Midwestern University - Arizona College of Optometry
Glendale, Ariz.

Arizona College of Optometry (AZCOPT) of Midwestern University celebrated its first optometry graduates this year. While at Midwestern, Erika Anderson, OD, a native of Wyndmere, N.D., served as class vice president and twice received the Dr. and Mrs. Jarnagin scholarship. She also received the AOSA National Trustee of the Year award, the Hoya Student Grant Award, the Alcon 4th Year Case Report Award, a Walman Optical Scholarship, a Wal-Mart Scholarship as well as the Midwestern University Spirit of Service Award. She is a BSK Silver Medal Receipient, and valedictorian for the Inaugural Class of 2013.

HER SCHOOL SAYS… “After graduation, Dr. Anderson will do a residency at Chinle Indian Health Services in Chinle, Ariz.”

Southern California College of Optometry
Fullerton, Calif.

“I started college as a pre-pharmacy major, but realized that I wanted more interaction with people. My sister was an optometry student at SCCO and she thought I would enjoy optometry,” said Mallori Aschenbrenner, OD.

At SCCO, Aschenbrenner served as the student liaison to the American Academy of Optometry. She also received the Dr. Lesley Walls Valedictorian Award, and the Norman E. Wallis Award for Excellence for her scores on the National Board examination in 2012.

“Being active in student organizations gave me insight into important aspects of optometry,” she noted.

Aschenbrenner joins her sister Lindsay Loock in a private practice, Loock Perfect Image Eyecare, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. She is interested in fitting specialty contact lenses and exploring surgical co-management.

HER SCHOOL SAYS… “Mallori demonstrated good leadership skills as a student and conducts herself in a very professional way with her colleagues and patients.”

Pennsylvania College of Optometry
at Salus University
Elkins Park, Penn.

Shana Barrett, OD, who grew up and did her undergrad work at University of Scranton, originally applied and got into medical school— but she decided not to go. She said she considered research and worked at the University of Pennsylvania in a virology research lab on vaccines but after talking with her optometrist, she decided to pursue that profession.

Shadowing several ODs, she also met her fiancé (they plan to be married this fall). Barrett loves the medical/disease aspects of optometry and enjoys the connections her clinical work brings her with patients. Her goal is to develop her own private practice. As president of the Class of 2013, she served as an inaugural member of the PCO Dean’s Student Advisory Board. As a first year student, Barrett took the initiative of attending the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Optometry (AAO)—the only first year from PCO to do so. Barrett subsequently served as PCO’s student liaison for the Academy. Her school points out that she also displayed “above-and-beyond care for students” by instituting a student mentorship program for the incoming class of 2014. Barrett also served as PCO’s representative to the SECO Student Advisory Board.

“Dr. Barrett is enthusiastic, energetic and committed to the profession of optometry. We look forward to her continued contributions and involvement in the years ahead.”

Illinois College of Optometry
Chicago, Ill.

Nick Blasco, OD was greatly affected by his switch from glasses to contacts at a young age. “I was lucky enough to have an optometrist as a father who decided I was mature enough,” said Blasco. “That change had a dramatic impact on me.”

He later developed his affinity for the optometric field while working at his father’s practice.

“I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with the patients, and saw first-hand how optometrists are able to better the lives of each patient they encounter,” he said.

Blasco became ICO’s Student Association president, a student representative on the Board of Trustees and Alumni Council and received various awards and scholarships. He will be completing a one-year residency program in ocular disease at the Baltimore VA Medical Center.

HIS SCHOOL SAYS… “Nick is one to watch! I look forward to seeing his future successes and contributions to the profession.”

SUNY College of Optometry
New York, N.Y.

Volunteer work, shadowing, and academia helped Antonio Chirumbolo, OD, realize both what he didn’t want to do…and what he did want to do: optometry. He said the profession appealed to him primarily because of the relationships it allows with patients, but he was also drawn to the career paths and possibilities it afforded.

Chirumbolo says he chose SUNY based upon its impressive board passing rates, strong academic and clinical experience, and its group of impressive faculty and clinicians. A four-year member of the Beta Sigma Kappa Optometric Honor Society and a senior member of the core leadership team and business and finance journalists for OptometryStudents.com, Chirumbolo plans to move back home to Pittsburgh where he hopes to join an established practice “to provide quality care and continue to learn in a field that is continuously expanding and advancing.”

HIS SCHOOL SAYS… “In addition to his other activities, Antonio is also a head tutor for academics and clinical skills in optometry.”

University of Missouri St. Louis Collegeof Optometry
St. Louis, Mo.

Brigette Colley, OD had a love of optometry that started in high school when she had to give a career speech. Also, her choir director had retinitis pigmentosa. “I love the instant gratification people with poor vision get when they are properly fitted with glasses or CLs,” she said.

