BOSTON—The board of trustees at New England College of Optometry (NECO) has announced its honorary degree recipient, two Presidential Medal awardees, and six valedictorians as part of its 130th commencement exercises to be held on May 19, 2024, at Boston’s Symphony Hall. Myopia expert and research leader Jane Gwiazda, Ph.D., is the honorary degree recipient. Marge Axelrad, editorial director emeritus of Vision Monday and VMAIL, and Marc Ferrara, executive consultant for Jobson Optical Group, will receive the Presidential Medal awards. The six valedictorians are Kaylee Brann, Sarah Curtin, Kylie Donahue, Bonnie Loh, Zach Turple and Zamaan Valani.

NECO will confer an honorary degree upon Dr. Gwiazda, who received her doctorate from Northeastern University and was a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist at MIT before joining the NECO faculty in 1995. Currently professor emerita at NECO, Dr. Gwiazda was the director of research and director of graduate studies, and has conducted research that focuses on risk factors and treatments for myopia. Dr. Gwiazda chaired the Correction of Myopia Evaluation Trial, a multi-site, 17-year study funded by the NEI/NIH, she was a member of the National Advisory Eye Council from 2014-2019, and she currently serves on the Data and Safety Monitoring Committee for the BLINK study.

 (L to R) Jane Gwiazda, Ph.D., Marge Axelrad and Marc Ferrara.
The Presidential Medal is awarded to eyecare professionals or professional groups who have made a unique impact on the College and its constituencies. This year, Axelrad and Ferrara will both receive the award. Axelrad served as senior vice president and editorial director of Vision Monday and VMAIL, part of Jobson Optical Group, from 1988 to March 2024, when she retired from her longtime role. Ferrara is the former CEO of Jobson Publishing’s Information Services division and now serves as executive consultant for Jobson Optical Group. In his former role, he had a wide range of responsibilities, including the publications 20/20, Vision Monday, Review of Optometry, US Pharmacist and Review of Ophthalmology, as well as the business units Frames Data, Jobson Research, Jobson Internet Solutions and Jobson’s international business in Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

Finally, NECO also celebrates an unprecedented achievement with six students achieving the title of “valedictorian” by maintaining a 4.0 grade point average throughout their four-year program. The 2024 valedictorians include: Kaylee Brann, Sarah Curtin, Kylie Donahue, Bonnie Loh, Zach Turple and Zamaan Valani.

NECO’s Commencement Exercises will begin at 10:00 a.m. at Symphony Hall in Boston on May 19. The ceremony will be livestreamed and may be viewed at