Melanie Akau, OD

Berkeley Optometry, University of California

Berkeley, Calif.

A part Hawaiian, New Mexico native who attended undergrad in Austin, Texas, Melanie Akau, OD is a student who is ready for anything. She graduated with several awards, including honors for her published research project, The Mechanism of Word Crowding, the Alcon Primary Care Award, and most notably, the Gold Retinoscope Award. She attributes her success to “being unique and being able to offer something a little bit extra,” and certainly has proven to do so.

This summer, it’s off to Boston’s West Roxbury VA for an ocular disease and primary care residency, where Akau hopes to continue learning and getting a feel for the business. “Mainly, I just want to continue to be challenged.”

HER SCHOOL SAYS… “Melanie is the 2012 recipient the of Gold Retinoscope award. Given each year to the outstanding member of the class, it is considered the highest honor Berkeley Optometry awards to a graduating student.”

David Glabe, OD
Pacific University College of Optometry
Forest Grove, Ore.

After graduating Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah with a degree in biology and minor in business administration, David Glabe, OD decided to follow his dream to give people something he had been given as a child—better eyesight. He pursued this passion at the Pacific University College of Optometry in Forest Grove, Ore.

Glabe describes his early experience with optometry as “remarkable”—after growing up with a high refractive error, a visit to the OD substantially changed his life. “I can vividly remember the first time I had a new pair of glasses placed on me, and I could see things I had never seen before,” Glabe said.

He plans to complete a residency at the Kansas City VA Medical Center, followed by an active pursuit to join a private practice. He hopes to be involved in clinical research and product development, focusing on ocular disease, low vision and CLs.

HIS SCHOOL SAYS… “David made an immediate positive impression on us. He hit the ground running.”

Jonathon Jimmerson, OD
New England College of Optometry
Boston, Mass.

Working in optical venues on and off throughout high school and college, Jonathon Jimmerson, OD knew optometry was his calling. Before studying at NECO, the now OD was an optical assistant at Urban Eye and an optometric technician in a commercial practice in Tampa, Fla. While taking a year to work between undergraduate and graduate school, his path formalized. “I thought, this is where I should be,” he said.

He has received personal awards from his school for his leadership and exceptional potential. One of these, the Dr. Hyman Kamens Achievement Award, highlights his “honesty, integrity, leadership and commitment to serving others in the field of optometry.” His expertise will lead him to a primary care in geriatrics residency at the Bedford VA just outside of Boston, where he hopes to serve another population of those in need of visual care.

HIS SCHOOL SAYS… “Dr. Jimmerson is an extremely dedicated leader, working hard to identify and resolve issues by bringing various community members together.”

Jenna Liechty, OD

Indiana University School of Optometry
Bloomington, Ind.

As a student, Jenna Liechty, OD was grounded in academic ability and service to the public. A member of the American Optometric Association Political Action Committee (AOAPAC), Liechty has attended the AOAPAC conference in Washington, DC every year as an optometry student. She has devoted considerable time lending her optical knowledge to her community, participating in vision screenings for the Special Olympics and the VA Junior Olympics. She hopes to continue this service as an OD. Liechty has also received the National Varilux Student Grant Award, the COVD (College of Optometrists and Vision Development) Award for Excellence in Vision Therapy, and is co-recipient of the David Kolack Fellowship.

Graduating second in her class, Liechty is moving to Memphis, Tenn. where she plans to begin a residency in pediatrics and vision therapy at the Southern College of Optometry. After her residency, Liechty hopes to open her own practice someday with her twin sister. They cleverly plan to call their practice “Double Vision Optometry.”

HER SCHOOL SAYS…”She’s an impressive young lady who has a bright future ahead of her!” 

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

Already armed with work experience and clinical knowledge in the optical industry, Ian McWherter, OD is a prime example of a diligent student who knows what he wants and gets it. His involvement in scholarly organizations and his list of recognitions are impressive—from participating in the Lions Club to attaining membership in the Gold Key Honors Society to winning first place in the Varilux Optometry Student Bowl, it’s no wonder PCO regards this OD as their best in class.

The future holds promise for McWherter, who will begin an ocular disease residency this summer at Bennett and Bloom Eye Centers in Louisville, Ky. There he plans to utilize the expanded scope of practice recently introduced in the state, which allows optometrists to operate anterior segment lasers and conduct minor surgical procedures.

HIS SCHOOL SAYS… “We have seen him develop into an excellent student and clinician who is not only extremely competent but who also understands the importance of leadership and active involvement in our profession.”

Erik Mothersbaugh, OD
Illinois College of Optometry
Chicago, Ill.

With a track record in scholarships, honors and awards, it’s no surprise that the Illinois College of Optometry chose Erik Mothersbaugh, OD as their best graduating student. Consistently recognized for his leadership and service to his school, and to the optometric community, his honors include the Faculty Scholarship, ICO Alumni Association Scholarship, and multiple inclusions on the Dean’s List. While in pursuit of this advancement, he has garnered the respect of the ICO Board of Trustees, as well as his fellow classmates, who even elected him as Colleague of the Year. Though singled out on numerous occasions for his accomplishments, he attributes much of his success to his fellow students. “I had a good team around me,” he said. “In our class, we had a lot of hardworking people.”

He will begin his post-doctoral residency at ICO in primary care and ocular disease. “I’m not leaving yet,” he said.

  HIS SCHOOL SAYS… “Dr. Mothersbaugh has an exceptional intellect…he is naturally curious and thinks deeply about important matters.”

Joanna Wen, OD
SUNY College of Optometry
New York, N.Y.

After shadowing an OD for a high school project, Joanna Wen’s curiosity in optometry was planted. This curiosity grew and eventually culminated at the SUNY College of Optometry, where she not only studied the curriculum, but showed an exceptional passion for the field.

While attending school, Wen took advantage of unique volunteer opportunities. Most notable is the Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity (VOSH) mission trip to Beirut, Lebanon. Wen was the only student to accompany four doctors to a refugee camp to administer eye exams, dispense glasses, and give medication to visually impaired members of the camp. Additionally, she participated in local causes such as giving general screenings at elementary schools in New York.

After graduation, her focus in pediatrics and vision therapy will lead Wen to a private practice in Manassas, Va., where she has already spent time observing the group and is sure to make a positive impact.

HER SCHOOL SAYS… “Wen achieved excellence in academic and clinical performance, ranking the highest GPA in her class. As a volunteer, she provided patient care to the underserved. She exemplifies the best and brightest SUNY has to offer.”