Colley graduated summa cum laude at optometry school, and has been in leadership positions at UMSL, including VP of the Student Volunteers of Optometric Services to Humanity, and president of the Class of 2013 chapter of Gold Key International Optometric Honor Society.

Colley is joining the practice of UMSL alumnus, Tim Bengtson, OD, in Macomb, Ill. She is looking forward to working with pediatric patients there.

HER SCHOOL SAYS… “She co-founded a pre-optometry club as a freshman. Thanks to her efforts we have more students from Truman State in our College than from any other institution.”

University of the Incarnate Word
– Rosenberg School of Optometry
San Antonio, Texas

Born in Mexico, Jose Correa, OD grew up in Houston, first getting his associates degree and then a Bachelor’s in biology from the University of Houston. While he originally considered the field of clinical genetics, he met a retired OD who enlightened him about the optometric profession and he shadowed other doctors in his local town, learning more about the new school getting started in San Antonio.

Correa volunteered at a low vision center and started a Low Vision Club at the school, becoming president of that group. But, Correa says he fell in love with the ocular disease and medical optometry track. He now has a position with Jason Prescott, OD, a friend and mentor with a primary care practice in Leander, Texas, northeast of Austin, where he will work two years, doing the medical optometry which he loves and having the opportunity to learn more about all aspects of practice.

“Eventually I hope to have my own practice, and target the Hispanic population,” he said.

HIS SCHOOL SAYS… “Our faculty committee has selected Jose Correa, OD as our best in class.”

Southern College of Optometry
Memphis, Tenn.

“Optometry chose me,” Ashley Gentrup, OD, told VM. “My parents noticed an eye turn when I was four months old, and took me to an ophthalmologist regularly. From a young age, I wanted to be a doctor.” While at the University of Nebraska, she worked as an optician.

Gentrup helped organize InfantSEE promotional events at SCO to promote regular eyecare for children. Gentrup also received SCO’s leading student research award, and the Designs for Vision William Feinbloom Low Vision Award.

Gentrup is starting a Pediatrics and Vision Therapy Residency at Bowersox Vision Center in Shelbyville, Ky., and she would like to be in a private practice someday.

HER SCHOOL SAYS… “Ashley promoted the InfantSEE program with a kick-off presentation at SCO. Her personal endorsement to a group of faculty and staff members encouraged support for the program and led to greater awareness about it.”

Western University College of Optometry
Pomona, Calif.

“I chose optometry because my best friend was an optometrist—my father,” said Katherine Gillett, OD. “When I was a kid, my dad would come home happy. He was always there.”

Gillett, who later became president of her school’s Student Government Association, was also driven by the need for specialty eyecare in her agricultural area.

“A lot of [farm workers] don’t care about their health because their focus is on working. [As a result], their children have that habit. I want to give children the sight they need so they have other options.”

Gillett will work in her father’s practice in Porterville, Calif., until beginning a residency in low vision rehabilitation at the VA hospital in Long Beach.

HER SCHOOL SAYS… “Katherine possesses a passion to share her time and talents with others. She will be a leader of the profession.”

InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico School of Optometry
Bayamon, P.R.

Colin Grant, OD, developed his interest in optometry at a very early age, for a very personal reason—his mother’s retinitis pigmentosa. During his undergrad stint at Cal State University in Los Angeles, Grant did an internship at Boxer Wachler Vision Institute, an ophthalmology practice, in Beverly Hills, Calif., and was published in three journals during his time there.

After graduation, he worked full time with Dr. Peter Cornell in Beverly Hills as a certified ophthalmic assistant. While attending InterAmerican University in Puerto Rico, Grant learned to speak Spanish fluently, and was also exposed to a great amount of ocular pathology via his work there in local communities. He was president of the Student Council and class president for one year, winning several awards for leadership as well. Following graduation, Grant plans to focus on ocular disease in a private practice setting in either Los Angeles or South Florida.

HIS SCHOOL SAYS… “Colin demonstrates high qualities of a leader. We are proud of his outstanding work and excellence in all duties: academics, institutional, community, humanitarian and leadership.”

Ferris State University Michigan College of Optometry

Alana Herron, OD first became interested in optometry after being matched with the profession by a career personality test in high school. She said, “I was interested in a career as a health professional. When I researched optometry and shadowed ODs, they had so many great things to say about the profession.”

At MCO, Herron was her class representative for four years, was the Michigan Student Private Practice Association Secretary for two years and the Michigan Optometric Student Association Treasurer for one year. She was the MCO Best in the Class of 2013.

Herron has found a position in a private practice where she can see a wide variety of patients.

HER SCHOOL SAYS… “Alana was a key figure in developing our new MCO Student Honor Code. Alana was handpicked as a Student Ambassador for the admissions program.”

Nova Southeastern University
– College of Optometry
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Anthony Blake Hutto, OD, known as “Blake,” grew up in the small town of Alma, Ga. Hutto recalls that he grew up needing glasses and the father-son practice that he visited there had a tremendous impact on his life. “They were instrumental in talking me through optometry as a profession, instilled that interest in me, and helped me see it as a viable option.”

