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A Message from SCO's President regarding executive order on immigration

Last Friday’s executive order suspending immigration from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen raised legitimate concerns for many members of the higher education community across the nation. SCO is working to identify and assist any of our students impacted by the travel ban by providing information and guidance to appropriate service agencies and other organizations. We are supportive of all our students no matter their country of origin.

As president, I share these concerns of students or employees impacted by this action. Like many colleges across the nation, members of the SCO family are impacted by these measures. We are coordinating with the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry as the ASCO schools collectively co-sign two letters to the President describing the challenges and hardships this ban creates for academic institutions, their students, and families.

One letter is from the Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions and the other one is through the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Additionally, the American Council of Education has also organized a joint letter of 46 different organizations sent to the President.

SCO advises nationals and their families born in the affected countries to avoid international travel until additional clarification is made about the situation. This includes citizens, nationals, passport holders, and dual nationals from the impacted countries.

In recent years, American optometry has made great advances in sharing our knowledge and expertise with healthcare professionals around the world. Together, the colleges and schools of optometry are populated by students, faculty, and staff from a wide range of backgrounds, similar to the vast array of the general public served as our patients.

SCO is committed to working with colleagues throughout the academic and healthcare communities to raise these concerns to policymakers. The college invites impacted students or employees to reach out to the administration for guidance or assistance with questions about immigration or travel-related issues.

As an institution committed to educating students without respect to their nationality or country of origin, and as healthcare provider to patients from all backgrounds, I want to stress that accessibility is one of the values that SCO will continue to advance and that SCO is open to all, no matter of your country of origin, the color of your religious beliefs, skin color, political leaning, gender, or sexual orientation. SCO appreciates the contributions of all who make up the SCO family.

Lewis Reich, O.D., Ph.D.
Southern College of Optometry

at Thursday, February 2, 2017 | 1 comments

SCO Board Appointments Announced

Southern College of Optometry recently welcomed two new members to the college’s Board of Trustees. Joining the board are former American Optometric Association President David Cockrell, OD ’81, and former SECO International President Stuart Thomas, OD ’84. Additionally, Board member Cristie Upshaw Travis was named Board Chair for a one-year term.

SCO Board Appointments Announced

About David A. Cockrell, OD ’81

Dr. David Cockrell completed his Bachelor’s degree in Zoology at Oklahoma State University and his Doctor of Optometry degree from SCO in 1981. He and his wife, Cherry Cockrell, OD ’81, opened their practice in Stillwater, Oklahoma, which became known as Cockrell Eyecare Center.

In addition to serving as AOA President, Dr. Cockrell is a Diplomate and Past Chairman of the American Board of Optometry. Since 1996, he has served as a member of the Oklahoma State Board of Examiners in Optometry and in all of the organization’s officer positions, including president. He is also a past president of the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians and the Southwest Council of Optometry.

A Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, he is a member of the American Public Health Association’s Vision Section.

A founding board member of Optometry Cares, he has received a number of awards at the local, regional, and national levels, including Heart of America’s OD of the Year award and an honorary degree from SCO.

About Stuart J. Thomas, OD ’84

Owner of Thomas Eye Center in Athens, Georgia, Dr. Thomas is a past chairman of the VSP Global Board of Directors. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Georgia in 1979. He went on to earn his Doctor of Optometry degree from the SCO in 1984, the same year he opened Thomas Eye Center.

He is a long-standing member of the AOA and the Georgia Optometric Association, serving in various leadership positions, including president. Dr. Thomas has also served as President of SECO, International, an organization that provides continuing education for optometrists and their staff.

One of the key initiatives Dr. Thomas has championed as chair of VSP is the inclusion of standalone vision plans such as VSP Vision Care in state health care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.  His wife, Sharon Thomas, OD ’83, is a research optometrist.

