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Faculty, students, residents, and alumni enjoyed representing SCO at the first in-person meeting of the American Academy of Optometry in two years.
Held in Boston, the Academy meeting drew a large number of SCO attendees eager to participate after last year’s meeting in nearby Nashville went virtual during the height of the pandemic.
SCO’s student team placed third out of 23 optometry schools in the Essilor Academic Challenge. Congratulations to Meredith Fry, ’23, Regan Stone, ’22, Maria Bontrager, ’22, and faculty team advisor Morgan Ollinger, OD, for a job well done.
A total of 34 SCO academic posters were presented. Two SCO residents/recent graduates, Alexis Williams Smith, OD ’21, and Casey Krug, OD ’21, joined SCO’s Chief of Low Vision, Karen Squier, OD, in a winning academic poster. Ocutech, a low vision device company, started a new program to fund travel to the Academy meeting for low vision researchers with the winners chosen on the basis of their academic poster submission.
Thanks to all our alumni who attended SCO’s first large-scale reception for alumni and friends. The Class of 2021 had the best attendance as they enjoyed a mini-reunion of sorts with more than two dozen of the recent graduates in attendance.
More photos from Academy:
SCO's Beta Sigma Kappa Optometric Honor Society has formally welcomed 60 new members. Yesterday evening, BSK’s officers held an induction ceremony and administered the organization’s oath.
Congratulations to the following new members:
After being delayed for a year and a half because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Class of 2020 celebrated with a formal commencement ceremony during Fall Homecoming and CE Weekend. Held on Saturday, October 2 at the Peabody Hotel, the ceremony saw nearly 100 graduates return in cap and gown for their deferred ceremony.
Dr. Lewis Reich, SCO President, noted in his address to the class that 25 percent of graduates had completed a residency, while 20 members of the class had married. In fact, several members of the class were in absentia as they attended the wedding of Haylee Taylor, OD ’20, on the same day.
Since receiving their diplomas by mail in May 2020, the class had welcomed four babies, with three on the way as of this year’s ceremony.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, who had been scheduled to speak to the class at its original ceremony, delivered short remarks by video. Class Vice President Cassandra Croy, OD ’20, and Class Secretary Hayley Vasilko, OD ’20, delivered class comments in which they celebrated the class’s historic distinction as the only optometry students to have graduated officially in the year 2020, a date with optometric significance.
In lieu of honorary degrees traditionally presented during commencement, alumni awards were bestowed on two outstanding individuals. Jon Reid, OD ’12, received the Young Alumni Award, while the late Jeff Foster, OD ’81, posthumously was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor awarded by the college.
Torrie Garner, OD ’20, was recognized as Class Salutatorian, followed by Callie Mashburn, OD ’20, being recognized as Class Valedictorian. A reception honoring the class followed the ceremony.
The ceremony was livestreamed and recorded:
Photo Gallery: click here for full gallery
SCO has maintained a zero percent default rate for the last 25 years as reported by the Department of Education.
The FY2018 student loan cohort default rates reveal that SCO graduates are successfully transitioning to optometric practice.
“This is great news,” said Cindy Garner, Director of Financial Aid. “Our graduates continue to have much success practicing optometry and doing what they least want to do, which is to repay their student loans.”
A cohort default rate represents the percentage of a college or university’s borrowers who have defaulted on their student loans.
“The cohort default rate is an important measure of a school’s overall quality. It reflects our success in preparing our students to practice optometry,” said Garner. “This is a great accomplishment and it reflects admirably on each member of the SCO family."
SCO’s Financial Aid Office actively works with students to provide them with strategies to manage their student indebtedness levels. From budgeting workshops to one-on-one sessions with a financial aid counselor, the college is committed to partnering with students to ensure their success in optometry. Student scholarships provided by SCO’s alumni and friends also play an important part in managing student debt levels.
Southern College of Optometry honored outstanding achievement by students, faculty, and staff at the college’s 35th annual Fall Awards Program on Wednesday, September 15. Award recipients were invited to receive their awards in person, with the program livestreamed and recorded for those who could not attend.
Because of the generosity of alumni, employees, ophthalmic partners, and other friends, the college presented students with more than $95,000 in scholarship and awards.
Inaugural awards included the Dr. Deborah Moy (’84) Theia VT/Low Vision Award and the Dr. Alicia Groce Scholarship in Neuro-Rehabilitation. Dr. Groce, who was recently diagnosed with ALS, was in attendance for the ceremony.
A program PDF is available here:
A video recording of the ceremony is available here:
2020-21 Faculty of the Year Awards
CLASS OF 2022
CLINICAL: Dr. David Hall
DIDACTIC: Dr. Stephen Wetick ’01
CLASS OF 2023
CLINICAL: Dr. Esla Speth ’10
DIDACTIC: Dr. Scott Ensor ’01
CLASS OF 2024
CLINICAL: Dr. Laurel Kelley ’18
DIDACTIC: Dr. John Mark Jackson ’99
BSK TEACHER OF THE YEAR AWARDS
Voted on by the faculty, the Burnett Faculty Recognition Award was awarded to Dr. Lindsay Elkins, ’07, in recognition of her leadership to assist faculty, especially during the pandemic’s challenges.