Hutto did undergraduate work in biology and completed a degree in nursing before attending optometry school. At Nova Southeastern, he was a member of Beta Sigma Kappa, involved in the Gold Key International Society and became class president, as well as becoming involved in the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists.

Today, Hutto is back in Alma— and is practicing as a partner with the son of that father-son practice, Dr. Jim McQuaig, Family Vision Care. “My wife and I are excited to be here to serve our local community.”

HIS SCHOOL SAYS… “Serving as the class president in optometry school, he brought maturity and leadership to his graduating class.”

New England College of Optometry
Boston, Mass.

Nicholas Alexander Jones, OD, a Portsmouth, N.H. native, received an Air Force scholarship to attend the New England College of Optometry. But his last year at the school proved unusually challenging, to put it mildly. Jones was involved in a severe, almost-fatal, snowboarding accident in January 2012 and was immediately airlifted to a hospital. He had suffered multiple injuries and, at times, the prognosis was grim.

With the support of his family and fellow classmates, Jones beat all the odds and recovered completely, in a much shorter time than predicted, maintaining his GPA and his scholarship. He completed all of his missed coursework and passed his national board exams. Jones will move to active duty as an Air Force captain.

HIS SCHOOL SAYS… “Dr. Jones remains an inspiration to all of the New England College of Optometry community for his determination, courage, and commitment to return to health. We are all grateful and thankful for his recovery and wish him well as he enters a military career.”

Northeastern State University of Oklahoma – College of Optometry
Tahlequah, Okla.

Megan Kirkpatrick, OD said she grew up as an extreme myope and has seen an eye doctor since before kindergarten. Her mother also suffered from nystagmus, a hard to control, twitching of the eyes, “and watching how she made it through that, has always intrigued me and made me want to learn more. I’ve always known what I wanted to do.”

An undergraduate at Oklahoma State University, studying cellular and molecular biology, she then pursued optometry school. Kirkpatrick most enjoyed the service work she was able to do there, first participating on a mission and then, as Student VOSH president, she raised funds for the 2011 Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (SVOSH) Trip to Roatan, Honduras.

Just before graduation Megan was selected by the clinical faculty as the most outstanding clinician and received NSUOCO’s Gold Retinoscope Award. Now, she is doing a pediatric and vision therapy residency in Wichita, Kan. at Child & Family Eye Care, with Dr. Pat Pirotte. Kirkpatrick would like to pursue opening or joining a practice where she can continue her work in vision therapy.

HER SCHOOL SAYS… “She has been a standout since first year and is knowledgeable, well-prepared, competent in her skills and personable.”

UC Berkeley - School of Optometry
Berkeley, Calif.

After working in finance for five years, Andrew Mangum, OD knew his degree in business was destined for a different path.

“I was not happy with the work I was doing, so I decided to make a change,” Mangum said. His father is an optician and mother a registered nurse, so eyecare was a natural a fit. “Optometry had all of the characteristics I was looking for in a profession.”

At UC Berkeley, Mangum became a member of Beta Sigma Kappa, received the Gold Retinoscope Award and is preparing for a residency program in primary care and ocular disease at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. “I see myself practicing in a challenging clinical setting. ”

HIS SCHOOL SAYS… “Andrew epitomizes what a caregiver should be and we optometrists are fortunate to count him among our ranks.”

Ohio State University College of Optometry
Columbus, Ohio

Justin Manning, OD, was recently awarded the 2013 Graduate of the Year Award at Ohio State University College of Optometry. In the classroom he displayed an innate ability to translate his knowledge from the classroom to clinic. He also received the AOF Award of Excellence and the Optometric Physicians of Washington Student of the Year.

In 2012, Manning was part of an SVOSH mission to rural, remote villages in Bolivia. In the town of Llica, the students and doctors, according to Manning, close to 300 patients in two days. “The opportunity to bring sight to those who have little to no access to such care is nothing short of a blessing.”

HIS SCHOOL SAYS… “Justin displays a work ethic and professionalism that is beyond exemplary. He is a shining example of a contemporary OD.”

Indiana University School of Optometry
Bloomington, Ind.

“I was wearing glasses since fifth grade. I’ve always been interested in optometry,” said JulieAnne Roper, OD. “An anatomy class in high school got me even more interested in the eye. With optometry I could look at systemic diseases from the eye and help the person as a whole.”

Roper graduated with an optometry degree along with an MS in vision science. She was a member of Gold Key National Honor Society and Beta Sigma Kappa, and served as President of the IU Optometric Student Association.

She received several awards and an endowed scholarship based on her clinical paper on senior research. Roper will be doing a residency this year at the Dorn VA hospital in South Carolina, in primary care.

HER SCHOOL SAYS… “Always enthusiastic, a leader, and now a great optometrist.”