About Cristie Upshaw Travis, SCO Board Chair

Cristie Upshaw Travis has been Chief Executive Officer of the Memphis Business Group on Health since 1994. She earned her Master of Science degree in Health Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

She launched her career serving in health administrative and planning positions in Tupelo, Miss., and Tuscaloosa, Ala. She progressed to consulting with continuing care retirement communities, hospitals, and physicians with Ernst & Whinney in Memphis, Atlanta, Georgia, and Washington, D.C. She continued her rise in the health care arena as Vice President for a Washington, D.C.-based health care consulting firm.

Travis has served on several national boards and commissions. She is the past Chair of the Board of Governors for the National Business Coalition on Health. She served for two years as Chair of the Board of Directors for The Leapfrog Group. She joined the Consensus Standards Approval Committee for the National Quality Forum in 2012 and also serves on its Measures Application Partnership Hospital Workgroup. She serves on the NCQA Purchaser Advisory Committee, the National Commission on Prevention Priorities, and the National Transitions of Care Coalition.

She is former Chair of the Healthy Memphis Common Table; President of the Community Advisory Board for the University of Memphis Graduate Program in Health Administration; a member of the Deans Advisory Council for the University of Memphis School of Public Health; former President of the Board of Volunteer Midsouth; former Vice Chair of Lifeblood; former member of the National Technical Advisory Panel for the Midsouth eHealth Alliance, and a former officer of the Greater Memphis Employee Benefits Council. She also served as a subcommittee Chair on Shelby County Mayor A.C. Wharton's Blue Ribbon Panel on the Regional Medical Center at Memphis.

She represents Memphis and employers on several State of Tennessee committees including the Tennessee Health Information Committee, Health Information Partnership-Tennessee, and the State Health Plan Advisory Committee.

at Wednesday, February 1, 2017 | 0 comments

New Student Ambassadors Selected from the Class of 2020

Ten members of the Class of 2020 have been selected as Southern College of Optometry's newest student ambassadors.

Student ambassadors assist in student recruitment, admissions, and public relations functions of the college. They are selected each spring from the current first-year class on the basis of academic performance, nominations by faculty and staff, and personal interviews.

Below is a full list noting each ambassador's home state and undergraduate school:

Class of 2020 Student Ambassadors

Conner Kapperman (TN/Samford University)
Vishal Patel (GA/Georgia State University)
Kyle Craw (NE/University of Nebraska)
Jhaleil Phillips (GA/University of Georgia)
Alex Perry (CA/Oregon Institute of Technology)
Melissa Pongratz (TX/Oklahoma State University)
Hannah Williams (WV/Shepherd University)
Kira Winston (GA/University of Georgia)
Stephanie Ross (FL/University of Central Florida)
Samantha Macchio (NC/Ursinus College)

Congratulations to each of these students!

at Wednesday, February 1, 2017 | 0 comments

2016 Convocation Ceremony Honors Achievement

Southern College of Optometry's 2016 Convocation ceremony recognized the achievements of students, alumni, faculty, and staff with several awards and recognition presented. Of special note, the Class of 2020 gathered for its official white coat group portrait.


Receiving SCO's Lifetime Achievement Award - the highest honor bestowed by the college - was Joel Zaba, OD '69, FAAO. Dr. Zaba was honored for his extensive research, publications, and efforts to help establish the connections between learning and vision.


Members of SCO's Class of 1966 were also recognized as they returned for their 50-year reunion during Fall Homecoming and Continuing Education Weekend. Each attendee was presented a 50-year commemorative diploma.


Scholarships and other awards were presented to attendees from throughout the SCO campus community. Many of SCO's student awards and scholarships were made possible by the generosity of the college's alumni and friends who support the Annual Campaign and Endowed Scholarship funds.