STUDENT AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
Basic Science and Clinical Science
1ST YEAR CLINICAL SCIENCE AWARDS (Plaque)
1ST YEAR BASIC SCIENCE AWARDS (Plaque)
2ND YEAR CLINICAL SCIENCE AWARDS (Plaque)
2ND YEAR BASIC SCIENCE AWARDS (Plaque)
3RD YEAR CLINICAL SKILLS AWARDS (Plaque)
Military Services Scholarships
U.S. AIR FORCE: Tanner Harsin ’24
U.S. ARMY: Karli Boober ’23
U.S. NAVY: Joshua Aldridge ’25
CLASSES OF ’54, ’56, ’59 SCHOLARSHIP: Abigail Klick ’22
CLASSES OF ’60, ’61, ’63 SCHOLARSHIP: Andrew B. Murphy ’24
CLASSES OF ’64, ’65, ’66 SCHOLARSHIP: Nicole Wohlfort ’23
CLASSES OF ’68, ’69 SCHOLARSHIP: Haley Bolden ’22
CLASSES OF ’70, ’71, ’74 SCHOLARSHIP: Gabrielle Gafford ’22 and Jacqueline Malish ’23
CLASS OF 1977 SCHOLARSHIP: Gabrielle Magee ’22
CLASS OF 1978 SCHOLARSHIP: Suzanne Falkowski ’22
CLASS OF 1983 SCHOLARSHIP: Nithya Vemula ’24
CLASS OF 1984 SCHOLARSHIP: Tori Pierce ’24
CLASS OF 1986 SCHOLARSHIP: Andrew Sweeter ’24
CLASS OF 1997 JIMMY SHERIDAN MEMORIAL AWARD: Lauren Olmstead ’23
CLASS OF 1999 SCHOLARSHIP: Holly Pederson ’22
CLASS OF 2001 SCOTT WHITAKER MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Richard Milner ’24 and Rachel Swearingen ’23
CLASS OF 2002 SCHOLARSHIP: Madyson Locke ’23
SHAUNA WITT, OD ’01 MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP: Sarah Thrower ’23
Alumni and Friends
ALUMNI COUNCIL ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP: Erin Mozingo ’22
CHUCK AND CAROLE ALDRIDGE ENDOWED AWARD: Lindsay Thornton ’22
DR. ALLAN AND MRS. SUSAN BARKER ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP: Salman Bhatti ’22
DRS. BERGER & MOSCOW FAMILY ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP: Katelyn Fleischman ’23
CHARLES A. CALLAWAY ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP: Julie Pan ’22, Onyale Donloe ’22, Andrew Barrows ’22
DR. FREDDY WILFRED CHANG ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP: Stephania Carreno ’22
JERRY L. CLAY ENDOWED AWARD: Macy Sparks ’22
DR. STAN DICKERSON LEADERSHIP AWARD: Mia Taylor ’22
DRS. DAVID AND CHERRY COCKRELL SCHOLARSHIP: Anna Britt ’23
DR. JOHN A. GAZAWAY ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP: Kamden Badger ’22
DR. ALICIA A. GROCE SCHOLARSHIP IN NEURO-REHABILITATION: Logan Lineberry ’22 and Christopher Frampton ’23
DR. CHARLES L. HAINE HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY ENDOWED AWARD: Tori Pierce ’24
DR. RICHARD L. HOPPING ENDOWED ETHICS AWARD: Edgar Judd ’23
DR. LES MANNING ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP: Seth Jones ’23
WILLIAM D. MCAFEE, OD ’51 ENDOWED AWARD: Ashlee Hobson ’22
MAULDIN FAMILY MEMORIAL ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP: Nathan Keyes ’22
DR. DEBORAH MOY THEIA VT/LOW VISION AWARD: Allison Wirt ’22
NATIONAL BOARD OF EXAMINERS (PART 1): Nathan Declue ’22
WAYNE W. PYEATT ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP: Braden Sorensen ’22
DR. MOHAMMAD RAFIEETARY ACADEMIC AND CLINICAL EXCELLENCE AWARD: Molly McNally ’23
DR. LEWIS REICH SCHOLARSHIP: Rachel Steele ’22
PEGGY REMKE MEMORIAL ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP: Ethan Gerstein ’23
ROSEMORE FAMILY ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP: Patrick Schultz ’24, Joanne Nguyen ’23, Rachel Slater ’22, Lauren Dole ’24
DR. JACK SCHAEFFER SCHOLARSHIP: Kendra Raths ’23
W. DAVID SULLINS ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP FOR LEADERSHIP: Melisa Kalac ’23
KANSAS ALUMNI ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP: Tracie Thibault ’24
State and Professional Associations
AUXILIARY TO THE ARKANSAS OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION: Nathan Baggett ’23
KENTUCKY OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION SCHOLARSHIPS: Amy Cox ’23
MISSISSIPPI OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION, HONORING DR. WILLIAM E. COCHRAN: Charla Darby ’23
DR. WILLIAM H. TOWNSEND SCHOLARSHIP: Nathan Baggett ’23
OPTOMETRY’S CARES – THE AOA FOUNDATION BERNARD MAITENAZ SCHOLARSHIP: Ellilta Mezgebu ’22
OPTOMETRY’S CARES – THE AOA FOUNDATION DR. LARRY J. ALEXANDER SCHOLARSHIP: Aaliyah Cole ’22
Corporate Partners and Ophthalmic Industry
HEINE USA AWARD: Weronika Przepiora ’24
KEELER INSTRUMENTS, INC. AWARD: Mallory Gilmer ’24
OCULAR INSTRUMENTS AWARD: Jacob Allan ’23, Micah Bullock ’22, Lindsey Tillery ’23, Paige Willett ’24
REVIEW OF OPTOMETRY AND THE RICK BAY FOUNDATION FOR EXCELLENCE IN EYECARE EDUCATION AWARD: Phaedra Lipsey ’23
J. PAT CUMMINGS SCHOLARSHIP: Michelle Yan ’23
VISION SERVICE PLAN SCHOLARSHIPS: Alexandra Turner ’22 and Michael Wagner ’22
WELCH ALLYN CO. AWARD: Spencer Robertson ’24
Photos from 35th annual Fall Awards Program, held on Wednesday, September 15, have been uploaded to SCO's Flickr stream. See them all at: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmWPAkhf