Malia McDowell (l) and Nastasya Liem.

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.—VSP Vision has named Malia McDowell, of the University of Alabama, Birmingham School of Optometry, and Nastasya Liem, of UC Berkeley, Herbert Wertheim School of Optometry and Vision Science, as the 2024 VSP Premier Edge Student Business Challenge winners, according to an announcement from the company. In collaboration with the Association of Practice Management Educators (APME) and Student Optometric Leadership Network (SOLN), the Premier Edge Student Business Challenge was designed for optometry students interested in pursuing private practice ownership.

“We congratulate both Nastasya and Malia on their dedication to private practice ownership and well-earned wins,” said VSP Vision's chief provider and industry solutions officer Michelle Skinner. “At VSP Vision, we are proud to support private practice and the Premier Edge Student Business Challenge is one of many ways we strive to ensure success for the next generation of optometrists. Nastasya and Malia exemplify the bright young talent shaping the future of this profession.”

“The importance of providing excellent optometric care in rural communities is needed throughout our nation. This experience and award gave me the confidence to remain ambitious for the future and make my business plan a reality,” said McDowell. “Being able to share my business plan with the leading and most successful private practice owners in optometry establishes I can be like them one day.”

McDowell and Liem were each awarded a $10,000 scholarship and a travel grant to the annual SOLN conference.

“I am honored and beyond blessed to have received the Premier Edge Business Challenge Scholarship this year. Not only has it allowed me to further my optometric education financially, but it has been a source of hope and motivation toward the future,” said Liem. “This business challenge has opened my eyes and has given me a little sneak peek into the future that I hope to achieve one day.”

VSP Vision said the Premier Edge Student Business Challenge is one of the many support offerings from Premier Edge Career Support, which is designed to help doctors at every stage of their career. More information about the program can be found here.