLEN T. STEELE, OD AND L. ALLEN FORS, OD DEVELOPMENTAL VISION SCHOLARSHIP
DR. W.C. MAPLES AWARD
STEREO OPTICAL CO., INC.
OEP CLINICAL CURRICULUM AWARD
OUTSTANDING CLINICIAN AWARDS
Given in memory of former faculty member, Robert L. Henry, OD.
DRS. FRED AND CHARLENE BURNETT STUDENT RESEARCH AWARD
FOR COMMITMENT OF SERVICE TO THE PROFESSION OF OPTOMETRY AND THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE
SUSAN GRISSOM MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP
SECO PAST PRESIDENTS ENDOWED AWARD
BEAU WILLIS ENDOWED AWARD
DR. DAVID P. SLOAN MEMORIAL AWARD
BAYS FAMILY SERVICE AWARD
SOUTHWEST COUNCIL OF OPTOMETRY ENDOWED AWARD
OPTOMETRIC LEADERSHIP EXCELLENCE AWARD
CLASS OF 1967 ENDOWED AWARD
MARK J. MURPHY ENDOWED AWARD
SPARROW, EVANS AND WAYMON SCHOLARSHIP
TO HONOR A GRADUATE’S COMMITMENT TO PURSUING PRIVATE PRACTICE OPTOMETRY
DR. SIDNEY EDELSTEIN MEMORIAL AWARD
THE WINSTON FAMILY ENDOWED AWARD
MOTHERSHED ENDOWED AWARD
HALPERN FAMILY ENDOWED AWARD
DR. JAMES SANDFEUR ENDOWED AWARD
SPIVEY ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP
Ronald Blum, OD ’72, was chosen to receive SCO’s Doctor of Ocular Science degree and deliver the commencement address to the Class of 2019. The Founder and Chairman of NewSight Reality, Inc., Dr. Blum has founded and led a number of companies, including Encore Health and Encore Vision, which merged and sold to Novartis in 2017.
He also founded and led The Egg Factory, PixelOptics, and Innotech, part of his track record of success as a visionary innovator and businessman. As the inventor or co-inventor of more than 750 patents worldwide, Dr. Blum is one of the world’s leading inventors in the fields of optics, electronic eyewear, and vision correction. He was one of the inventors of eye drops for treating presbyopia and for spectacle lenses that block high energy blue light to provide protection against macular degeneration.
He led and managed the team that invented an developed the Definity Lens, a progressive addition lens acquired in 2005 by Essilor, the world’s largest lens manufacturer. The Definity Lens at the time became the number one selling digitally surfaced progressive addition lens in North America. ‘’
Dr. Blum founded a practice that had grown to be one of the largest multi-location private professional practices in the Southeastern United States. He has served on the Board of Trustees of Roanoke College. Although he stopped examining eyes in 1989, he continues to contribute to advances that improve sight and improve vision care through his active work as an inventor and entrepreneur.
When Janine Twitchell visited FocalPoint at Crosstown Concourse for a routine, comprehensive eye exam, she never expected to be diagnosed with an Acute Narrow Angle, considering the fact she has never had any previous ocular problems. An Acute Narrow Angle puts a person at risk for Acute Closure Glaucoma, which could lead to vision loss.
“I struggled to understand what it was. I was in total disbelief,” said Twitchell.
“Incidental findings like narrow angle glaucoma are not uncommon. Many eye diseases and condition may not have symptoms that drive a patient to have an exam,” said Optometric Physician Whitney Hauser, OD, ’01. “This is one of the reasons annual eye exams should be a part of people’s wellness routine like visiting the dentist.”
Kelsey Newcome, ’19, who performed Twitchell’s eye exam, performed a skill known as gonioscopy to look more closely at her angle. It was clear that they were very narrow, and this could put her at risk for angle closure glaucoma.
“What’s interesting is that you will not have symptoms if you have a narrow angle which shows how important it is to have an annual eye exam even if you don’t have any symptoms,” said Newcome.
Despite being surprised with her diagnosis, Twitchell thoroughly enjoyed her experience at FocalPoint and was extremely happy that they saw first signs of her condition. “The service was wonderful, and the student was super thorough,” said Twitchell. “I want to give credit for being so thorough and quick to finding the problem.”
After Twitchell’s eye exam, Dr. Hauser and Newcome referred her for a laser peripheral iridotomy at University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center’s Hamilton High Center. The procedure was performed by her colleague Dr. Brian Jerkins.
“Narrow angle patients always concern me, because in many cases you can prevent glaucoma or significantly lessen the severity they may develop without appropriate diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr. Jerkins. Many of these patients have subtle signs or symptoms that can be picked up on routine exams that can detect those with narrow angles.
The iridotomy procedure is performed under topical anesthesia in an office procedure room setting. A contact lens is placed on the cornea with magnification to visualize the peripheral iris. A small full thickness hole or iridotomy is then made with the use of a YAG or Argon laser. This allows aqueous fluid to flow from behind the iris to the anterior chamber of the eye. This allows pressure to equalize on both sides of the iris or pupil causing the angle in many cases to open and the anterior chamber deepen. Once this is visualized, the contact lens is removed, and the procedure is completed.
“Once it was confirmed after exam that she did have narrow angles and she was in need of treatment a laser peripheral iridotomy was recommended in her case,” said Dr. Jerkins. “It was a delight to have a nice patient like Janine who is concerned about her health and seeks out care.”
Once the procedure was complete, Twitchell returned to FocalPoint for the remainder of her care.
“FocalPoint made me more aware of my eye health and the importance of early detection,” said Twitchell. "I’m so happy to have visited FocalPoint."
During our 2019 Faculty and Staff Appreciation Luncheon, two members of our SCO family were honored for their hard work and dedication to service in the Memphis community with the inaugural EYEServe Outstanding Community Service Award. This year’s recipients were Janice Frazier-Scott from our Human Resources Department and Dr. Julie Shalhoub.
As part of SCO’s strategic plan, our goal is to reinforce a “culture of service” and encourage enhanced collaboration with community partners; therefore, the purpose of the EYEServe Award is to recognize at least one champion each year who is highly engaged in the local community.
The annual award is designed to honor high levels of community service, including volunteer work and leadership roles and the recipients were nominated by their peers.
Janice Frazier-Scott was awarded for her longtime community and civil rights work with the Memphis Branch of the NAACP where she served as a member of the Executive Board.
“It was such a surprise and honor to be selected as one of the inaugural recipients of the EYEServe award. I grew up as one taught that to whom much is given, much is required,” said Scott. “I am inspired by this honor to continue to serve wherever I can.”
Mrs. Scott has also been a member of the Melrose High School Alumni Association for over 20 years and has been an active member in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated where she currently works with the Delta GEM program, which is a mentoring program for high school girls.
Dr. Julie Shalhoub was awarded for her volunteer work as a mentor with Youth Villages. Her commitment to service in the Memphis community has begun since her time here at SCO.
“A big reason that drew me to SCO was our commitment to service and involvement in the community. My time as a mentor through Youth Villages has been life changing and inspiring.,” said Dr. Shalhoub. “It’s been an honor to be recognized for service and encourage everyone to find a way to give back.”
Learn more in her Memphis Vision blog post: memphisvision.org/blog/posts/julie-shalhoub.
Each award recipient received a medallion and representatives from the NAACP and Youth Villages were on hand to receive a contribution made in each recipient's honor.
Congratulations to these inaugural recipients of the Eye Serve Memphis Awards!