Among those recognized:

Military Service Scholarships

  • Nathan Dederman, '18, Stephen Tipton, '17, Jessica Ward, '18

Basic Science and Clinical Awards

  • 1ST YEAR BASIC SCIENCE AWARDS: Brian Chado ’19, Jae DeBerry ’19, Blair Flint ’19, Jed Harrison ’19, Courtney Hegener ’19, Jon Hoaglund ’19, Jessica Jankiewicz ’19, Larissa Krenk ’19, Brittany Smith ’19, Kelly Trapp ’19
  • 1ST YEAR CLINICAL SCIENCE AWARDS: Christianne Belair ’19, Sydney Cooper ’19, Jae DeBerry ’19, Victoria Howard ’19, Jessica Jankiewicz ’19, Kelly Reed ’19, Nick Risbrudt ’19, Brittany Smith ’19, Jennifer Stewart ’19, Kelsey Teneycke ’19
  • 2ND YEAR BASIC SCIENCE AWARDS: Ethan Adkins ’18, Kristen Davis ’18, Elizabeth Fahy ’18, Kendra Fink ’18, AJ McCleary ’18, Corey Ommen ’18, Luke Robin ’18, Slater Smith ’18, Alex Soliz ’18, Kelsey White ’18
  • 2ND YEAR CLINICAL SCIENCE AWARDS: Melinda Dang ’18, Marcus Daniel ’18, Kendra Fink ’18, Danny Garcia ’18, Morgan Kickliter ’18, Dalton Miller ’18, Austin Pace ’18, Luke Robin ’18, Alex Soliz ’18, Victoria Stewart ’18
  • 3RD YEAR CLINICAL SKILLS AWARDS: Kevin Ader ’17, Emily Eisenhower ’17, David Haba ’17, Derek Hennig ’17, Erin Keim ’17, Matt Page ’17, Clinton Prestwich ’17, Bradley Richlin ’17, Kayla Smith ’17, Sandy Trybus ’17

Class Scholarships

The following Endowed Class Scholarships recognized outstanding leadership and professionalism by members of the Classes of 2017, 2018 and 2019.

  • CLASSES OF ’54, ’56, ’59 SCHOLARSHIP ($1,000): Chelci Schade ’18
  • CLASSES OF ’60, ’61, ’63 SCHOLARSHIP ($1,500): Blair Flint ’19
  • CLASSES OF ’64, ’65, ’66 SCHOLARSHIP ($1,500): Liz Perch ’18
  • CLASSES OF ’67, ’68, ’69 SCHOLARSHIP ($1,000): Lauren Rigsby ’17, Shay Sechler ’17
  • CLASSES OF ’70, ’71, ’74 SCHOLARSHIP ($1,000): Taylor Chesnut ’17, Lauren Sharp ’17
  • CLASS OF 1977 SCHOLARSHIP ($3,000): Shelby Rogers ’18
  • CLASS OF 1978 SCHOLARSHIP ($2,000): Ethan Adkins ’18
  • CLASS OF 1984 SCHOLARSHIP ($1,500): Ben Taylor ’19
  • CLASS OF 1997 JIMMY SHERIDAN MEMORIAL AWARD ($1,000): Brad Schuster ’18
  • CLASS OF 2001 SCOTT WHITAKER MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP ($1,000): Kalah Burchfield ‘18

Alumni and Friends Scholarships

SCO alumni and friends generously support and recognize academic accomplishments and leadership within the student body. As such, the following endowed scholarships and awards have been established in support of SCO students.

  • ROSEMORE FAMILY ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP ($2,000): Joe Johnson ’18, Andrew Smith ’17,Sara Petska ’17
  • NATIONAL BOARD OF EXAMINERS IN OPTOMETRY AWARD, PART I ($1,000): Kevin Rice ’17, Celia Baker ’17
  • MAULDIN FAMILY SCHOLARSHIP ($1,000): Matt Walker ’17
  • WAYNE W. PYEATT ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP ($2,000): Zach Baumfalk ’17
  • DR. JOHN A. GAZAWAY ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP ($1,000): Tyler Lefeber ’17
  • KANSAS ALUMNI ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP  ($1,000): Alyssa Louia ’18
  • FRED FARIAS, III, OD ’87, FAAO ENDOWED AWARD ($1,000): Ibrahim Qattan ’17
  • JERRY L. CLAY ENDOWED AWARD ($1,000): Alex Soliz ’18
  • DON E. WILLIAMSON MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP ($3,000): Roxanne Senechal ’17
  • JAMES AND EDNA DUNCAN AWARD ($500): Haley Kincannon ’18
  • VINCENT SALIERNO SCHOLARSHIP ($2,000): Sarah Vrotsos ’17

