Makayla Warden.

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.—VSP Vision named optometry student Makayla Warden from Kentucky College of Optometry as the winner of the first-ever VSP Premier Program Student Business Challenge. The scholarship opportunity, announced earlier this year, was created by the VSP Vision Premier Program in collaboration with the Association of Practice Management Educators (APME) and Student Optometric Leadership Network (SOLN) to support optometry students interested in a path to private practice ownership, according to VSP’s announcement earlier this week.

Optometry students from across the country participating on their school’s Private Practice Club board submitted a business plan and timeline that described their unique professional and personal pathway to owning a private practice.
In addition to Makayla Warden, three other students—Olivia Burger (Pennsylvania College of Optometry), Susmitha Narisetty (Michigan College of Optometry), and Nicholas Vo (Chicago College of Optometry)—were selected as finalists to present their business plans at the 2022 Student Private Practice Leadership Conference.
“The judges were extremely impressed by the quality of all the student submissions, however, Makayla’s passion for serving her community won the judges over,” Michelle Skinner chief growth officer of VSP Vision, said in the announcement. “Congratulations to Makayla and the other finalists. We know the future of private practice is in good hands with these leaders.”
Warden was awarded a $10,000 scholarship. The three runners-up were awarded $5,000 in scholarships each.
“I am beyond grateful to have received this scholarship through the VSP Premier Program Student Business Challenge,” Warden said. “I want to say a special thank you VSP and the Premier Program, Dr. [Michael] Bacigalupi, and all my colleagues who helped me achieve this significant accomplishment. I have been thinking about opening my own practice for a few years now, and this challenge made me believe I could truly accomplish my goals.”
The VSP Premier Program Student Business Challenge is one of the many new career support offerings from the Premier Pathways program, according to the announcement.
“The number of competitive submissions demonstrates that private practice ownership is strongly desired for the future of the profession. With Premier Pathways’ support, we are confident optometry students will be well-prepared to pursue this path,” Skinner added.
Premier Pathways supports doctors at every stage of their career and is uniquely positioned to help doctors find the path they want, with consultation, networking resources, and more. For more information about how VSP supports doctors at every stage of their career, visit here.