SECO International Announces Award Winners as 2019 Meeting Concludes in New Orleans


NEW ORLEANS—SECO International, which concluded here Sunday (Feb. 24), has announced the five recipients of its 2019 awards for their leadership in optometry and their significant contributions to the profession. “The ophthalmic profession is strengthened by individual contributions of knowledge, leadership, advocacy and service,” Emilio Balius, OD, president of SECO International, said in the announcement. “Each year, SECO takes the opportunity to celebrate those that are going above and beyond in their efforts to serve.”

The 2019 award recipients are:

• The 2019 Optometrist of the South Award was presented to Pete Smith, OD, of Greer, S.C. Dr. Smith has been in private practice in South Carolina for nearly 50 years, alongside his wife and fellow practitioner, Rosalind Overton-Smith, OD. A lifetime member of the South Carolina Optometric Physicians Association (SCOPA) and the American Optometric Association (AOA), Dr. Smith has served on the SCOPA board of directors and provided invaluable leadership and advice as a result of his years of experience in private practice. He is a grassroots expert, actively involved in advocacy work to support the optometry profession legislatively and working with legislators to develop their trust when it comes to vision and eye-related issues, the announcement noted.

• The 2019 Paraoptometric of the South Award was presented to Melanie Jenkins, CPO, of Spring Hill, Tenn. Jenkins is a crucial asset to the office of Rob Szeliga, OD, managing all administrative aspects of Spring Hill Eyecare with heart and creativity. Her involvement and attention to the community are unparalleled, whether it is her commitment to internal office initiatives, charitable initiatives that give back to the community, or involvement in the state association officers’ board, the announcement noted.

• The 2019 Young Optometrist of the South Award was presented to Kayla Campbell, OD, of Barboursville, W. Va. Dr. Campbell is a graduate of Alderson Broaddus University, where she earned a BS in chemistry and biology, graduating Magna Cum Laude, before attending and receiving her OD degree in 2014 from Indiana University School of Optometry. She returned to West Virginia to practice optometry, becoming involved in the West Virginia Association of Optometric Physicians and the community programs they support, including education and leadership programs. In 2019, Dr. Campbell will become the newest trustee of the WVAOP executive board.

• The 2019 Distinguished Service Award was presented to Catherine Amos, OD, FAAO, of Hoover, Ala. Dr. Amos was recognized for her outstanding service and distinguished contributions to the advancement of continuing education in optometry worldwide during 40 years of service as a dedicated volunteer leader with SECO International. Dr. Amos graduated from the University of Alabama School in 1974, making her the first female graduate of the school. Dr. Amos has served as president of the Birmingham Area Optometric Society, and president and chairman of the Board of the Alabama Optometric Association (ALOA), among other professional posts.

• The Southern Council of Optometrists also honored Jerald Combs, OD, of Martin, Ky., with the 2019 President’s Award in recognition of his dedicated years and outstanding advancements to the profession of optometry. Dr. Combs received his Doctor of Optometry degree from the University of Alabama School of Optometry before returning to private practice in Kentucky. He previously served as president of the Kentucky Optometric Association from 1988-1989, president of the Kentucky Board of Optometric Examiners in 2003, 2005 and 2012. His dedication to the growth of optometry serves as an example to the professional community. Dr. Combs has had numerous professional and civic achievements over the years, including being honored as the Optometrist of the South at SECO 2005.

The annual SECO meeting is produced by SECO International, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southern Council of Optometrists Inc.