State and Professional Associations

  •  KENTUCKY OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION SCHOLARSHIPS ($1,000): Caroline Seger ’19, Sarai Wethington ’19

Corporate Partners and Ophthalmic Industry

  • J. PAT CUMMINGS SCHOLARSHIP ($1,000): Mary Nethaway ’18
  • VISION SERVICE PLAN SCHOLARSHIPS ($4,000): Tyler Boone ’17, Ben Roach ’17
  • OCULAR INSTRUMENTS AWARD (Product Certificate), Meagan Williams ’17, Ryan Piche ’18, Brittany Glatting ’19
  • WELCH ALLYN CO. AWARD (Panoptic Ophthalmoscope and Lithium Icon Handle): Rachel Sossaman ’18
  • HEINE USA AWARD (Hand-held Slit Lamp): Whitney Watson ’17
  • KEELER INSTRUMENTS AWARD (Streak Retinoscope and Mini Charger): Jordan Hamric ’17

2015-16 Faculty of the Year


  • Didactic: Chris Borgman, OD
  • Clinic: Patricia Cisarik, OD, PHD

Class of 2018

  • Didactic: Scott Ensor, OD
  • Clinic: Jennifer Sanderson, OD


  • Didactic: John Mark Jackson, OD, MS
  • Clinic: Amanda Tompkins, OD


  • Didactic: Jennifer Snyder, OD
  • Clinic: Scott Ensor, OD

Other Awards

  • Drs. Charlene and Fred Burnett Outstanding Faculty Award: Wil McGriff, OD
  • President's Recognition Award, Faculty: Carrie Lebowitz, OD
  • President's Recognition Award, Staff: Gail Killingsworth, OD

View photos from the event in SCO's photo galleries.





Posted by Jim Hollifield at Wednesday, September 21, 2016 | 0 comments

White Coat Ceremony Welcomes Class of 2020

Southern College of Optometry formally welcomed the Class of 2020 into the profession of optometry with a white coat ceremony on Monday, August 29. More than 500 family, friends, and faculty members were on hand to witness each student receive his or her white coat (generously provided by Marchon) and sign SCO's honor code.

Officiating were Dr. Lewis Reich, SCO President, Dr. J. Bart Campbell, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. James Venable, Vice President for Clinical Programs, Joe Hauser, Vice President for Student Services, and Mary Nethaway Chase, '18, Student Government Association President.

The Class of 2020 includes 136 students who were selected from 877 applicants. The class recorded an average grade point average of 3.53 and an average 328 score on the Optometry Admissions Test (OAT). Their addition to the SCO student body brings SCO's number of full-time students to 531, the most since 1982.

During the ceremony, 33 students were recognized for receiving scholarships, including:

  • Christy Alfano, of Orlando, Florida, who received the Stern-Maronek Family Endowed Scholarship
  • A.J. Barbiero, of Salt Lake City, Utah, who received the Presidential Endowed Scholarship
  • Leslie Cline, of Bowling Green, Kentucky, who received the Dr. Cheryl Johnson Memorial Endowed Scholarship
  • Jordan Dravitzki, of Stromsburg, Nebraska, who received the Board of Trustees - Thomas Gulley Scholarship
  • Jared Freeman, of Plantation, Florida, who received the Dean's Endowed Scholarship
  • Anna Fuller, of Ruston, Louisiana, who received the New Orleans Contact Lens Society Endowed Scholarship
  • Torrie Garner, of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, who received the Board of Trustees - Donna Abney Scholarship
  • Kelci Glover, of Wichita, Kansas, who received the Presidential Endowed Scholarship
  • Katie Hardy, of Sedalia, Missouri, who received the Dr. William R. Jackson, Jr. Memorial Endowed Scholarship
  • Alyssa Invergo, of Peotone, Illinois, who received the Board of Trustees - Linda Johnson Scholarship
  • Cori Jones, of Cheney, Kansas, who received the Dean's Endowed Scholarship
  • Kate Keefer, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, who received the Alston & Byrd Endowed Scholarship
  • Callie Mashburn, of Sweetwater, Tennessee, who received the Sullins Family Endowed Scholarship
  • Destiny McDuffie, of Winterville, North Carolina, who received the SCO Alumni Endowed Scholarship
  • Matt Meredith, of Louisville, Kentucky, Dr. Ramona Porter Clifton Endowed Scholarship
  • Alison Moore, of Memphis, Tennessee, who received the Drs. Charlene & Fred Burnett Endowed Scholarship
  • Madelyn Mullally, of Le Mars, Iowa, who received the Covington/Andreas Endowed Scholarship
  • Erin Neal, of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, who received the Dr. Vaughn Parfitt Endowed Scholarship
  • Rachel Newland, of Parsons, Kansas, who received the Drs. Helen and Christopher King Endowed Scholarship
  • Jhaleil Phillips, of McDonough, Georgia, who received the Board of Trustees - Linda Johnson Scholarship
  • Melissa Pongratz, of Fort Worth, Texas, who received the Board of Trustees - Thomas Gulley Scholarship
  • Brian Post, of Tallahassee, Florida, who received the Dr. William E. Cochran Endowed Scholarship
  • Kristen Purdy, of Solon, Iowa, who received the Dean's Endowed Scholarship
  • Stephanie Ross, of Nokomis, Florida, who received the Dr. Earl Lusk Endowed Scholarship
  • Michaela Sasse, of Gaylord, Kansas, who received the Board of Trustees - Martha Morrow Scholarship
  • Emily Scully, of Batavia, Illinois, who received the SCO Alumni Endowed Scholarship
  • Trevor Shealy, of Cordele, Georgia, who received the Dr. L. Wayne Brown Memorial Endowed Scholarship
  • Jacob Smith, of Athens, Alabama, who received the Dean's Endowed Scholarship
  • Katie Stuckey, of Ruston, Louisiana, who received the Dr. Camille Chiasson Endowed Scholarship
  • Al'Tiana Watson, of Savannah, Georgia, who received the Dr. Joel T. Byars Endowed Scholarship
  • Jake Weber, of Milford, Nebraska, who received the Presidential Endowed Scholarship
  • Rachel Werner, of Maple Valley, Washington, who received the Precisions Endowed Scholarship
  • Annie Wester, of Cleghorn, Iowa, who received the Presidential Endowed Scholarship.

Scholarship recipients:  Destiny McDuffie, Brian Post, A.J. Barbiero Alison Moore, Kate Keefer, Jhaleil Phillips, Trevor Shealy Rachel Newland, Madelyn Mullally, Jared Freedman Cori Jones, Al’Tiana Watson, Katie Hardy
Scholarship recipients: 
Destiny McDuffie, Brian Post, A.J. Barbiero
Alison Moore, Kate Keefer, Jhaleil Phillips, Trevor Shealy
Rachel Newland, Madelyn Mullally, Jared Freedman
Cori Jones, Al’Tiana Watson, Katie Hard

Scholarship recipients: Jacob Smith, Jake Weber, Katie Stuckey Callie Mashburn, Melissa Pongratz, Michaela Sasse, Emily Scully Kelci Glover, Erin Neal, Alyssa Invergo, Kristen Purdy
Scholarship recipients:
Jacob Smith, Jake Weber, Katie Stuckey
Callie Mashburn, Melissa Pongratz, Michaela Sasse, Emily Scully
Kelci Glover, Erin Neal, Alyssa Invergo, Kristen Purdy


Scholarship recipients: Matt Meredith, Torrie Garner, Jordan Dravitzki Annie Wester, Leslie Cline, Stephanie Ross, Christy Alfano Rachel Werner, Anna Fuller
Scholarship recipients:
Matt Meredith, Torrie Garner, Jordan Dravitzki
Annie Wester, Leslie Cline, Stephanie Ross, Christy Alfano
Rachel Werner, Anna Fuller


A video recording of the ceremony may be viewed via SCO's YouTube channel:

View photo gallery coverage of the ceremony and post-reception.

at Wednesday, August 31, 2016 | 0 comments